Texas Tech hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the recent completion of renovations on the campus' Dairy Barn Friday morning.
Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said the Dairy Barn stands as a reminder of the West Texas heritage and agricultural roots.
The Dairy Barn provided a unique opportunity for students who had trouble affording tuition, Schovanec said. Students had the ability to bring their cows to campus and sell the dairy products to offset college expenses.
Abandoned in 1966, the building has not served a functional purpose since, Schovanec said. However, in 2016, discussions began to refurbish the facility. Tech decided they would match donor contributions, and donors generously stepped up to provide their support.
However, Schovanec said the renovations would not have been possible if it were not for the generous alumni who provided donations to help upkeep the building during its years of vacancy.
“They kept alive a vision that we realized today,” Schovanec said.
The renovations are not only a huge success for Tech but also for the alumni who have waited so long to see this project come to a finish, Schovanec said.
Christopher Huckabee, chairman of the Tech System Board of Regents, said the Dairy Barn is a very special building to him. As an architecture student when he attended at Tech, he said he was tasked with doing a Dairy Barn project. The architecture students were granted access to the building and each designed a concept for what the future of the building could be.
“Almost every architect who has graduated from Texas Tech University in the past 40 years or so has been in this building, has spent a great deal of time in this building and has a personal vision for what this should look like,” Huckabee said.
As a student, Huckabee said he would walk around and wonder, "How are we allowing this building to sit here and rot?” He said he believed there had to be a way to restore the Dairy Barn.
Four years ago, Huckabee said he received a phone call telling him Tech leadership had decided to restore the building and was in disbelief.
Additionally, Huckabee said everybody played their part perfectly and did it in a way that everyone could be proud of.
“Executing a project like this is really an orchestra,” Huckabee said.
Michael Galyean, Tech provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, said the historical significance of the building played a huge role in the decision to renovate the building. The Dairy Barn construction was completed in 1927 at a cost of approximately $29,400.
Once in operation, Galyean said the creamery, which has since been torn down to make space for the Foreign Languages building, provided milk and ice cream to the campus cafeteria for a long time. Additionally, the creamery delivered milk products to consumers in Lubbock.
Students could bring up to three cows to join the herd, helping students offset the cost of school, Galyean said. For some students, this covered the entire cost of tuition.
The barn was closed around 1966, Galyean said. This closure occurred because new facilities were constructed, resulting in the move of dairy operations off campus.
Almost immediately after it was abandoned, Galyean said people began to envision how the building could be utilized in the future. However, nothing ever happened.
In the late 1980s, the Dairy Barn had deteriorated to such point that Tech leadership was considering tearing it down, Galyean said. A group of students and alumni led an effort to preserve the barn, resulting in the 1992 National Register of Historic Places designation for the barn.
Galyean's history with the Dairy Barn started in 2011, he said. While standing in the Bayer Plant Science Building on the second floor atrium, he looked at the Dairy Barn and saw large pieces of shingles missing.
“If we don’t do something about the Dairy Barn, we’re going to lose it,” Galyean said.
This led to the Dairy Barn renovation fund, which stabilized the building for a period, Galyean said. Ultimately, there is a greater vision still in mind for the historical building.
“This is a vision that has taken a half century to come to. It’s not just something we did in the last few years,” Galyean said. “It’s a lot of people over a long period of time envisioning what this place might be.”
In 2016, the students got involved again, Galyean said. The Tech Student Government Association, in coordination with the Lubbock County Historical Commission, led the effort to make the Dairy Barn a Texas Historical Landmark, which they accomplished.
Additionally, in 2016, Tech leadership made the decision to match donor donations and really invest in what the building could become, Galyean said. In 2018, the fundraising goal was reached.
Not only was the historical significance of the building a push factor for renovations, it helped shape exactly how the building would be designed.
Billy Breedlove, vice chancellor for Tech System Facilities Planning and Construction, said the building is about 8,000 square feet. On the first floor, there is a large multi-purpose meeting studio space, a conference room, three offices and a new elevator. In the foyer, there is a wall providing recognition to all those who made the renovations possible.
On the second floor, Breedlove said there is an event space that will seat about 100 people.
Additionally, there are some artifacts from the original building and historical photos throughout the facility, Breedlove said. On the second floor, the original hay bale hoist still is visible in the peak of the building.
“A lot of the original materials were preserved and re-utilized in the space,” Breedlove said.
These materials include original beat boards, flooring planks, a few of the original windows and cattle shuts complete with two-dimensional cows.
There are two-touch screen interactive exhibits in the building, one on the history of the Dairy Barn and the other explains the dairy industry, Breedlove said.
Regardless of the different historical and construction factors, Schovanec thanked all donors and participants in the project for their hard work and dedication put into the renovations.