By: Donna Iadipaolo
We interviewed Matthew Parker, son of the “M Go Blue Barn” owners, Bill and Katie Parker. Matt’s parents bought the property in 1992 and he grew up there. Matthew, his wife, Krista, and their two daughters, Isla and Eleanor, spend much of their time at the barn. The M Go Blue Barn is a local landmark with a unique structure that the family is determined to preserve.
According to Parker, photos of the barn have been used by the University of Michigan Alumni Association and seen all over the world at U of M game locations and alumni gatherings. And hundreds of visitors see it up-close throughout the year, in addition to about 15,000 cars that pass by it every day.
There is a fascinating local family history associated with the barn as well.
“The property was first farmed by the Allmendinger family in the mid-1800s – the same Allmendingers after whom Allmendinger Park is named,” Parker detailed. “We believe the barn was built by the Znyder family who owned the farm next, around the turn of the century–1890 to 1900. It is what’s called a ‘Gambrel’ Dairy barn, notable for its 4-sided sloped roof. By the way, it was constructed, one can tell it was built using old techniques during a time when the circular saw was first introduced.
“We are now convinced that preserving the barn is in the interest of the community, but not in the interest of potential developers or future owners. It’s just too expensive and the corner is too attractive to want to keep the barn as-is,” stated Parker. “The financial pressure to keep it up has been weighing on our family, and every concept we have seen over the years either calls for the barn’s destruction or marginalization by placing any number of less-interesting businesses in front of it on its prominent corner.”
It is essential for the Parkers that the newly proposed business be family-friendly. The Parker family would like to preserve the barn’s historical integrity and make it the site of a business that further serves the community.
“It’s intended to be all about family,” Parker described. “We have a young family of our own, and both the fare and the design are intended to be captivating for kids and families of all kinds. We intend to feature storytellers for kids on story nights while their parents dine and to host several monthly and yearly events geared toward children and families in the area, as well as making the property a nice place to visit year-round for the young and not-so-young alike.”
“The barn is rare in this area of the Midwest,” Parker explained. “As the Kickstarter campaign notes in the Story section, historic timber-framed barns have been disappearing to neglect and demolition at an alarming rate. But more than that, the barn has become a beloved and treasured landmark in Ann Arbor as the gateway to the west side of town.”
Parker noted that the barn saving effort is a Kickstarter campaign and not a “Go Fund Me” Campaign. The Kickstarter campaign video includes a rendering of what a patron of the “Barn and Grill,” as they’re calling it, might experience.
“It is a Kickstarter campaign—and there is a notable difference between Kickstarter and ‘Go Fund Me,’” Parker explained. “Kickstarter is ‘all or nothing,’ meaning if we do not reach our ambitious goal, we do not receive any funding, nor are any backers charged for their pledges. Kickstarter is also regarded as more entrepreneurial, and the process of creating a campaign with Kickstarter is heavily scrutinized to align with strict requirements.”
The Kickstarter ends on December 15. To give financial support to this project, click HERE.