The Barnes House
This building is a historically significant structure because it is the first frame house ever constructed in the Village of Okemos. What does that mean? All the buildings constructed before this one were made of logs. This is the first building built with lumber from local sawmills.
Built in 1849 by cabinetmaker Melzor Turner, it was located on Okemos Road just south of the "old" Grand River Road (now known as Hamilton Road). The house was originally used as a residence; however, a subsequent owner converted it to an inn and tavern because of its close proximity of the Lansing to Howell plank road.Later uses of the building included a post office, millinery shop, antique shop and, finally, office space for attorneys.
In 1997, the Barnes House was slated for demolition in order to allow for the construction of a right-turn lane at the corner of Okemos and Hamilton Roads.An effort to save the house was championed by former Village Director, Paula Gangopahdya. Her tireless efforts at gathering local support and fundraising were instrumental in moving the building to the Village for restoration.
Now completely restored, the front room on the south side of the first floor (right side with two windows) contains a "tavern" exhibit.
Several artifacts were discovered during the excavation, including broken pottery and glass pieces, leather pieces, buttons, and broken metal pipes. One of the most important artifacts in our collection was a wooden box built by Melzor Turner! This box was in the possession of Jesse Turner, the great granddaughter of Melzor, which then found its way to Mrs. Gene McNitt, who then donated the box to the Friends of Historic Meridian.
The Barnes House is the only building in the Village with a working kitchen and was remodeled in 2003 to a style more in keeping with the 19th century, and most recently in 2016 to create an office addition to house the Village staff.
The Barnes House is available for rent to small gatherings (25 seated; 40 standing room only) for $75 for 3 hours. For additional rental requirements, or to arrange a tour of the building, please contact us. Online rental payments accepted here