The South Lyon Area Historical Society (SLAHS) has had a long term goal of relocating a barn to our historic village. In 2021, after we had been searching for several years, Larry Roper, owner of a barn located on the Roper Farm near 8 Mile Road and Pontiac Trail (2 miles from our historic village), graciously offered to donate the barn to SLAHS and the City of South Lyon. In return, we would be responsible for removing the barn from the Roper Farm property.
The SLAHS mission is, in part, to give our community a better understanding and appreciation of our local history. The South Lyon area has a long history of horse breeding, at one time becoming the “horse breeding capital” of Michigan.
The Roper Barn was utilized as a shelter for up to 6 horses and a buggy (wagon), the horses most likely used for pulling farming machinery and the buggy. The build date of the barn is estimated to be circa 1880 - 1906 and was built on the Roper Farm. A full second floor was used for storage with a crude ladder mounted to the north interior wall for access from the ground floor. The ground floor was a concrete slab.
A lean-to structure was attached to the south side of the barn, most likely used as a corn crib. Another lean-to on the west side of the barn was probably used for additional storage. The barn measures 30 feet long, 22 feet wide (excluding lean-to’s), and 20 feet high at the roof peak. The interior beams are rough hewn and demonstrate typical post and beam construction methods from 100 years ago. The main beam for the second floor has steel posts that may have been repurposed from oil drilling pipe.
Many considered the barn to be a farmer’s greatest asset! It is important to showcase a typical historic barn, including historic construction/architecture and reasons for the barn’s existence. We plan to add a Barn Quilt that would honor South Lyon’s heritage. The Barn Quilt would become part of the Barn Quilt Tours in southern Michigan, making our historic village a destination for visitors.
After locating a contractor from mid-Michigan that specializes in barn preservation, demolition and reconstruction, and a storage site for material near the historic village, we were able to dismantle, inventory salvageable barn wood beams/siding/flooring and windows, and store the saved material for future reconstruction at the historic village in April and May, 2023.
We are hopeful to reconstruct the barn at the historic village, just east of the village chapel, by 2025. We have a goal of raising $60,000 by that time, but we have a long way to go! (At the time of this writing, we are at roughly 25% of our goal). Donations of any size are welcome and appreciated! (You may donate via our website; designate your donation as “barn”.)
We also have 3 special items to commemorate South Lyon’s sesquicentennial in 2023; a 150th Anniversary Ornament/Medallion, a 150th Anniversary stemless 12 ounce wine glass, and slate drink coasters. All proceeds from the sale of these items will go to the barn fund. These are limited edition items and the supply will be gone once sold out. Click here for more details and to purchase.
Thank you for your interest in preserving an important part of South Lyon’s agricultural history!
Hometown News Article, April 2023
Century-old barn comes down in Salem Township. With help, it will rise again in South Lyon
Oakland Press Article, September 2022
Historical society launches barn preservation project