When my brother Dean texted to tell me his barn was getting a new roof, I rushed right over with my camera. How often does a barn get a new roof these days?
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You see so many barns across the country that are sort of abandoned and forgotten – though I wouldn’t say that’s true for the barns of Old Mission Peninsula. Most of them are still “working barns,” and the farmers take good care of them. Aspen Contracting of Traverse City are the brave folks installing the new roof on this barn.
Located at the corner of Center Road and Kroupa Road, this 30’x40′ barn was built by Oscar Nelson in 1909. According to Evelyn Johnson’s “Barns of Old Mission Peninsula” book, Oscar married a widow who had traveled to the Old Mission Peninsula from Europe, bringing her children with her.
The Nelsons had a child named Ruth, who grew up to marry Walter Rude. Together, Ruth and Walter worked the 40-acre fruit farm and also raised Tennessee Walker horses. In particular, they loved the golden palominos, similar to Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger.
The Rudes installed wooden fences and remodeled the barn, adding five box stalls with big mangers, a dutch door, wooden floors, and nameplates over each stall door. One stall was reserved for the stallion and the other for mares.
Longtime OMPers will recall the man with a long white beard named Asher who took care of the barn and horses. He hailed from the Traverse City State Hospital, where Ruth worked as an accountant. She often brought the residents of the hospital home to help on the farm, and Asher was one of them.
Through horse-related activities, the Rudes met the Brill family and maintained a close friendship throughout the years. Ruth and Dorothy Brill were instrumental in organizing horse shows at Bowers Harbor Park for a number of years. After Walter passed away, Ruth continued to maintain the farm, but eventually sold the horses.
Dorothy came to live and care for Ruth in her final years, and when Ruth passed away in 1997, Dorothy was given five acres which included the barn and a ranch-style house right next to it.
Dean and Laura Johnson bought the farm in 1993 and eventually bought the five acres from Dorothy, as well. The barn currently houses Dean and Laura’s horses, Sugar and Summer. Here’s Summer…