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Icon Makeover; Repairs Completed on Historic 1926 Texas Tech Dairy Barn

Icon Makeover; Repairs Completed on Historic 1926 Texas Tech Dairy Barn

Texas Tech University’s historic dairy barn received a facelift this fall. The structure’s exterior now dons a new coat of paint, and all roof shingles have been replaced on the treasured campus monument. “The dairy barn is a vital part of the agricultural heritage of Texas Tech, and I’m pleased that the [university] administration recognized the value of the structure and committed the funds for the new roof,” said Michael Galyean, dean of Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“By combining additional university funds with donations to the Dairy Barn Restoration Fund, we expect to have the wood trim on the building painted by the end of the year,” he said.  Discussions continue regarding potential future structural renovations, with many interested in turning the structure into some sort of classroom, workspace or office space for CASNR students and employees.

“Although I hope we’ll ultimately find a greater use for the dairy barn, it’s gratifying to know that at least for now we’ve preserved this important reminder of the legacy of Texas Tech,” Galyean said.

As one of the four original buildings on campus at Texas Technological College, the dairy barn and silo stand as an integral piece of the college and university’s history. Built in 1926, the state-of-the-art structure at the time was designed by Fort Worth architect Wyatt Hedrick with the help of agricultural dean Arthur Leidigh and professor Wenzel Stangel.

By 1931, the Dairy Manufactures Department established by Kenneth Renner, was self-supporting, furnishing milk and ice cream to campus cafeterias and the Lubbock community. The college herd, comprised of cattle bought by or donated to the college, swelled beyond the barn’s capacity by 1935. As a solution, students were asked to remove their own cattle from the barn and the era of tuition payments through milk sales came to an end.

The facility continued to serve as an educational site for students interested in the industry until it was abandoned in 1964 when dairy operations were moved to another location. Campus planners razed the dairy manufacturing addition a year later to make way for new facilities and the historic barn sat quietly ignored.

After six years of desertion, the first call for renovation was made. A 1976 report and slide presentation titled “Restoration: Texas Tech Dairy Barn,” recommended the return of the dairy barn to its 1946 condition in order to create a dairy museum or perhaps a theater for the German, French and Spanish departments. During the late ’70s, architecture professor Will Robinson began attempts to register the dairy barn as a historic place.

His interests in the National Register of Historic Places were strengthened when the barn was deemed unsafe and structurally unsound by the Coordinating Board for the Texas College and University System in 1984. The report called for the building to be demolished or abandoned. The Texas Antiquities Committee designated the barn as a historical landmark in 1985, but renovation estimates soared to $500,000.

In 1989, the Student Senate took action, creating a committee to study the preservation of the facility and work towards having it listed in the NRHP. The “Save the Barn” campaign, a student and alumni effort held from 1990-92, raised $64,000 to weatherize the barn. The project sealed the facility from the harsh West Texas weather elements by rebuilding its roof, repairing the windows, doors and walls and repainting both the barn and the silo.

Preservationists ultimately prevailed and the dairy barn and silo were officially dedicated to the NRHP in 1992. But the barn would not rest peacefully for long. University master planners drew in a pedestrian mall at its current location in 1997. Talks of renovation began again but the barn and silo continued to sit unchanged and today stand as a quiet and curious reminder of Texas Tech’s agricultural roots.

Written by Kelsey Shaw

Additional Reporting by Jessica Alexander

CONTACT: Michael Galyean, Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or michael.galyean@ttu.edu

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