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Iconic Makeover: Repairs Completed on Historic Dairy Barn

The structure, built in 1926, dons a new coat of paint and all roof shingles were replaced.

Written by Kelsey Shaw

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.

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.

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 the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR).

“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.

Treasured Campus Monument

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.

In 1989, the Student Senate took action, creating a committee to study the preservation of the facility.

In 1989, the Student Senate took action, creating a committee to study the preservation of the facility.

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, the Student Senate took action, creating a committee to study the preservation of the facility and work toward 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 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.

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7 Responses to “Iconic Makeover: Repairs Completed on Historic Dairy Barn”

  1. Connie Armstrong Says:

    I think you should open up all the windows and doors put in picnic tables and make it a nice outside lounge area. Where students and staff can eat, study etc.

  2. Alison Says:

    Barns across America are disappearing! Thanks for saving this one for posterity!

  3. Andy Says:

    I agree with Connie. I think the Barn is an ideal place for many who frequent the campus to come and do something “universal.” I have heard that K-State is known for having like an ice cream parlor on campus? That would be fun. Or even the idea of making it into a type of museum paying homage to the early ag/dairy roots of west Texas. My biggest hope is that it might be able to maintain the integrity of it’s structure and not just be completely gutted inside to the point that it is nothing more than a shell. Then again, I guess barnes are essentially nothing more than shells.

  4. B.J. Lusk Says:

    Thanks for the renovations on theTech Dairy Barn. As a student, I worked and lived in the barn with Art Sommerfied,from Mason, we graduated in 1962. There was an attempt at one time to renovate the barn into an ice cream parlor. Tee shirts were sold, of which I still have one, but apparently the project failed.
    Every time we are in Lubbock, we go by to see if IT is still there, thanks again for your efforts.

  5. Sharon Rutan Says:

    Thanks for saving this Historic Dairy Barn. I graduated from Tech with a BS in Animal Science December 1971 and have fond memories of showing one of Tech’s horses in it. I think that some of past needs to be preserved. I would be in favor of making the inside into a museum or a place where students could gather to eat and meet.

  6. Mark Says:

    Connie’s idea is a good one, but another option would be to renovate the barn into meeting rooms and/or a reception area. Regardless, preserving and keeping it is a MUST.

  7. M. Clayton Sprunck Says:

    I am thrilled to see some rennovations for this historic building! But, you all nailed it on the head, why not do more? The barn has potential bursting at the seams. Why not a restuarant/bar? Yes it would take loads of money, but why not? Student staffing, gameday spectaculars, traditional icecream sales…it would be the alumni Mecca along with the Merket center!

    This thought has crossed my mind since the first day I passed it on campus, what history and culture just waiting to be tapped into. The resturaunt/bar is not uncommon on campuses across the states. It would take lots of hard work, money, and regulation but the pay off would last for generations! I have seen crazier things happen…Lubbock becoming Wet and an outdoor pool at the Rec for starters.

    I think it is obvious just from the few comments alumni want more from this great building … so what can we do next?

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CASNR
CASNR

The The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is made up of six departments:

  • Agriculture and Applied Economics
  • Agricultural Education and Communications
  • Animal and Food Science
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Plant and Soil Science
  • Natural Resources Management

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