Future of SOB barn begins evaluation

The prospect of the “Save Our Barn” (SOB) barn has the Bozeman Community concerned. The Barn was closed around late October after it was determined that it did not comply with fire egress code. The barn is most commonly known among students for being home to Friday night swing dances.

The barn is part of MSU’s land grant heritage and is regarded as a historical landmark. The barn was almost demolished in the 1970s but students voiced their opinions toward the barn and saved it from being destroyed, hence the name “Save Our Barn”. The barn’s history is what makes it such an iconic and unique building on campus.

When the issues were initially discovered, faculty began investigating the different options and analyze how financially feasible the options were. Tom Stump, the Director of Residence Life/University Food Service and Auxiliary Services, has been involved in evaluating the possibilities.

The barn was assessed by an architecture firm and the report stated that the barn was vertically and horizontally stressed, adding yet another issue to be considered. The accumulation of problems makes the barn unsafe, which is the main concern of the schools. “Safety is the number one issue here and what we are focusing on,” Stump said.

The range of solutions take into account what they want the barn to be used for. The minimal amount of repairs, taking care of problems like emergency lighting and ensuring all doors open outwards, would allow for a crowd of around 49 people in the barn. The most basic repairs would not address certain structural issues and the issues only guarantee temporary use of the barn. As more intensive repairs are considered, the amount of money increases as well.

Stump noted that when the barn was initially saved from destruction, it was not remodeled or fixed. “They saved the barn, they didn’t put any money into it, they didn’t say ‘let’s make the barn so it’s here for another 100 years,’ they just saved it. From that point on in the late 60’s we haven’t done a lot of repair to it. Part of it yes has withstood all these years, but now we need to do something about it.”

The repairs will vary for the intended use of the barn. If a decision is made to repair the barn to a state where it can safely occupy large crowds for events then it will be an intensive and time consuming process. Another possible outcome is using the barn not for crowds. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the barns future, there has not been a set budget for the repairs.

Chancey Ringer, the assistant director of Family and Graduate Housing (FGH), used the SOB barn for FGH events. Ringer also emphasized the hesitation of the school to make a decision on what the barn will be used for. “We’re looking at the building as a structure and not necessarily what will be in it,” Ringer said.

Stump and Ringer both emphasized that the decision will be made taking into account the students voice as well as all other variables, the only option not being considered is demolishing the barn. “This is an iconic barn, there is no way we would ever tear it down,” Stump said.