College plans a barn party

Old building will promenade to a new spot

July 26, 2006|By ALIA MALIK | ALIA MALIK,SUN REPORTER

A 63-year-old barn isn't going to stand in the way of a $7 million construction project at Anne Arundel Community College.

Instead, it's going to be moved out of the way.

Sometime next week, the college in Arnold will put the 4,500-square-foot barn and its two 40-foot silos on jacks and move them about 300 yards toward College Parkway. A new administrative services building will go on the barn's old site.

To commemorate the occasion, the college will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking today and take on the guise of an old-fashioned fairground, with a petting zoo, pony rides and square dancing. It will also roll out a huge canvas on which students can write their memories of the barn, said spokeswoman Linda Schulte.

"We wanted something that reflected barn life, and we didn't have any dairy cows, so we thought we'd go with some little animals and some square dancing and some things that reflected the old barn days," Schulte said. "It's a good way to celebrate what the barn represents and have a little fun with it."

The barn was built in 1943 on a 150-acre dairy farm owned by Ernest and Helen Mueller. The Muellers eventually sold some of their land, including the barn, to the county Board of Education, which used it to build part of Anne Arundel Community College, Schulte said.

In recent years, the local landmark has been used for storage and for the college's sculpture classes.

The college had wanted to raze the barn, but after longtime residents objected, County Executive Janet S. Owens refused to fund the new administrative services building unless the barn was moved instead.

"It means a lot to people who have been in this county for a long time," Owens said. "That barn is one of the last vestiges of farming history along the Broadneck Peninsula, and I believed that it added charm and could in fact be useful to the college."

The college, however, has stopped holding sculpture classes in it. One of the classes will be moved to another building in the fall, but the general sculpture classes have been suspended until a new studio is completed in fall 2007.

For students such as Edgewater resident Barbara Cantor, 69, that is a big disappointment. Cantor, who took sculpture at the college for four years, will switch to a program at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis. She said she will miss the barn.

"The sadness is that the barn is the ideal space, even though it needed renovation," Cantor said. "You could be messy, you could be noisy, you could work outside if you needed to."

Cantor and her classmates, ranging in age from 18 to over 70, also lost popular teacher D.H. Banker, who left because she no longer had a steady income when the general sculpture classes were suspended.

As for the barn, Jim Taylor, college director of capital development, said the silos, loft and roof will be lifted by hydraulic jacks and wheeled across an old gravel lot, to be placed on a new concrete foundation.

When completed in August 2007, the 34,000-square-foot administrative services building will house many of the departments that run the college's daily operations, including public safety, grounds maintenance and facilities management, Schulte said. Those departments are scattered throughout the campus, taking up valuable classroom space, Schulte said.

"It will be a way to streamline some of our operations on the facilities side by bringing everyone under one roof," she added.alia.malik@baltsun.com

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new administrative services building will begin at 11 a.m. today, with the free barn festival from noon to 2 p.m. Food and refreshments will be sold. Information: 410-777-2222.

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