Once the site of joyous celebrations and a beloved meeting place, the old Luttrell barn is slowly crumbling from years of disrepair on a small plot of land tucked back against the Moffat County Fairgrounds.
“It’s pretty rough,” said Development Services Coordinator for Moffat County Roy Tipton. “When I got there and saw this, saw the shape it was in, well, it’s just a danger to the public.”
Even before the county closed the facility to public use and reservations, the old barn’s renown had faded greatly from its heyday.
“The rent (for events) is barely enough to cover the cost of the basic electricity and paper goods,” Tipton said. “We’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it for over a year. This thing right now is pretty much a billboard.”
In spite of its declining attendance there still is a demand for the stately old building and the large, high-ceiling rooms that have held countless gatherings throughout the years.
“People have called me several times this year and have been really upset that they couldn’t rent it out this year,” said Parks Department Facility Coordinator Erin Miller. “We just had to draw the line somewhere. We didn’t want to wait until someone got hurt to say it was time to quit” using the building.
Donated to the now-defunct Arts & Humanities Council in 1976 and later sold to the county for $1, the Luttrell Barn has needed extensive repairs for years. For much of that time, the county simply didn’t have the funds to take care of the structure, let alone improve it.
“It needs a total overhaul. It needs everything you can think of plus some,” Tipton said. “There’s $180,000 in the budget for it but it would take much more than — a lot more than that — to make it safe for the public. At some point you have to ask yourself, ‘Is the money worth it?’”
Built around 1904, the Luttrell barn was moved from its original location along the creek near what is now Abbey Carpets in Craig and partially renovated to house an exhibition and event space as well as a theater.
It was never intended to be used as a year-round facility and little has been done to the structure since.
“You’d never be able to rehab it,” said Dan Davidson, of the Museum of Northwest Colorado. “The problem is, it’s a barn. It was never meant to be anything else. You can’t do what needs to be done because the structure just won’t support it.”
Several ideas for what to do with the land and building have been bandied about, but no decisions have been made.
The Wyman Living History Museum has voiced interest in moving the barn to its property just east of Craig. It would be an expensive and difficult undertaking, not to mention the second move for what is now a large but fragile structure.
“It was made to store enough hay for the long Colorado winters,” Tipton said. “But now there’s a lot of moisture getting in there. There’s a lot of parts that are rotten.”
Another possibility would be to sell the property to Kum & Go gas station. A new travel center would be built along the road and the city would move the repair shop and fairground offices into new buildings on the land where the Luttrell barn now stands.
“People have some great ideas and I know so many people in town who are attached to (the Luttrell barn) and have great memories there,” said Patt McCaffrey, of the Craig Campground. “I just feel that we should preserve our history here in Moffat County and leave something for the kids.”
Miller stressed that no decisions have been made and that the county commissioners would still consider new ideas. There has not been a date set to make any final determinations about the old barn’s fate.
“Kids were married here, people celebrated anniversaries and birthdays and graduations here,” McCaffrey said. “It’s just such a beautiful place, and it would really be a shame to lose it.”