Restoring a Cherished Part of Washtenaw County History
In September of this year, WCPARC signed a contract with Brock and Associates, Inc. to initiate repairs to the Staebler Farm buildings north of Plymouth Road in Superior Township. Mr. Brocks firm specializes in timber frame-related reconstruction and has provided services to many satisfied clients in southeast Michigan. Currently they are nearing completion of work on eight structures: three barns, a corn crib, pig house, milk house, silo, and a well house. These buildingsand the work already completed on themare clearly visible to traffic on Plymouth Road just east of Prospect Road.
The old barn, the large red structure closest to the road and the westernmost of the group, has been the focus of the greatest attention. Originally constructed prior to 1880, before the farm was purchased by the Staebler family, the barn is a significant and long standing local landmark. Structurally, the barn is supported by a transverse framework of wooden members, called bents which carry both the vertical and lateral load. (See illustration below.) Each of the four bents consists of two posts connected by a tie beam and wind braces, all of which are connected by traditional mortis and tenon jointery. Brock and Associates have supplied select replacement parts including posts, hewn beams and other essential components and will pour a new concrete foundation for the structure to rest on. The net result of this effort is a barn that is structurally sound, plumb and one that offers the public an example of historic construction techniques.
Most of the other onsite structures are physically sound and the repairs needed were more modest. For example, damaged and rotted siding required replacement and interior barriers to enclose no longer present animals (stanchions) were removed. Cows, sheep and goats will graze the fields surrounding the barns but will no longer be permanently housed in the barns. Another important job was to remove the soil in the barnyard, which had experienced nearly a century of farm animal presence, and replace it with gravel which is clean, drains effectively and is relatively easy to walk on. All the structures were power washed inside and out. Finally a number of the buildings are receiving welcome coats of paint to help preserve their wood and brighten up this historic and highly visible farmscape. Those structures not completed this fall will be painted next spring.
Concurrent with these physical improvements, WCPARC staff planners are preparing a master plan for park development. Implementation of the plan will culminate in public access to Staebler Farm, hopefully, in the near future.
Richard Kent, Park Planner