Baseball and Barns… Summer Vacation 2012

A guest post by Michigan Barn Preservation Network members, Chuck and Janine Saputo.

It started out all baseball and the barns showed up.  My husband Chuck and I are active in the Michigan Barn Preservation Network due to our rural preservation interest mainly here in Michigan.  We often brake for barns during our travels and in fact just discovered Coveyou Farm south of Petoskey Michigan on our way ‘up north’ for a summer weekend.  But that’s another story. This summer Chuck wanted to spend his birthday visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York, fulfilling a lifelong childhood back lot baseball playing dream of long ago.  We set the dates, made the reservations and set off in early July for five days leaving work, home improvements and yard begging and all other ties behind.

The Finger Lakes region in western New York with its lakes and wineries looked like an attractive route to our fun time destination Cooperstown. We booked the downtown Inn at Cooperstown B&B and looked forward to baseball, some small town Main Street time and relaxing. Tired of the expressways after Buffalo, we took Highway 5 east towards the Finger Lakes and started to notice each of the progressively older historic towns along the way…and the barns… Once in the Finger Lakes we were amazed at all the winery choices!  Visiting several along the west

Billsboro Winery on Seneca Lake, west shore, south of Geneva, Finger Lakes,

Seneca Lake shoreline, we immediately braked when we saw Billsboro Winery.  Yes a huge red gable barn with a quilt board affixed, grabbed our attention.  The barn serves as a very attractive tasting room, event center, lake view point and historic farm structure all adding to the tasting experience you can be sure… Ice wine tasting too! But back to baseball!

Old farmstead north of Schuyler’s beach, Cooperstown, NY
Barn has high stone foundation, quoining at the corners.

Oh yes,  we drove Cayuga Lake shore checking out more wineries and were greeted by a unique eight-sided behemoth old barn set on a tall stone foundation.  Pulling to a stop along the highway again for a barn, I grabbed the camera and investigated this unique farm building, still in use.  The nearby shed was unusual too. Our area of Michigan is no stranger to octagon barns but this one had a large detailed eight sided cupola and that distinctive stone foundation.  Near Seneca Lake ( a must stop town) we shopped at Sauder’s unique country store.  The parking lot was loaded with small barns of all types, roof lines and styles… in case you want to buy a barn on vacation. But back to baseball! Arriving in Cooperstown it was plain to see the wonderful American heritage architecture of western New York.  But baseball is the main attraction here everywhere.  We dived into the baseball atmosphere and thoroughly enjoyed the Hall of Fame and the downtown, even in the height of the busy summer season. With no barns downtown to be seen, it now was all baseball.

This the main barn at the Farmer’s Museum and was the center of the dairy farm that stood here. Just a wonder of stone by an Irish mason. Note the stone silos, they are the men’s and women’s restrooms inside. A unique experience.

With a final day before heading back, we saw two attractions, one titled The Farmers Museum and the other, Fennimore Art Museum, within walking distance of the our Inn.  Ready to choose when we reached the fork in the road, The Farmers Museum huge stone barn visible from the road, got our vote on this trip.   The tug to see this magnificent structure revealed four more unique historic barns on the farm grounds each dating back to 1790.  Each restored barn was in its traditional use with unique features and construction. Farm animals, crops, gardens and the most knowledgeable and friendly costumed docents added to the visitor experience. The 1900s stone Main Barn houses exhibits in a space worthy of any art gallery and still shows its amazing towering framing.  The two stone silos serve as unique restrooms.    Not to be missed!  The Farmers Museum is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as Cooperstown. Back home we tell everyone about our wonderful New York trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame and about those barns….

4-H Barn Owl Day in Schenectady County (NY)!

In June, NBA Board Member Keith Cramer lead a workshop for Schenectady County 4-H in building nesting boxes for barn owls. Fourteen 4-H’ers each built an owl box. The boxes will be exhibited this summer at the County Fair.

Later, we had a presentation by Wes Laraway, Director of New York Wildlife Rescue Center, about  “Bringing Barn Owls Back to Eastern NY State”. The stars were two beautiful owls that had been healed of injuries at the Wildlife Rescue Center. Mr. Laraway explained the important role barn owls have in controlling rodents on a farm, and that if our farms had a place for the owls to nest, they would return. All these boxes will eventually be mounted at the 4-H’ers farms, so we will see if it works.

The workshop was a success and we already have some orders to sell more owl boxes. We hope to turn this into an annual event and help bring these wonderful birds back to our area farms.

Site Sponsor & Host: The Mabee Farm Historic Site.

Co-Sponsors: National Barn Alliance (NBA)  and Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS).

Old New York Barn Survives & Adapts to join the Hi-Tech World

Authored by Keith Cramer

This abandoned 19th-century barn was spared as the 1,250 acre high-tech commercial office park grew around it for many years. The developer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the first engineering college in the US, renovated  the 1760’s farmhouse for the Park’s main office. They had no real use for the farm’s barn, but were committed to saving it until a use was found. After  twenty years, and twenty-three office buildings were built, a donor, Pat, stepped forward to support Park Director Michael Wacholder’s, vision of turning the barn into a meeting and event space. Now, Pat’s Barn provides 5,000 square feet of conference space and also hosts weddings and parties of every kind. This Fall, Wacholder received the preservation Award from the Rensselaer County Historical Society which included a collection of artwork and books of historic barns. More more information, please visit:

Buffalo 7th Graders Raise a Model Barn [video]

On October 18, over 200 7th and 8th graders from the Waterfront School in Buffalo, NY, built a model of a “Dutch” barn typically found in New York from 130 wooden pieces using only simple hand tools and without nails.

Teamworks and Timbers is the National Barn Alliance educational outreach program bringing youth face-to-face with America’s disappearing rural heritage and trades. The program is designed to plant the seed for preservation while sharing history and teaching science/engineering/construction skills to youth in grades 4-12.

This program was in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference being held in Buffalo from October 19-22. Stephanie Meeks, President & CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation observed keenly the kids in the building process.

Back from Buffalo!

The National Barn Alliance is back from the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in Buffalo. And we are still giddy from it! We had many successes over that week.


On Tuesday, we raised a Dutch model barn as part of our educational program, Teamworks & Timbers, with 200 students from the Waterfront School in Buffalo.






On Wednesday, we held an affinity luncheon for thirty friends of historic barns where we gave away Charles Leik’s maple syrup from his Michigan farm and a barn puzzle during a trivia session.






On Thursday, we raised our Dutch model hall in the Buffalo Convention Center. Board PResident, Charles Leik, join over 45 other barn enthusiasts for a tour of the agricultural heritage of western New York sponsored by the New York Barn Coalition and Preserve Western New York.






On Friday, our Dutch model barn was quite the draw in the exhibit hall, but then again how could you miss it?






We are already planning for the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference next year in Spokane.