New Life for Horseshoe Bay Barns

Preliminary plans to preserve the iconic Horseshoe Bay Farms property in Egg Harbor were revealed last week at the project’s advisory committee meeting, said property owners Glenn and Barbara Timmerman.

The Timmermans told the committee on Friday they’ve secured two nationally recognized restoration and landscape specialists and plan to create a nonprofit “to preserve the property and make it available to the community,” said Glenn Timmerman.

“We wanted to create something that preserves, conserves, educates and inspires,” said Timmerman. “These were paramount considerations driving the vision for the Horseshoe Bay Farms revitalization.”

The Timmermans are leading the project with assistance from Uihlein/Wilson Architects of Milwaukee and P. Allen Smith of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Timmerman said the Uihlein/Wilson Architects Company has special expertise in restoration and re-purposing of historic properties; P. Allen Smith is nationally known for his site design expertise and sustainable growing practices. He’s also the host of popular public television gardening shows.

“Horseshoe Bay Farms is an iconic Door County landmark that should be preserved,” said P. Allen Smith, who toured the property in March. “Its rich agricultural legacy can serve as inspiration for the future as we become more aware of the need for conservation, local food systems and sustainability.

“Not only is it important to preserve historic properties and communities, but we also must endeavor to make them relevant and economically self-sufficient,” said Smith.

To that end, the plan calls for Horseshoe Bay Farms to become a not-for-profit, charitable entity, made available as a community resource. “Much planning work still remains,” Timmerman explained, “and the ability to raise sufficient money to make the full plan a reality needs to be tested.”

The preliminary vision for the property includes an integrated set of programs that “connects the history of the property to the future by bringing focus to sustainable agricultural, horticultural and conservation practices,” said Timmerman.

Bringing on Uihlein/Wilson and P. Allen Smith was instrumental to the project, said Timmerman.

“Historic architecture has great appeal in Door County and we are excited to be part of this unique farm and its renaissance,” said architect David Uihlein who has visited Horseshoe Bay Farms on several occasions in the past six months.

“Like the Cowles family who owned the property before us, we’ve striven to be good stewards of the Horseshoe Bay Farms property, so there is a stable starting point for the project,” said Timmerman.

The Farm property includes vintage structures circa 1916-1917, including five barns, a creamery, four farm outbuildings and five farmhouses sitting on 13 acres of land south of Egg Harbor, overlooking the waters of Green Bay.

The property was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 2012, recognized for its significant agricultural contribution in Holstein breeding and orchard farming. Horseshoe Bay Farms is also recognized architecturally by the registry as the largest, most intact historic farm complex in Wisconsin.

Initial ideas include tours, education and exhibit centers, in addition to the restoration of structures.

The Timmermans and the advisory committee envision teaching sustainable agriculture and involving the local food movement, including culinary classes, a demonstration kitchen and space for local food and beverage artisans.

The grounds will be beautifully landscaped as garden rooms to highlight flowers, plants and vegetable themes all using sustainability practices. The design plan also allows for community gardens for families and a cherry and apple orchard.

The project’s advisory committee consists of: Susan Kohout, Bill Chaudoir, Myles Dannhausen Jr., Dean Volenberg, Roger Utnehmer, and Bryan Troutman as well as Jim Draeger, the Wisconsin Historical Society Preservation Architect.

Grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Cliff and Clara Herlache Foundation are helping to defray the costs of the Master Planning project. Planning work is expected to be complete by mid-June.

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