In October 2019, History Colorado’s State Historical Fund awarded Parks & Open Space a $200,000 grant to complete Phase I of the Wencel barn rehabilitation at the Braly Open Space, located on North 61st Street near Hygiene.
Wencel Barn Rehabilitation 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 grant funded Phase I construction project began in June 2020 and was completed in early January 2021. H.W. Houston Construction completed Phase I and included rehabilitation of the failing structural members of the now 117-year-old barn. Starting a large construction project during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic presented numerous challenges that had to be overcome with creative thinking and patience. Once the project started, the barn’s structural condition proved to be in more precarious condition than anticipated and resulted in more structural bracing requirements. The contractor and structural engineer used creative thinking to successfully repair and create a structural safe barn. In the end, the project was completed on time and considerably under budget.
- August 2021: Parks & Open Space Buildings and Historic Preservation crew anticipate to begin repairs to the attached milking parlor addition.
- August 2021: Construction contractor anticipates to start reconstruction and installation of the concrete silo fireman’s hat top cover.
- April 2021: Parks & Open Space Buildings and Historic Preservation began Phase II
- Jan. 7, 2021: Flood Plain Development and Building Permits closed
- Jan. 6, 2021: Structural engineer approves the project
- Nov. 6, 2020: Final inspection scheduled
- Oct. 12, 2020: Contractor demobilization begins
- Oct. 9, 2020: Installation of vertical metal cable matrix system completed
- Oct. 5, 2020: Installation begins of vertical metal cable matrix system
- Oct. 2, 2020: Metal bracket installation completed
- Sept. 28, 2020: Installation begins for 60 metal brackets that will anchor interior metal cable matrix system
- Sept. 25, 2020: Roof repairs completed
- Sept. 21, 2020: Roof repairs begin
- Sept. 15, 2020: Installation of hay loft wire cable matrix stabilizing system begins
- Sept. 4, 2020: Completed exterior siding repairs
- Aug. 28, 2020: Started exterior siding repairs
- Aug. 24, 2020: Finished installing the metal column plates and brackets
- Aug. 14, 2020: Completed installation of new supplemental beams to purlins, began installing new 4×4 beams and cleats at the roof rake
- Aug. 6, 2020: Completed hay loft wood floor installation; began installing new supplemental beams to purlins, new cleats, and diagonal knee bracing in hay loft
- July 31, 2020: New concrete footers poured for 14 interior columns
- July 7, 2020: H.W. Houston starts construction phase
- June 11, 2020: Contract process initiated with H.W. Houston Construction LLC
- June 10, 2020: Building permit and flood plain development permit issued
- June 10, 2020: Project award recommendation for construction services to H.W. Houston Construction LLC
- May 1, 2020: Invitation to Bid for construction services released
- Feb. 7, 2020: Temporary stabilization by Parks & Open Space Staff completed
- Dec. 12, 2019: Construction documents approved by the State Historical Fund
- Nov. 12, 2019: On site consultation with State Historical Fund
- Oct. 25, 2019: The administrative phase of the Wencel Barn project began
- Oct 3, 2019: Site visit with Boulder County Floodplain Program
The Braly open space property was heavily damaged by the 2013 flood. Repairs were recently completed to Lake 4, West Lake, and the A-Frame Pond located a short distance from the barn. The flood recovery project included 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.
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.