History Colorado’s State Historical Fund awarded Parks & Open Space a $200,000 grant to complete the first phase of the Wencel barn restoration at Braly open space, located on N. 61st Street near Hygiene.
Wencel Barn Restoration Project
This project embodies the county’s long-standing vision to preserve the rural character and cultural resources of unincorporated Boulder County through the identification and preservation of historic and archaeological sites and the protection of historic properties from destruction or harmful alteration.
The Wencel barn is an important enduring symbol of the area’s farming history and represents the type of family farm that has rapidly disappeared due to the increased land value and decreased farming profitability.
The construction phase of the project is anticipated to begin summer 2020 and be completed by the end of the year. The first phase will be completed by a contractor and include rehabilitation of the failing structural elements of the 116-year-old barn. Future phases will be completed by Parks & Open Space staff.
The Braly open space property was heavily damaged by the 2013 flood. Repairs are currently underway to Lake 4, West Lake, and the A-Frame Pond located a short distance from the barn. The flood recovery project includes repairs to the breached embankments and the construction of new emergency spillways that will better protect the area in future flood event. The barn sustained only minor damage during the flood.
Braly open space is currently closed to the public until resources are available to prepare the property for public visitation. The St. Vrain Creek Corridor Open Space Management Plan identifies projects for future public visitation including constructing trails, providing fishing access, and developing interpretive environmental and cultural opportunities on the property.
The Wencel barn is located on the Braly open space property near Hygiene. The barn was purchased in 2000 as part of the 112-acre property acquisition with open space sales tax funds and funding from Great Outdoors Colorado. It is listed as a Boulder County historic landmark, defined as structures, sites, or districts which have been designated by the county commissioners because of their historic significance and importance to the county. The barn is recognized for its contributions to the development of early 20th century agriculture and is named after its builder, Mathias Wencel.
In December 1899, Mathias Wencel purchased the property. He constructed the large hay barn to support his family’s farming operation beginning in November 1900 and completed the project in 1903. In 1942, Mathias retired from farming and turned over the operations to his two sons, Frederick and Edward. The property was later gravel mined after farming operations ceased.
Restoration Project Funding
The State Historical Fund is a statewide grants program that was created by the 1990 constitutional amendment allowing limited gaming in the towns of Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk. The constitutional amendment directs that a portion of the gaming tax revenues be used for historic preservation projects throughout the state. State Historical Funds grants are distributed throughout the State of Colorado through a competitive application process. All projects must demonstrate strong public benefit and community support.