Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Unveils Renovations to Historic Dairy Barn

George Watson

October 16, 2020

The renovations were part of a $3.5 million fundraising effort to reestablish the facility as a functional, collaborative educational space.

For almost 100 years, the Dairy Barn on the campus of Texas Tech University has stood as a symbol to the early days of the university and the persevering spirit embodied in all Red Raiders.

Built in 1926, just three years after the university was established, the Dairy Barn allowed for the payment of tuition through milk sales from cattle that were either brought by students or donated to the college. Students were encouraged to bring up to three cows of their own to campus and house them in the barn. The Student Dairy Association was formed that year, and by the early 1930s, Texas Tech's Dairy Manufacturing Department was self-supporting, furnishing milk and ice cream to the campus cafeteria and the Lubbock community.

Even though that method of tuition payment was discontinued in 1935, the Dairy Barn continued to serve the educational needs of students interested in agriculture until it was abandoned in 1966, sitting vacant for more than a half-century.

dairy barn interior
The interior of the newly renovated Dairy Barn includes collaborative spaces for students, faculty and staff from all disciplines at Texas Tech.

Until today, that is. Thanks to a $3.5 million restoration project announced in 2017, the historic Dairy Barn, part of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR), once again becomes a vital and functioning academic facility, complete with office and meeting spaces that will make it a key collaborative and conference space for students, faculty, staff and alumni.

"These renovations ensure the preservation of an important piece of the university's history," said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech President. "The Dairy Barn has a special significance for what it represents – our West Texas heritage and agricultural roots. The transformation of this building will serve many purposes and be a resource for all Red Raiders."

The Dairy Barn renovations were revealed during a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the facility on Friday (Oct. 16).

"The college is excited to see the Dairy Barn restoration complete because of its history," said Cindy Akers, associate dean for academic and student programs in CASNR. "The barn is a great reminder of our past and will serve as a resource for current students and visitors because of the educational component and the collaboration space it provides."

dairy barn
The exterior of the newly renovated Dairy Barn.

In 1992, a student fundraising effort resulted in the Dairy Barn and its remaining silo being recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. In 2016, the Lubbock County Historical Commission and the Texas Tech Student Government Association unveiled a new Texas State Historical Marker.

The latest renovations represent the first work done on the Dairy Barn in any form since 2012, when it was given a fresh coat of paint and the roof was replaced. Two years later, the green space around the West Library Mall and the Dairy Barn were part of a campus beautification project that included new grass, landscaping, an irrigation system, lighting and walkways.

With the latest renovation, however, the Dairy Barn becomes a functional space where students, faculty and staff can come together in a collaborative effort to further the educational efforts of the university.

The first floor of the Dairy Barn now consists of spaces that will bring together students and faculty from all disciplines on the campus. Here, the hands-on approach that features discussions with researchers and scholars will help students advance in the learning process in a unique and collaborative way. The small group meeting spaces will provide multi-disciplinary groups an environment that fosters problem solving, creative thinking and scholarship.

Dairy Barn
Much of the wood in the old structure was preserved during the renovation.

The multi-purpose loft space on the second floor provides room for lectures, receptions, conferences and other large meetings and productive educational functions. It is open to all departments on campus.

The renovations also brought about new doors, windows and nearby landscaping, as well as the creation of a display area tracing the building's history in an area where cows were once milked daily.

"The Dairy Barn has stood vacant for more than a half-century, patiently waiting for the day when it would take its rightful place of honor with the two other original buildings that remain on campus – the Administration Building and the Agricultural Pavilion," said Provost and former CASNR dean Michael Galyean. "After serving campus in its early years as a place of opportunity and education for students in dairy husbandry and food technology, it will now be a place that will provide opportunities for faculty, students, staff and the community to collaborate, create and enjoy an incredible event space during Texas Tech's next 100 years."