The barns in the Farm Group are the primary visual focus for visitors arriving at the Park - directly behind the Visitor Kiosk and Park offices. The roof replacement project involves replacing the asphalt shingle roofs on 18 buildings (5,000 sq. ft. total) to stop and prevent further deterioration of the roofs and water damage to the interiors. In the last six years, the Foundation has adapted a number of the smaller barns as Park offices, Visitor Kiosk, Environmental Classrooms, Cafe and Cafe seating and restrooms and is in the process of creating an Interpretive Center in the Bottling Plant. Because the barns are so visually prominent for all who visit the Park, it would be very unfortunate to have them deteriorate to a point where visitors wonder about the State commitment to the Park and its architecturally and culturally important buildings.
The 18 barns in the Farm Group were once the center of Marshall Field's award-winning agricultural village at Caumsett, designed by noted architect John Russell Pope and farming and agricultural specialist Alfred Hopkins, in the 1920s. Over the years, the State and the Foundation have worked to stabilize and improve these historic structures, but maintaining them is a constant battle given their size and their age. Having weather-proof roofs are critical in protecting the integrity of the building and their interiors, especially those that have been adaptively reused already. Replacing the roofs is an obvious step to saving the structures and the concurrent social, cultural, architectural history of the Farm Group at Caumsett.