Crews work to rebuild the historical three-story, 2,000-square-foot equipment barn, in the foreground, and replace the roof on the dairy barn, in the background, at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.

Crews work to rebuild the historical three-story, 2,000-square-foot equipment barn, in the foreground, and replace the roof on the dairy barn, in the background, at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.

Photo provided by the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Hoosen Farm

Dairy, equipment barns being renovated, restored at Van Hoosen Farm

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 22, 2021


ROCHESTER HILLS — Approximately $3.5 million in renovation and construction work is underway at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.

Museum Manager Pat McKay said the bulk of the cost funds the emergency replacement of the roof on the 1927 Van Hoosen dairy barn.

“It’s 100 years old, and there were just some questions on the spacing of the rafters and there was a little bit of rotted wood,” McKay said. “Our biggest barns were empty for about 20 years, and there were also holes in the roof, and there was water that got in there, and racoons and squirrels.”

Replacing the entire roof, McKay said, costs approximately $2.5 million — which is funded by the city of Rochester Hills via its emergency tax reserves.

“It was a very difficult decision, especially when you see the number of zeros that are piling up. We are fortunate to live in a community that can afford to do this kind of stuff. So many towns can’t afford to save their historic treasures, and their historic treasures go away.”

McKay said the dairy barn is the largest and most important building remaining on the Van Hoosen Farm. It houses the majority of the museum’s exhibits and all of its archives, along with its conference room, offices, gift shop and audio visual room.

The museum was able to leverage funds, McKay said, by combining the project with another — rebuilding the historic three-story, 2,000-square-foot equipment barn.

The $1 million project reconstructs the early 20th century barn in its original location along Runyon Road using the exact dimensions from the previous building that was removed in 1990. The city of Rochester Hills is footing $750,000 of the bill, the museum raised $250,000, and $50,000 is coming from a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Original to the Van Hoosen Farm site, the equipment barn was standing on the property, but not in good shape, when the city acquired it in 1989, McKay said.

The equipment barn — which provided support for the Van Hoosen Farm operation by storing milk trucks and farm supplies — was built in the early 1900s and deteriorated to a point where it had to be removed in 1990. The new building will be used to store program support items for museum operations on the upper level and will allow historical farm equipment that is currently sitting outside to be housed indoors on the lower level, which McKay said will eventually be open to the public.

Crews were expected to begin work on both projects last summer, but COVID-19 hit, causing major delays.

“The bids were going out in March of last year, and when COVID hit, we were stuck and couldn’t get the ball rolling again until June. It took us that long to pull it all together and get approval from our City Council and mobilize everyone, so everything was about six-eight months behind schedule.”

Construction began at the end of September, and McKay said most of the work should be completed by early June.

“It’s going to take us about four weeks to move in, get all of our exhibits back in, and all the computer systems hooked up and security systems working,” McKay said. “Until the contractor gives us a final date, we can’t pick an opening date, but in July, we hope to be back open to the public on a regular basis. We’re very excited about that.”

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said the critical investments help to “bring the unique past of Rochester Hills to life.”

“Thanks to the council’s commitment and the generosity of our neighbors, we can continue to ensure that our community’s story will be shared with future generations,” Barnett said in a statement.

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features the stories, people and events that officials say have made the community an exceptional place to call home for 200 years.

The 16-acre museum complex — located on a historical farm at 1005 Van Hoosen Road in Rochester Hills — typically welcomes over 60,000 guests per year and provides local history exhibits, and educational and cultural programming. The museum’s archives include a collection of local history artifacts and archival papers.

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