SANTA CRUZ -- Once a storehouse for hay and a shelter for oxen, a dilapidated 19th-century barn near the entrance to UC Santa Cruz will find new life as a center for campus environmental programs.
A $5 million grant from the Pasadena-based Helen and Will Webster Foundation, among the largest single gifts to the university, will fund the retrofit, as well as provide support for environmental studies.
"UC Santa Cruz is a pioneer in the fields of environmental stewardship and agroecology," Chancellor George Blumenthal said. "This very generous gift enables us to continue to build on these programs."
UCSC boasts numerous environmental programs, including the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Life Lab, Sustainable Living Center, Program in Community and Agriculture, Environmental Studies Department and the Arboretum. Currently, the programs are scattered around the sprawling campus.
The restoration of the barn, which will include the creation of work spaces and conference rooms, will provide a center for the various programs.
"We see it as a place for people to gather, to celebrate, to learn and hope it will inspire other private donors to join the project," said Webster Foundation trustee Alec Webster, a 2002 UCSC environmental studies graduate.
The barn sits at the southern end of the campus in the 32-acre Cowell Lime Works Historic District, which also includes four lime kilns, a cooperage, a cookhouse, lime
In the mid-1800s, lime, used in mortar and plaster, was in high demand as California's cities grew in the wake of the Gold Rush. Santa Cruz was the center for lime manufacturing in the state, according to "Lime Kiln Legacies: The History of the Lime Industry in Santa Cruz County, California."
A group of history buffs, Friends of the Cowell Lime Works, has been working to preserve the UCSC site and its decaying buildings before they disappear.
"The barn was critical to shipping lime to market," said Frank Perry, the group's president and co-author of the history. "It sheltered the oxen that pulled wagons of lime to the wharf and stored fuel (hay) for the oxen."
The 4,800-square-foot barn will be dismantled, its pieces catalogued, and then the shell will be rebuilt using as much of the salvaged lumber as possible and the vintage mortise and tenon timber-joining techniques of the original. A second phase will add interior improvements.
Construction is expected to start in 2014 and be completed in 2015, in time for the celebration of UCSC's 50th anniversary.
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