Dairy Barn gets new red shingles, donations needed as restoration project moves toward Phase 2

After years of waiting for red shingles, the next phase of rehabilitation is complete on the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake.

Keep Supporting the Save the Dairy Barn Committee, whose goal is the complete restoration of the structure.

The Dairy Barn was completed in 1923. The barn was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1986. The Central Louisiana State Hospital Dairy Barn is of statewide significance in the area of architecture as a very unusual example of a farm outbuilding. The building is a 12,500 square foot structure, which was officially opened in 1923 at a cost of $15,736. The barn is a two-story frame structure with single story wings. It has a commanding position atop a knoll overlooking Lake Buhlow, which at the time of the barn’s construction was a large grazing pasture for the cattle. Cattle were herded from the barn to the pasture through a tunnel under the old Highway 71.

Builder was Joseph Carlin, an architect who was a former patient that remained on staff after his successful treatment. He also designed and built the Rose Cottage as a pathological laboratory, later mortuary, now a museum. Joseph Hermance Carlin died November 28, 1923 at the age of 54, shortly after the dairy barn was completed. According to his Catholic death record, he died of lobar pneumonia. His body was taken by train to Rayne Louisiana. He was buried at St-Joseph Catholic Church Cemetery. Unfortunately, his grave cannot be found.

Dairy operations ceased at that location in the late 1950’s due to the building of Lake Buhlow and moved to Grant Parish. Since then the Barn has mainly been used for storage and most recently was the painting shop, although it is essentially unused today.

In 1986 it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

In the 1990’s Tudor Construction was contracted to stabalize the building because it was feared it was in danger of collapsing. Laminated beams were made to replace 10 of the original curved beams that support the roof, and steel tension bars were placed horizontally throughout the loft’s interior for extra reinforcement.

In 2009 it was chosen by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the most endangered historic sites in the state.

In 2012 the State of LA announced plans to relocate CLSH to a new facility near Pinecrest. However, funding is in Priority 5, which means the timeline is uncertain.

Many people have talked about ideas for the barn and how it should be saved. But nothing concrete had taken place.

On November 11, 2014 Kendra Van Cleef created the “Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake” page on Facebook. Within a week there were over 3,000 likes  and currently the page is closing in on 12,000 people who LOVE this beautiful Pineville icon! At the same time Nathan Martin, Pastor of Christian Challenge and Pineville City Councilman had concerns about the barn and had already inquired about the barn to Mr. Tom David. So with great interest in the barn a committee was formed to explore possible uses for the barn, cost of restoration and somehow get enough support to get this beautiful piece of history saved from collapse. 

The barn has never been in danger of being demolished, no one wants to destroy it. The primary concern is the deterioration due to weather, and the lack of a plan for its restoration and use. 

The committee met with Ron Williams, the CEO of Central Louisiana State Hospital, and members of his staff in January of 2015 and the journey began! The Facebook page has had the attention of Department of Health Hospital in Baton Rouge, and many politicians! Since that first meeting over $55,000 has been raised and Phase 1 has been completed.

Please consider donating to this project! Phase 2 has just began. Your support will help preserve and restore the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake which will lead to the repurposing of this historic structure and site.

Mail your Donation to:

Save The Dairy Barn

1414 Jackson St

Alexandria, LA 71301