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March 31, 2013
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Historic barn fading quickly in Avon

AVON - Historic preservation is a tricky business. Sometimes, an old structure is simply too ravaged by time to save.

A century-old barn in town may be in that sad category. The barn, originally built by the Hahnewald family sometime before 1910, is decaying, and quickly. The barn is owned by the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and is currently used to store equipment.

But even that simple use is deteriorating. District manager Linn Brooks said forklifts can no longer retrieve equipment from the upper level. The concrete foundation on the lower level is deteriorating, too. As old concrete does, it's decomposing into its original elements, leaving much of the barn held up by scaffolding.

Beyond the steady deterioration of the building, the district also needs the property the barn sits on, and needs it fairly soon. The district will have to expand its Avon wastewater treatment plant to meet new federal water quality standards. That work will start in late 2017. In early 2016, the district will have to start work on a new building for equipment and vehicle storage, as well as maintenance. The barn now sits on the land for the new building.

In preparation for that work, the district has budgeted money this year to tear down the old barn. That puts a ticking clock on efforts to preserve the building. In this case, though, preserving the building means moving it.

Brooks was clear that there isn't enough room on the district's property for both new facilities and the crumbling barn. So, while the district will be glad to donate the building to any group that wants it, it has to go.

That could be an expensive proposition. Town of Avon officials have a current estimate of more than $250,000 to move the barn and rebuild it so it's safe. The town doesn't have the money to do that work right now.

Even if the money was available, there aren't many places in Avon to put a barn that's more than 100 feet long.

"We need to see whether or not we can't come to a solution that works for everyone," Avon Mayor Rich Carroll said. "We're exploring our options."

Council member Dave Dantas said in a perfect world, the barn would be moved and preserved as it is. But, he said, one practical solution would be to dismantle the structure and use pieces of it to build an event stage at Nottingham Park.

"If we used parts for a stage, maybe we could find sponsors" to pay for the project, Dantas said.

Jeannette Hicks and her husband live in Houston, but they own a condo near the Eagle River in Avon. A few years ago, Hicks helped lead an effort to restore and replace an old hydroelectric power plant that used to generate electricity for the Nottingham family's home and store.

Hicks said she hopes town officials and residents can find a way to preserve the barn, so both residents and visitors can get at least a glimpse into early life in the area.

Dantas agreed that it's important to preserve as much of the valley's past as possible.

But, he said, any project "also has to be practical."

The next several months may determine if the barn is too far gone to save, in any form.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@

vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 31, 2013 08:22PM Published Mar 31, 2013 08:19PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.