It would never have occurred to me, when I was young, to have said, “When I grow up I want to help save America’s barns.” I loved our barn – the heart of our farm and the soul of the nation in the 1960s. But barns were everywhere. Today, “real” timber-frame barns are a threatened treasure, disappearing far too rapidly. I understand that today’s mega-farms put together “marshmallow” domes and long metal, open-sided sheds to meet their needs quickly and inexpensively. But what I cannot accept is when the barn that made that farm thrive is destroyed rather than given careful consideration for a new purpose it might serve, or, at minimum, made available to someone else.
As I speak to groups I find that many people do not realize the treasure that a heritage, timber-frame barn really is and why such a barn is worth saving. If you have, or can influence someone to keep a “real” barn in good repair, please make that commitment. When these barns are gone they are gone forever. Regret cannot bring them back.
Four of these barns are now gone. The remaining barn will cave in soon even though one of its ventilators has been home to nesting ospreys every year for many years. Death comes for many reasons. Some aging farmers grieve that they cannot afford to care for their barn. I wish I had very deep pockets and could save their barns. But when a barn is destroyed to put up a pole building, have a scrap more land to till, or because someone is unwilling to consider options, that hurts! Saddest of all are the barns that a simple repair could save.
“You told us that a heritage barn is a treasure and you said it with such love. I have never met anyone so passionate about anything!”
“Your enthusiasm made us see our old barn in a whole new light. We are glad we have saved it.”
Retired farm couple, northern Michigan
"You have a wonderful vocabulary and a gentle but learned and inviting voice. You made everyone feel comfortable and invited them to participate in the talk."
M.M. Battle Creek
"I could listen to you talk about barns for hours and never lose interest. I have learned so much!"
"I just love your humor!"
Retired teacher, Lansing
Barns are clearly a symbol of the American dream.... a critical reminder of the importance of our agricultural heritage….. American Barns provides an excellent snapshot of the history of the barn throughout the United States. The photos are outstanding…. a must read.
Michigan Historic Preservation Network
…beautifully written… jam-packed with color photographs…. The author succinctly summarizes the various kinds, styles and uses of the barn, providing the best overall introduction to the subject I've seen. For those wanting to dig deeper, she provides a state-by-state list of “Places to Visit”, a glossary, and a bibliography. This is an exquisite book to savor and enjoy, time and time again.
American Studies Scholar & Barn Activist
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book and it made me even more aware of the barns I was passing on my trip to the States.
Award-winning British author
"An enchanting overview...that will grab any reader’s heart with its mixture of history, farming traditions, and frank discussions of preservation issues.... perfect gift...full of heart...."
National Barn Alliance
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