Funding boost for hay barn restoration project

The UC Santa Cruz Foundation and the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District is gaining momentum in its efforts to preserve the sprawling, fast deteriorating hay barn near the base of campus.

The Friends hope to carefully dismantle the historic barn, which dates to the late 1860S, and have it raised again, using a combination of new and salvaged salvageable beams and other wood.

But first the nonprofit group needs to have the barn studied and thoroughly inventoried to make sure the rebuilt version is a historically accurate reconstruction of the original barn.

The Friends got a boost this summer when a Los Gatos resident donated $15,000 worth of high quality old-growth timber from her foundering late 19th century barn, which yielded redwood planks and walls that could one day be part of a reconstructed hay barn.

The Friends group was also awarded a $4,000 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from the California Endowed Fund. This money allowed the Friends group to pay for architectural drawings of the barn -- an essential part of the documentation process -- but the group must raise another $10,000 to $20,000 in matching funds to finish documenting the building. The group is trying to raise the money privately.

This week, Bill Hurley and Paul Oatman, contractors affiliated with the Timber Framers Guild (, measured and photographed the barn’s frame. Both are experts in the art of mortise-and-tenon construction, a traditional building method.

The Friends group’s ultimate goal is to recreate the barn as it was built. Such a project would cost at least $200,000.

“Loss of the building would be a major blow to the integrity of the historic district, and the opportunity for the campus to reuse the barn would be lost,” said Sally Morgan, UCSC senior environmental planner and archaeologist.  

For information or to help with the project, visit the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District web site, or send contributions to Friends of the Lime Works, c/o Sally Morgan, MS: PP&C, UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz CA 95064.