Happy 4th of July weekend, Ann Arbor! This sure is a great town to be free in.
It's sad to see, but whomever owned the structure had not taken care of it for the last decade, so it was caving in. You can't ignore a building like that and not keep up with repairs. The first sign of a dying barn is the loss of shingles and that barn was in bad repair before the city built their facility next door.
Here's a little bit about the history of the farm, from I Spy, November 2013:
I do not know much about the farmhouses on Ellsworth, and even less about the barn. I have never been in them or on the property. I have finally had a chance to dig out my Pittsfield files, so here is what I have:
2250 Ellsworth. Isaac Farnill House, built probably in the early 1840s, Greek Revival with two wings.
2270 Ellsworth. Read-Derek House, built ca. 1872 by George and Mary Farnill Read. Vernacular Upright and Wing with some Italianate-style detailing. Property also includes large gambrel barn and several outbuildings.
While I agree with Melissa that the surrounding setting has really lost its historic context, the combined properties are/were one of the few pockets of 19th century resources associated with agriculture remaining in Pittsfield Twp. Isaac Farnill (1815-1893) emigrated from England to New York in ca 1834, and from there to Michigan in 1839. He is listed in the 1845 census with James Farnill (brother?). Once developed, Isaac's 100+ acre property must have been beautiful, with his house perched on the high point and the farmland sloping dramatically (for this area at least) to the east, south and west from the house. The farm is about one mile south of today's Cobblestone Farm (the Ticknors), and one+ mile north of the Geddes family compound. The immediate neighbors across the street and to the east were the Platts. The Farnills had three children. One son died in the Civil War after being captured at Gettysburg and held as a prisoner. The daughter and her husband built the house next door ca 1872, which is about four years after they were married. They farmed 133 acres, most of which was south and east of the house. The 1895 Atlas shows the Reads with 187 acres, which included the former Farnill Farm. The southeast corner of the property was cut by the railroad track that runs between Ypsi and Saline, and a county drain crossed the property as well.
I always enjoyed looking at the Read house because it reminded me so much of my own. It was such a vintage post-Civil War farm house. A couple of weeks ago I was driving by and noticed that the asbestos siding had been removed, showing the house in its original beautiful cladding (wood siding and trim). It is a shame that this house and its accompanying barn had to go. I hope the timbers will be put to good use. I am sorry about the Greek Revival, too, although it had been modified enough on the exterior that it no longer displayed as much charm for me.
There are apparently a few family records in the archives of the Clarke Historical Library (not sure why there?), but I have not pursued these.