By Carla Charter
ROCHESTER, MI.- A Sears and Roebuck mail order barn has been restored on the campus of Rochester University. “There are quite a few Sears and Roebuck barns from the early 1900’s. They were really popular in Michigan ,“ according to Dean Sutton of JDS Historical Preservation and Restoration whose company preserved the barn. There are also a number of Sears and Roebuck homes in the city of Rochester
“In 1964, the university acquired the farm and 54 acres for future growth. Since then, the barn has served as a maintenance shop where materials and vehicles were stored. The farm house was used by campus staff,” according to Jaymes Vettraino, Director of the Center for Social Engagement and Assistant Professor School of Business, Social Entrepreneurship at the university.
Eventually the one -acre property with the buildings including the small white farm house, a barn, a chicken coop, a silo and a small out building were designated a historic district as they were considered an example of a 1900’s farmstead, Vettraino continued.
Over the last 10 years barn deteriorated, according to Vettraino. Tension ties were placed inside the barn so it would not fall. The roof was failing. “We were told it should be torn down, instead of tearing the barn down though we connected with someone who specialized in preserving historic barns who was able to save it.” Vettraino said.
Sutton said that although he has worked on a number of Sears and Roebuck Barns before this is his first heavy restoration of one. Work began work in October 2018 through this past summer adding that it was a very enjoyable project. “Work done on the barn included repairing the main structure and jacking and cabling the roof structure onto original walls.“ The total project cost $300,000.
The Local historic commission will be holding their September meeting in the new barn. “We are excited to show it off. It is a real gem,” Vettraino continued.