Traverse City News: The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority is pleased to announce that significant renovation work is continuing in Historic Barns Park at the Grand Traverse Commons.

The 56-acre public park was once the agricultural production area for the former Traverse City State Hospital, feeding 3,500 patients and staff at its peak in the mid 1900s. This latest project, funded largely by a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) loan fund secured by the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, will result in complete removal of two obsolete structures, Building 208 (a former milk house built in 1950) and Building 228 (a former bus garage built in 1954). Demolition of these buildings will make way for other capital improvements to the park, particularly the first phase of the Botanic Garden of Northwest Michigan, which will ultimately encompass 25 acres throughout the park.

Two other structures are undergoing partial demolition for adaptive reuse. Building 226 (a former root cellar built in 1930) is being transformed into a covered pavilion, and Building 222 (a former tractor garage built in 1900) will have its roof removed for redesign as an open-air walled garden. Demolition and related environmental cleanup work is being conducted by Northern A-1 Environmental Services.

“This is exciting progress for Historic Barns Park,” said Matt Cowall, executive director of the Recreational Authority. “We are extremely grateful to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, MDEQ and Northern A-1 for their support.”

Fundraising is ongoing for additional capital improvements to the park. Cowall noted that all donations at this time are being matched by another donor, currently doubling every dollar that is pledged to the Historic Barns Park and Botanic Garden campaign. Donations can be made through the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation at (231) 935-4066 or

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