Rochester Hills Museum Calf Barn Adaptive Reuse Project

Community: City of Rochester Hills, MI
Population: 10,000+

sisThe City of Rochester Hills has carefully preserved the Van Hoosen Farm as the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm – a 16 acre city park. The Calf Barn is one of several buildings that is part of the property the city purchased in 1989. In 1990, during the assessment of these historic structures, the roof collapsed on the Calf Barn and was carefully removed, leaving the outer walls. For 22 years, the building sat vacant and deteriorating while facility assessments and fundraising quietly took place. Through private donor investment in creating a development team, over $790,000 was raised to adaptively reuse this structure as a multi-purpose facility that will support the museum operation and provide our residents with a unique space for community events. The exterior of the building resembles the exact building when it was constructed in 1927. The interior is climate-controlled and ADA accessible.


The Rochester Hills Museum Calf Barn Adaptive Reuse project can be duplicated when municipalities seek partnerships to create a community opportunity. Our municipality took the initial step to acquire and stabilize the property, and then sought partnerships to identify common interests with local private foundations who invested the initial funds to create a fundraising/strategic planning/development team. The city provided clerical and staff support for a three-year intensive effort to meet with donors, create phases for the work, create donor opportunities, and complete the project. With strategic planning and partnering with local philanthropic dollars, other communities can also see the same positive results that Rochester Hills has experienced with this project.

Creativity and Originality:

The Calf Barn was a deteriorating, neglected building. Many would have thought demolition of the remaining structure would be a solution and an improvement to this site. But the City of Rochester Hills is proud of its history – especially that of the Van Hoosen Farm – home for five generations to the Taylor-Van Hoosen families and culminating with the extraordinary lives of Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen M.D. and Dr. Sarah Van Hoosen Jones – who had a Master’s degree in animal husbandry and a Ph.D. in animal genetics. The city wanted to save and adaptively reuse this structure to show our community how other historic buildings might also be saved, repurposed, and reused. In addition, the funds generated from the rental of this building will provide significant revenue to support the museum operation in a nontraditional way and offset the general tax funds the city uses to support the museum.

Community Impact:

There have been several positive impacts from this project:
  1. Our museum has connected with over 133 donors to achieve success with this project. This creates new donors for the museum for other future projects.
  2. The project created 10 legacy window donors - local families that contributed larger funds to have their family recognized as legacy donors. This allowed the museum to strengthen their archives and collections in regard to the history of these families in our community.
  3. This project allows the museum to connect with new audiences that will be utilizing and visiting the museum site for a wide range of cultural, educational, and recreational programs. These events will be broad – ranging from wedding receptions and anniversary parties, to art exhibits, local history displays, and an independent film festival.

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Project Multimedia:

Project PowerPoint - Calf Barn


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calf barn west side

Interior done 4

Painted Calf Barn