America’s Barns are Worth Saving
The Barn Believers Community Project Fund was created (2017) because heritage barns -- timber-frame, log and stone - are being destroyed. Valuable documents and photos which record the stories of these architectural treasures are being discarded. The time to save them is NOW!.
- awards grants to 501c3 nonprofits.
- shares accurate information for decision-making.
- is not an endowment or a membership organization.
- does not recommend contractors, companies or products.
- makes grants only within the state of Michigan.
- See Grants/Application. (Downloadable PDF)
Examples of qualifying projects include convening decision-makers to design barn-friendly policies, preserving
historic barn-related collections, evaluating and advising on the condition of a barn in preparation for
relocating it for nonprofit use, and education.
To discuss Contact Us.
Tax Credit for the Rehabilitation of Historic Michigan Barns
Senator Jeff Irwin (D) District 18, introduced on April 14, 2022, Senate Bill 1008 with co-sponsors Dayna Polehankie and Wayne Schmidt, to provide a tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic Michigan barns. Please give this Bill your full support! He can be reached at:
Sen. Jeff Irwin
Post Office Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909
"Saving Heritage Barns"
This booklet is available at no charge. See Saving Heritage Barns for the full text and how to request copies.
Barn Believers in Action
We are honored to share the work of photographers whose images are among the many drawing the attention of 38.3 thousand members of the Facebook site, Michigan Old Barns. They are recording history, inspiring others, and stirring conversation as the site has grown from simply sharing photos to noting a bit of history to strategizing how to save specific barns from decay or demolition. Our deepest thanks to these amazing artists who see with their hearts and capture with their cameras. Some have taken creative liberty with their images, some have removed distractions, and others just “tell it like it is.” Some offer their work for sale and can be reached through their own Facebook sites.
Don Armstrong: I first learned photography in the early 1970s while serving in the Marine Corps and later studied at Lansing Community College. My first love is landscape photography which includes anything old and historical. Whenever I get the opportunity to see these old buildings it brings back memories of people and places that are dear to me. I love being outdoors and have photographed subjects ranging from mountain peaks to rosebuds in our backyard.
Dave Carlson: I was born and raised in suburban Detroit. But every camping trip as a kid, sitting in the back of the Ford Country Squire station wagon, drew me to abandoned houses, farms, barns, and lighthouses. I always wondered why they were abandoned, empty, run down, but in their time, very important to a family.
My first camera at 18, was a Pentax ME 35mm, and the photography bug was prevalent thru my twenties. My wife, kids and coaching youth hockey (30 years now) became my passions, teaching the life lessons that may be missing in today’s youth. My passion for photography was reignited in the summer of 2019 with the purchase of my first digital camera. Photography allows me to relax and get away from the daily hustle and bustle of today’s world. Just me, my camera and a lighthouse or barn.
DeAnna Rose Cody: I’m a grandma that has always loved barns. Having a cell phone gives me the opportunity to take pictures any time. Being able to share my photos has been so wonderful. It’s therapy for me. I get lunch and just go drive and get lost. It’s amazing how many barns are out there. I’m happy to save their beauty in my photos.
Bruce Doll: I started taking pictures when I was 4 years old, 61 years ago. Growing up on Long Island did not give me much of rural America to photograph. We moved to Michigan in 1991 where I have fallen in love with rural America, especially barns. When I find a barn, I enjoy getting to know it. Barns have personalities. Sometimes I think it is easier to get to know a barn than a person. I love walking into a majestic barn and seeing how it is put together. It amazes me what these barn builders were able to do without computers or modern tools.
My ArtPrize entry for 2022 was a print of a barn and a frame that I made. It was titled “Strong Like Barn.” While the outside of a barn typically shows its age like a person getting older, the inside of both a barn and a person can remain strong. As a barn believer, I know that to be true!
I encourage and challenge my barn believer friends to use their photography talents to help their communities. I photograph concerts and events, kids with Santa, and provide pictures to our local newspaper, online local news sites and TV stations. It feels good to help out!
Gary Ennis: I live in Traverse City, Michigan, and have had a love for photography since the age of about 12 when it was only film. My favorite things to shoot are landscapes and barns and the two go together very well. I spend a lot of time going down rural country roads. My dad taught me well and it is amazing what you find off the main roads. I also spend much time in the UP and the old farms up there are nothing short of amazing.
Michelle Jordan: I am a retail manager and take photos of barns because I love them and it is my stress release. My grandpa was a barn builder and I find myself drawn to these old pieces of history. They are a part of history that we are losing very fast. I try to capture as many as I can before they are gone forever. I grew up on a beef farm in Michigan and feel I was very fortunate to experience all that small farm life has to offer. I found out you can take the girl off the farm but she won't be happy. I now have my own 40 acre farm in Michigan.
I got into photography about seven years ago and started a photography page called Red Barn Photography inspired by my own red barn. Besides photography I am a avid lover of horses and animals. I enjoy riding and showing horses, flower gardening, reading and kayaking.
Stephen L. Kettner: One of my earliest memories was sitting on my uncle Fred’s lap while he drove his tractor in the fields. Barns and farms carry memories many cherish, a life-style I believe needs to be preserved through photos. My previous profession of over 30 years was as a videographer and media producer for a major university; with recent retirement plus the pandemic, I needed a past-time activity. My passion now is finding a barn, in whatever condition, then sharing photos and short stories from their owners.
Judy Kies: I am a logistics professional and breast cancer survivor. Although I was not raised on a farm, I have many ancestors who were farmers, both here in the United States and in Germany. I am hoping to keep their farming legacies alive through photography. My hope is to document as many Michigan barns as possible. (Photo of Judy by John Sobczak)
Doug Martin: My evolution in photography began 45 years ago under the supervision of a skilled photographer. I have enjoyed photo ops in the Galapagos, Socorro, and Cocos Islands, and coast to coast US and have also taken hundreds of photos in cardiac surgery as a Perfusionist. Now, retired, one of my favorite pastimes is heading onto obscure country roads in search of interesting photo ops. This gave birth to the “Dirt Road Diaries.” The attraction to farms and barns stems from childhood excursions to my grandparents’ farm.
Leandro Martins: : I received my first camera at the age of 18 and instantly fell in love with the ability to capture moments. That passion continues to this day. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my daughters, exploring the outdoors, and photographing historic architecture, barns, nature and landscapes. I see beauty through the lens, and wherever I am, one of my cameras is likely close by.
Colleen Fitzpatrick McMurray: My love for photography began at a very young age when I realized my parents were not taking pictures of me and my seven younger brothers. I have worked as a portrait photographer and taken many pictures over the years, but nothing gives me a greater joy than to drive in the country and find that next beautiful barn just around the bend. Each barn is unique and has a history that needs to be told. Sharing its picture with the world gives it the voice it might not otherwise have.
Mary Webber Rogacki: I was born and raised in the western Upper Peninsula and went to the University of Michigan. I worked for 40 years as an RN at the University of Michigan Health System. Since retirement I live six months in the Upper Peninsula and six months downstate. I love barns for their photographic appeal but especially for the stories they tell about the grass roots of this country