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The Agriculturist

Reviving an old Friend

Jordan Shaw

Reviving an old Friend

"The West Texas wind pushes against my walls. As it whips through the air around me, I am reminded of how it used to not bother me. How in the past it only came in through the doors and windows. It was a welcome friend, providing fresh air to me. Yes, the wind sometimes carried dust that would drown out the world around me, but I could just close my doors and seal it out. Now, the wind is no longer welcome. I have become old and neglected. We have become bitter enemies. The wind tears at me day in and day out. Over time, my defenses have failed and the wind is winning."

The Dairy Barn at Texas Tech University has had many names during the 86 years of its existance. It has been known as a source of financial aid, a classroom, a production line, but mostly, a lasting symbol of tradition.

Designed by architect W.C. Hedrick of Fort Worth, the Dairy Barn at Texas Tech would become home to many dairy cattle throughout the 38 years the barn was used for production.

Strong Tradition

Today the barn stands in disrepair. In the beginning, students who joined the Student Dairy Association were allowed to house their animals in the barn and sell the milk. This effort allowed many students to cover all or part of their college expenses. However, this was only allowed for nine years, when in 1935, students were asked to remove their animals to make room for the expanding Dairy Manufacturing Department"s herd.

"That was when I was in full production mode. The department helped to provide milk and ice cream all over Lubbock. I hosted groups of elementary students. Their eyes were always wide in anticipation as they moved through the observation area to see where their milk and ice cream came from. Some of these students grew up to help in the production efforts."
Over time, the program outgrew the dairy barn and was replaced with a new facility. When the barn was abandoned in 1964, it remained a reminder to the students at Texas Tech of the rich agricultural roots of the university. The barn remained in this state until a 1984 report by the Coordinating Board for the Texas College and University System declared the barn structurally unsound and unsafe. This report helped to initiate the "Save the Barn Campaign" because tport called for the building to be abandoned or demolished.


A New Campaign

"In the time since I was abandoned, the efforts made by the student senate and alumni helped to give me hope for a future once again. In the time since the report to the Coordinating Board, I was declared a historical landmark, and the senate formed a committee to look for ways to preserve me."

In 1990, the Save the Barn campaign began an effort to raise funds to renovate and weatherize the barn. The student and alumni supported campaign proved to be a success, and in November of 1992, construction was completed and the barn once again returned to its dormant state.

Over the years since production ended in the Dairy Barn, many ideas have been tossed around for potential uses for the barn. Rumors swirled that the barn will become an ice cream parlor, a coffee shop, an agriculture museum, or even a theater. However, to this day, no plans have been made for what the barn will become.

"It started with one shingle, but now I have gaping holes in my roof. Now, I not only feel the wind on the outside, but it also whips around the loft and stalls that were once vibrant classrooms for Texas Tech students. Those stalls are long forgotten and have been abandoned for nearly 50 years. Rain puddles where hooves and boots used to tread. But all hope is not lost. As I look around, I see hope. Hope in the students who pass by every day. Hope in the buildings that have blocked out the once vast grassland that once surrounded me."


The weatherization of 1992 lasted for 20 years, but the barn is in need of repair once again. Under the guidance of Michael Galyean, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Trevor White, is helping to lead the effort to once again restore the barn. Much like the campaign in 1992, the new goal is to raise $65,000 to reroof and paint the barn. This should allow for the barn to remain preserved until the structure is repurposed. White, a student in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics and president of the Student Agriculture Council, explained that the barn has been an interest of his since he began as a student at Tech.

"I"ve certainly been interested in doing something with the Dairy Barn for a long time," White said. "It"s one of those things that you hear people talk about, but nothing ever happens, so I was thinking, "Wouldn"t it be cool if we could do something with that"."

The campaign kicked off at the homecoming breakfast last year, which was held in the lawn surrounding the barn to help raise awareness for the campaign. Galyean said his main goal is to preserve the barn right now, but he hopes to eventually extend a bid to use the facility once again for the college.

"The wind is winning, but that is about to change. With the efforts put forth by the students and alumni of the Tech community, I will once again be a vibrant member of the campus. Once again a reminder of things that were, or as a new place for learning, I will be restored. There is hope."

© 2012 Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education & Communications