FRESNO, CA – The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust (Trust) announced today that it has begun a project to reconstruct a dairy barn located at the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies (River Center). The new open air building will provide a covered space with capacity for 250 people, helping the Trust expand its environmental education and community programs at the River Center.
Reconstructing the circa 1925 River Center dairy barn has been included in every plan for the River Center property since the Trust acquired the site from Vulcan Materials Company in 2001. The Trust’s original plan for the project was to stabilize the existing barn using an internal i-beam structure. After consulting with two architects having expertise in historic preservation, the organization determined that stabilizing the structure is no longer feasible due to the extreme deterioration of the barn wood.
To maintain the historic integrity of the site, the new barn will be a wooden replica structure with the same proportions and design as the original barn. Additional sliding doors will be added to the structure to enhance airflow and ventilation.
The River Center is located just 3-miles north of Woodward Park, and has more than 15,000 visitors annually. At the River Center people can connect with the cultural and natural history of the San Joaquin River through art and educational exhibits, programs and activities, gardens, and links to pedestrian and bike trails. The River Center is also a key location for the Trust’s environmental education programs including its River Field Trips and River Camp programs, with more than 12,000 local children participating each year.
The new barn will meet the Trust’s need for a covered space for large groups of people and children, especially in inclement weather. The barn will be used as a meeting and activity space during field trips and summer camp programs at the River Center. Its proximity to the Hidden Homes Trail, a ½ mile loop trail featuring larger-than-life-size animal habitats, make the space perfect for a variety of environmental education programs. This project will help the Trust expand its capacity to provide environmental education to more local children.
“Weather plays a role in our program offerings, and we’ve had to cancel field trips due to rain in the past. The new barn is going to enable us to provide program activities during inclement weather and host multiple school groups on site at the same time,” said Coke Hallowell, the Trust’s Chairman of the Board. “We are looking forward to introducing more local children to the River Center when construction is complete.”
The new barn will be used for Trust community programs and special events at the River Center, in addition to education programs. The Trust will also make the facility available for special event rentals.
The project is made possible by a generous private donor and a matching grant from The Whitney Foundation.
“Replacing the barn has been a much anticipated project for our organization,” said the Trust’s Executive Director Sharon Weaver. “We are thrilled to begin construction on the new barn, and we are incredibly grateful to our private donor and The Whitney Foundation for making this project a reality.”
The San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit land trust formed in 1988 to create a 22-mile Parkway along the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to Highway 99. More information about the Trust’s projects and programs is available at www.riverparkway.org.
Sharon Weaver, Executive Director
(559) 248-8480 ext. 105