Musk Ox Farm aims to preserve colony barn
The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer has one of the few remaining colony barns from the 1930s and staff have big plans to renovate the building.
"That will be the first step, take the roof off,” said Executive Director Mark Austin. "That will be an exciting day when the crane comes in and picks this whole thing up and swing it out of the way.”
Austin said the goal of the project is to preserve the iconic gambrel roof. The museum on the first floor will be completely renovated. The unused second floor will be transformed into classroom and workshop space.
"Having this facility year round will mean a whole lot more outreach in the community and bringing kids in here and different things. So, it’s going to be an absolute game-changer for us,” Austin said.
Removing the roof for the renovation project is no small feat. That’s why the project comes with a price tag of $1.2 million. The Rasmuson Foundation has pitched in $350,000 to help cover some of the costs; the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation also gave $300,000.
The Musk Ox Farm sits on land the Lentz family owned as part of the Matanuska Colony Project in the 1930s. The barn is the original structure built in 1935.
Austin said that history is worth saving.
"We could put up a metal building and save a lot of money, I’m sure. But the colony barn is so iconic to the Matanuska Valley and its rich agricultural history, so we do really want to maintain that,” he said.
The farm hopes to secure the rest of the funding for the project by this fall so design work can begin over the winter.
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