Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Dairy Barn

History

 Barn History

 

Built in 1926, the Dairy Barn and Silo is one of the four original buildings on what was then known as Texas Technological College. 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.

Built in an L-shaped configuration, the agricultural complex includes a free-standing grain silo to the west of the main wing. A description of the building from the register notes: The complex was built with interior milking and feeding facilities for 40 cows, plus calf stalls, feed mixing room, boiler room, attendant's room and an office. A fire in January 1930 damaged the building, destroyed equipment and killed three cows, but the building was soon repaired, and new milking equipment was installed.

old time dairy manufacturing

By 1931, Tech's Dairy Manufactures Department 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. Campus planners razed the dairy manufacturing addition a year later to make way for new facilities and the historic barn sat ignored. Some minor interior and exterior changes were made through years of milking operations before 1966, when the Dairy Manufacturing Department vacated the building.

old time dairy barn

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 (NRHP) 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, Tech's student senate took action, creating a committee to study the preservation of the facility and work towards having it listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 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 stands as a reminder of Texas Tech's agricultural roots.

In the fall of 2012, Texas Tech's historic dairy barn received a facelift. The structure's exterior would now don a new coat of paint, and all roof shingles were replaced on the treasured campus monument. In 2014, the greening of the West Library Mall and the area surrounding Tech's iconic Dairy Barn were part of a $2.5 million campus beautification project that included new turf grass and landscaping, along with an irrigation system, lighting and walkways.

Efforts continued to raise funding for the barn to once again be a working building. In 2017, the Office of the President offered to match dollar-for-dollar up to a $1.3 million for each donation made to restore this historic landmark for future generations of students. Reconstruction finally broke ground in 2019 and finished in late 2020.

Today, the Dairy Barn and Silo stand as an integral piece of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' and university's history.

Timeline

  • 1926: Students were encouraged to bring up to three cows of their own to campus and house them in the barn. The barn had enough milking facilities for 40 cows, a calving stall, feeding rooms, a chiller, and an office. The dairy business took off, and in 1926, the Student Dairy Association was organized.
  • 1927: The Texas Tech University Dairy Manufacturing Department furnished milk and ice cream to the university and the Lubbock community.
  • 1966: The Dairy Barn was mutually beneficial to Texas Tech and the students by providing milk to the Home Economics Food labs and the campus cafeteria, with any extra dairy products sold to the Lubbock community to help pay for the student's college fees. The barn was abandoned, and dairy operations were moved to another location.
  • 1992: The Dairy Barn was recognized by the National Register of Historical Places, thanks to a successful student fundraising effort. Because of this effort, the Dairy Barn has been preserved as a symbol of Texas Tech's agricultural heritage.
  • 2016: Lubbock County's Historical Commission and the Student Government Association of Texas Tech unveiled a new Texas State Historical Marker.
  • 2017: The Office of the President offered to match dollar-for-dollar up to a $1.3 million for each donation made to restore this historic landmark for future generations of students.
  • 2019: Construction crews broke ground on the renovations as part of a $3.5 million fundraising effort to reestablish the facility as a functional, collaborative educational space.
  • 2020: Dairy Barn renovations were revealed during a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.