The Big Barn

Joshua Van Hoosen built the Big Barn in 1874. Two years earlier he began preparing building material, cutting trees and hewing timbers. Stone walls were built into the hill, with the other three sides constructed with layers of fieldstone and mortar made of hair, lime, and sand. In the cornerstone, he placed his pipe and currency of the day. The story has been told that Lysander Woodward owned a barn at the corner of Tienken and Rochester Roads that was 100 feet long, at the time the longest in the county. Joshua constructed his building 101 feet long, securing bragging rights. Recent archeological work on the barn’s foundation reveals that the 101-foot dimension was an interior dimension. The exterior dimension was closer to 103 feet.

The building consisted of a lower level used to accommodate sheep and cattle. Five doors and numerous windows were in this basement level. The first floor contained two large roller doors that opened onto Runyon Road. The second floor had three haymows and a large granary for wheat and oats. A gravity-fed system brought water to the barns through tamarack logs from nearby Mount Moriah.

In 1911, Alice Van Hoosen Jones erected two wooden silos to this barn, the first silos in Oakland County. In 1912, concrete floors replaced the dirt floors.

In 1968, on Palm Sunday, two young boys playing with matches caused a fire that destroyed this barn, 12 calves and additional buildings on the site.

Only the foundation remains along Runyon Road where farm equipment is parked today.

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