CRMS barn swallows half million in remodel
Carbondale’s most distinctive historic landmark is undergoing a $500,000-$600,000 remodel project, which should send it well into the 21st century.The landmark is the 105-year-old Colorado Rocky Mountain School Barn. When the remodel project is completed later this summer, “It will serve the school for a long time to come,” said Terry Lee, director of development for the private school.The Barn, as its called, has a distinctive four-sided, pagoda-style metal roof that soars over the school’s campus. The Barn is a landmark in more ways that one. A history compiled by the school says that airplane pilots during World War II used the Barn for reference when the property was still a working ranch.After the late John and Anne Holden bought the 350-acre ranch in the early 1950s and converted it to a school, the Barn started its long journey to becoming Carbondale’s most celebrated venue for school functions and community events.A partial chronology is as follows:-1957 – the last year CRMS held its graduation ceremonies on the Barn’s manure and sawdust floor.-1963 – CRMS and the Barn hosted the Music and Arts Festival of the Colorado Association of Independent Schools.-1968 – Vietnam war protesters Joan Baez and David Harris gave a presentation on passive resistance to school students and the community.-1980 – A series of community concerts and musical events began in the Barn, and continued into the 1990s, including KDNK talent shows and Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities presentations.-1986 – CRMS received a $15,000 grant from the Aspen Foundation to help purchase chairs, complete a stage lighting project, and install acoustical improvements.-1990 – The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities awarded CRMS a $1,600 grant for improvements.In there somewhere, although the school’s Barn history is not specific, television news correspondent Walter Cronkite spoke to students in the Barn.It’s also uncertain exactly how the Barn first evolved. One theory is the ranch’s original owner, Captain Nathaniel Hubbard, designed the building to reflect structures he saw during a military tour of duty in Siam.Another theory, according to the history, says that the Barn was originally a four-sided, open court. After heavy snows that turned the court into an unworkable mud hole one winter, the towering roof was added to provide protection.The Barn is made of logs, and measures 100 by 100 feet. The center area, where performances are held, measures 60 by 60 feet. In the late 1980s, risers were built to allow seated viewers to look down on performances.The performance area is surrounded by rooms for the school’s library and computer lab.Lee said the current remodeling project started with a roof replacement, but structural engineers pointed out other needs. For one thing, stress from the roof was causing some of the Barn’s log walls to bow out. To fix that, a load-bearing wall is being built to handle the stress.Other improvements include a fire alarm and sprinkler system, plus acoustical upgrades. When the project is all said and done, however, the Barn will look pretty much the way it has for years.”We don’t want it to look any different, and that’s good,” Lee said.
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