The Dairy Barn, pre-renovation, 1978 (
The Dairy Barn, pre-renovation, 1978 (

Dairy Barn Celebrates 35 Years

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Thirty-five years ago, an army of volunteers gathered on Athens’ Dairy Lane to clean up hay, manure and assorted flotsam and jetsam in an old barn, all with the goal of opening a cultural arts center on Labor Day.

Since 1978, The Dairy Barn has thrived, becoming one of Athens County’s premiere art galleries and drawing nearly 15,000 visitors per year.

This Labor Day, the arts center is inviting the public to celebrate its anniversary with a picnic on the lawn from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the organization’s website, the barn was originally a functioning dairy barn in part of a complex owned by the Athens State Hospital. After many years of standing vacant, the barn was scheduled to be razed in 1977.

A Citizens Task Force Committee, headed by local artist Harriet Anderson and her husband, Ora, was formed to preserve the barn and turn it into a non-profit arts center.

With only a few days to spare, the committee and the Hocking Valley Arts Council succeeded in their petitions to the governor, and The Dairy Barn Arts Center was founded and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

“The ‘Save the Barn’ campaign back in 1978 was and still is a testimony to the effort of small groups of people wanting something for their community,” said Dairy Barn Executive Director Jane Forrest Redfern. “Groups of volunteers, staff, boards and the hundreds of members of the Dairy Barn have worked to keep that vision alive. They’ve made an effort to save a beautiful piece of our history while working to make it a place for all people to come and learn, experience and bring people together in our community.”

It’s a big anniversary for the Dairy Barn, but it’s only the beginning of the celebrations. The barn itself, which is turning 100 years old in 2014, will be commemorated with the exhibit It’s all About the Barn, along with the unveiling of a new vision for the Dairy Barn for its second century.

Attendees of Monday’s event are encouraged to get a last look at the Quilt National exhibit before it goes on tour. Members will be admitted free of charge. Regular admission applies to non-members.

For details on the Labor Day anniversary celebration, or how to become a member, visit