USU to restore historic horse barn

It stands next to Aggie Bull-evard – the recently renamed 700 North running through Utah State University. White and forsaken, the lone barn is a reminder of what USU once looked like.As the needs of the university changed, so did the purpose of the barn. From horse barn in 1919, to art barn in 1962, to extra office space in more recent years, the barn became a historical landmark and a testament of the university’s adaptability.By December 2012, the barn will have a new purpose as USU’s first welcome center and new home of the Museum of Anthropology.”We want to restore it back to how it looked, at least on the exterior, in the horse barn days because it was really just kind of an iconic and beautiful barn, very simple,” said Bonnie Pitblado, Museum of Anthropology director and driving force behind renovating the barn.While the exterior of the barn will be restored to look as it did in the horse barn days in 1919, the inside will have a completely new look. AJC Architects and USU coordinators worked together to agree on a design for the barn.Each USU college will have space in the Welcome Center to display what their college does. The welcome center will be located in two floors in the north side of the barn.The new plan allows space for exhibits, a children’s center, offices and student work space.The floor plan adds an elevator and a two-story learning center to the barn’s east. The learning center will hold two sets of bathrooms, the children’s learning center and a conference room. The elevator, which will connect the barn and the learning center, will be hidden in a silo. The elevator, located in the center of the silo, will be surrounded by wrap-around indoor stairs. Pitblado envisions the walls of this staircase to hold a visual interpretation of the university and the barn’s history.The Museum of Anthropology was started in the 1960s, but its growth really exploded in the past decade. Pitblado’s Saturday’s at the Museum events bring in 200-300 people per Saturday. It became apparent the museum had outgrown its 250-square foot place in Old Main.In the summer of 2008, Pitblado received a phone call informing her that the upper two floors of the Art Barn had been condemned. Pitblado said she knew this would be the perfect place to put the museum.Pitblado’s vision goes beyond the museum. The welcome center would provide a place for prospective students to stop, learn about the different colleges and take a tour. USU has never had a welcome center like this, Pitblado said.”We’ve got Old Main, and then the barn is really the only thing that’s left in terms of our classical roots. We’ve got this whole new agriculture complex coming up, but (the barn) captures our roots in a way that I don’t think any other building ever could, and that’s the beauty of historic buildings,” she said.A donor created a $500,000 endowment for the barn, which will be used for operating needs. Once the barn is complete, this same donor intends to give another $500,000 toward the operating budget. Pitblado secured another $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This money is extremely competitive and hard to get.”I get tired of writing little grant proposals constantly for everything we want to do (at the museum). That’s how we’ve been funded since I’ve been here, which is 9 years,” Pitblado said.Other smaller donations are in the mix, and soon Pitblado will open up fundraising efforts to the locals. The grassroots, community-centered fundraising campaign Pitblado is spearheading is called “Raising the Barn,” making reference to when the community would all gather to help put up another neighbor’s barn. Soon, community members will have the opportunity to financially participate in renovating the barn.From Christmas ornaments shaped like the horse barn to copies of art created by original art barn students, Pitblado is creating gifts that will remind donors of their contributions. Gifts will be given to donors depending on how much they contribute to the fundraiser, with the gifts getting bigger and more valuable for larger donations.Information about donations and the barn, as well as stories about how the barn has affected Aggie alumni throughout its history, can be found at the Museum of Anthropology’s

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