top of page

The Dairy Barn

on the grounds of the former Central Louisiana State Hospital was built in 1923 and is one of the great icons in Central Louisiana. A goal of the HACL is to

ensure the preservation, restoration, and repurposing of this historic structure.


The Dairy Barn was built in 1923 on the grounds of Central State Hospital in Pineville to provide dairy products for hospital. It was designed by Joseph Carlin, an architect who previously had been treated at Central State Hospital.  An article "The Old Dairy Barn" by Kenneth G. Roy provides an interesting history of the Dairy Barn and the Central State Hospital. 

  • 1950s - Dairy farm operations ceased when pasture land converted to Buhlow Lake.

  • 1986 - The Dairy Barn listed on the National Register of Historic Places

  • 1990s - Barn loft stabilized (some beams replace and steel tension bars installed)

  • 2009 - The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation named the barn one of the 10 most endangered historic sites in Louisiana

  • 2012 - State officials announced plans to move Central State Hospital to a new facility across town.

  • 2014 - A Facebook community was formed by a concerned citizen, Kendra Van Cleef, Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake.  She stated "I would love to SAVE the Dairy Barn at Central Louisiana State Hospital overlooking Fort Buhlow Lake."  Thousands of people have "Liked" the page.

  • June 2015 - Senate Bill 217 passed allowing transfer of the Central State Hospital property to Pineville Downtown Development District.

  • August 2015 - The Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake Committee shared a Historical Structure Report assessing the building, announced that they formed a non-profit organization, and began to raise funds to support plans for restoration, focusing on the North wall first.  They are leading the way and the Historical Association of Central Louisiana supports their effort.

  • March 2016 - Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake established the Save the Dairy Barn Fund at the Central Louisiana Community Foundation, a 501c3.

  • April 2016 - Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake received a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, which when approved by both parties will allow work to begin on the barn.

  • August 2016 - An informational fundraiser raised over $6000 bringing the funds raised to over $26,000.  This included a $5000 donation from the HACL.

  • May 2017 - Save the Dairy Barn announced that as the result of the Dairy Barn Spectacular fundraiser, over $50,000 is available for the north wall project, and scaffolding should be going up soon.

  • April 28, 2018 - Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow (SDBBL) announced on Facebook - "We're ecstatic to report that the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the State of Louisiana has finally been approved and the contract with Petron, LLC as the general contractor for the rebuilding of the North Wall has been signed!"

  • September 6, 2018 - Phase I, the North Wall Project, began.

  • January 2019 - The North Wall Project is finished.  See the before and after photo here.

Present and Future
  • July 2019 - Sold out Red White & Barn Dinner & Firework Viewing Event celebrates state legislative approval of $250,000, exceeding the initial request of funding to roof the Dairy Barn by funding a complete exterior renovation.

  • October 2019 - Stage II, Full Exterior Renovation, is anticipated to begin.

  • January 2022 - After delays due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Phase II, Full Exterior Renovation, began. Unfortunately, due to changes in the economy, the funding is anticipated to cover only 2/3 of the cost to complete the project.  Plans are made to request the additional funding in the 2022 legislative session. Again unfortunately, due to nationwide shortages, the barn's historic red shingles are no longer being mass produced. Work begins on lap shingles while Bayou Rapides Corporation, the renovation company, remains on the waiting list for production to resume.

Save the Dairy Barn at Buhlow Lake Committee continues as the focal point and driver of the initiative to preserve the Dairy Barn, leading to the repurposing of this historic structure and site.


The HACL will be looking further down the road collaborating on concepts and approaches beyond initial preservation and restoration, hopefully leading to adaptive reuse, reintegrating the Dairy Barn back into the community.

Media/News Articles

       Town Talk - 10-17-19

       318Central - 11-5-18

       Town Talk - 9/14/18

       Town Talk - 8-31-16

       Town Talk - 10-28-15

       Town Talk - 2-6-15

       Town Talk - 6-8-15

       Town Talk - 12-12-14

       Forests & People - 2012 2Q

       CLSH Centennial Calendar

Video Links

       KLAX - 1/14/22 1:32

       KALB5 - 1/10/22 2:04

       Fox 8 - 3/23/16 3:03

bottom of page