A watercolor painting of a Round Barn

Round Barn on M-66, Osceola County, is available here

Exploring 2 Mid Michigan Round Barns

Introduction

Like many people, I am instantly attracted to old, unusually shaped barns. Unfortunately there are not many left. 

The first octagonal barn I ever saw was located west of Weidman Michigan. I had just moved down to Mid Michigan from the Upper Peninsula and was enthralled with this barn and knew I had to draw it. I came back a short while later only to find the structure had been destroyed during a storm. See my link at the end of this blog for a photo of this octagonal barn.

Since then I have been determined to document any round barn I see with my camera, pencil, or paintbrush.  So far, however I have only discovered 2 round barns in my two favorite counties for barn hunting: Isabella and Osceola Counties.  This blog will discuss both of them.’

Unless specifically indicated, all images in this blog are copyrighted by me Mike Sherman

Painting the round barn from my portable studio.

1. Round Barn Foundation, Winn, Michigan

I have been to this Isabella County barn many times. It is quite striking nestled in such a beautiful pastoral setting. Only the unusual circular foundation that was built into a hill remains. A newer roof made out of a patchwork of corrugated tin sheets has been added.  

I have heard that an Amish farmer now owns it and uses it for cattle.

Over the years I have done many drawings, photos, and paintings of this foundation. One of the first paintings I sold at Art Reach was of this barn. 

This watercolor is a plein air painting done on site in Winn-see the above video. It is available for sale.

This much larger painting I completed a few years later. I started by taking my watercolor paper to the site and I drew the barn directly. I later finished the work in the studio. See the shop page for more about how this painting was done including photos of the different stages.

Both of these paintings are available on my shop page. Click on the paintings for more information on how to purchase them.

I have learned a bit about local barns through various Facebook groups and have gotten to know people who have family connections with these structures. 

One of my watercolor customers has a family history with the Winn Michigan round barn. With her permission I have used two of her images. The first is a drawing done by her mother of the interior of the barn. The second photo is what the circular barn looked like in the thirties. 

Interior drawing used with permission by susan Decker DeRosa
Mid Thirties photo used with permission by Susan Decker DeRosa

The following photos show what the barn looked like last year.  The first photo was taken on a beautiful spring day and the second is a detail of the barn door in winter.

2. Round Barn on M-66

I first noticed this barn a few years back while traveling to Traverse City on M-66 with my wife. I immediately had to stop and take some photos. This part of Osceola County is very rich and full of life. While stopping for the photos I could hear Upland Sandpipers calling and Meadowlarks singing. 

Later in the year I came back and painted this small plein air watercolor in my sketchbook.  

Currently the barn and the property are on the market, as can be seen by the “For Sale” signs in this photo I took during the 2021 holiday season.

Out of all the barns I have read about on Facebook, this M-66 Round Barn perhaps has the most mentions. The photos below is of the interior of the M66 round barn were posted by Shelle Heether

. The photos are used here with her permission.

Conclusion

This blog features just two round barns which is a reflection of their growing scarcity. I’m always on the lookout for more of these structures I can draw and paint. I actually prefer the older ones that are perhaps in need of some TLC. They are much more interesting to me than pristine or restored barns. I enjoy them I don’t paint them unless they are a commission. 

If you know of any more unusually shaped barns, especially in Isabella, Montcalm, Mecosta, and Clare Counties,  and are willing to share the location, please contact me with the form below and I will provide my email address. 

I don’t post specific locations of farms on the more remote roads. I don’t want to encourage trespassing!

Links

A website listing Michigan Round Barns

Octagonal Barn in Weidman, Michigan

Facebook Group Michigan Old Barns and Barns and Farms in Michigan

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