In an effort to save a Texas Tech University iconic landmark, the Dairy Barn, the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources announced a $2.6 million restoration project aimed at bringing the building back to its place as a working academic facility.

After sitting vacant for 50 years and being one of the oldest and most recognizable structures on campus, the Dairy Barn stands as a monument to the university’s history.

“The Dairy Barn is a vital part of the agricultural heritage of Texas Tech,” said Steven Fraze, interim dean of the college.

Once the barn is renovated, Fraze said it will make a bold statement that the past and the future come together only in the present. With its prime location in the heart of the campus, it is considered an ideal collaborative and conference space for Texas Tech students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Michael Galyean, Texas Tech’s interim provost and senior vice president, said the venue will allow for discussion of problems ranging from the nuances of a particular discipline to the global grand challenges facing humanity over the next several decades. In addition, students, faculty, visiting scholars and artists will be invigorated to work together on creative ventures, problem solving, and developing new program initiatives.

“The Dairy Barn stands as a witness to the spirit and vision of those who laid the foundation for Texas Tech University,” Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said. “We now have an opportunity to preserve and protect our history and tradition by making the Dairy Barn a dynamic part of what our thriving university has become.”

Schovanec said his office will match dollar-for-dollar up to $1.3 million for each donation made to restore this landmark for future generations of students.

Proposed renovations involve securing and updating the historic building’s interior. Included in the plans are the creation of two large meeting areas on the barn’s first floor as well as loft spaces and the addition of several offices in what were originally livestock stalls.

The group meeting and open-space areas will feature internet connectivity, open writing and exhibit spaces and versatile layout options for disciplinary and multi-disciplinary groups. Plans also call for replacing doors, windows and nearby landscaped areas, in addition to the creation of a display area tracing the building’s history in an area where cows were once milked daily.

The last time the barn received any attention was in fall 2012. The structure’s exterior received a new coat of paint and a weathered roof was replaced. In 2014, the greening of the university’s West Library Mall and the area surrounding the 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.

Constructed in 1926, the barn is one of the oldest structures on campus. Over the years, it has survived a fire, abandonment followed by years of neglect and threats of demolition. But reflecting its agricultural heritage and the indomitable spirit of the countless Red Raiders who worked there over the years or who merely walked by it day after day on their way to and from classes, the barn is woven into the fabric of Texas Tech.

Efforts to save the barn have taken a circuitous route. When it first opened, Texas Tech 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. A year later, the Texas Tech University Dairy Manufacturing Department began furnishing milk and ice cream to the university and the Lubbock community.

Three decades later the barn was abandoned, and dairy operations were moved to another location. Still, the facility remained a visible campus feature. In 1992, the building and its remaining silo were recognized by the National Register of Historical Places, thanks in large part to a successful student fundraising effort. Last year Lubbock County’s Historical Commission and the Student Government Association of Texas Tech unveiled a new Texas State Historical Marker.

“The renovated barn will become a centerpiece of our campus and be cherished by future generations of Red Raiders,” said Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert L. Duncan.

(Press release from Texas Tech University)