Sleeping Bear Dunes hosts barn restoration workshop

From staff reports

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will host its annual barn restoration workshop June 19-21 at the Schmidt Farm located on Norconk Road, three miles south of Empire, and one mile west of M-22. This year marks the 18th anniversary of a partnership between the Michigan Barn Preservation Network and the National Lakeshore in developing this series of “hands-on” workshops. The park and the Michigan Barn Preservation Network are providing the skilled labor to put on this workshop.

The workshop this year will address “Barn Loft and Door Repair and Construction.” The barn to be worked on shows an inadequate loft design and construction technique that will be repaired. In addition, missing pedestrian doors will be constructed and installed, and large rolling doors will be repaired to operational use. The course will include: 1) basics about structural and load analysis, 2) the placement of support posts and beams, 3) installing loft floor joists and a wood plank floor, 4) door construction and installation, and 5) tool safety while completing the task presented.

The course is set up so participants receive “hands on” training in all techniques. The workshop begins on site at 9 a.m. each day. There is no cost to participants and tools and materials will be provided. Participants should wear boots, gloves, and bring a sack lunch for each day that they attend.

Workers are not required to be skilled in the building trades, though experience will be helpful and appreciated. The purpose of the workshop is to teach the techniques and train owners and interested members of the public how to do restoration work on timber and frame structures. Past workshop attendees have ranged in age from 7 to 70, with each contributing their own unique skills to the project.

The public barn restoration workshops started in 1997 at the John Burfiend Barn in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, with subsequent workshops held at historic barns throughout the National Lakeshore.

Interested parties should contact the park Historical Architect, Kimberly Mann, at 231-326-4771, or by email at, to sign up for the workshop. Campsites may be arranged for you at the D. H. Day Campground near Glen Haven, as needed.

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