News | Oct. 15, 2018

The Barn opens its doors once again

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

After two years of renovations, the DSCR Community Center — also known as “The Barn” — is open and ready to welcome visitors once again. The 80-year-old structure at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, has hosted many recreational and professional functions including conferences, private and government ceremonies, and summer community programs. 


The age of the structure warranted extensive renovations to bring The Barn up-to-code, said Alex Vazquez, general engineer, Defense Logistics Agency Installation Operations Richmond.


“The renovation consisted of interior and exterior renovations: on the exterior, the siding was replaced and a new roof was installed. On the interior, the building was essentially gutted in order to provide newly constructed walls, partitions, improved room layouts, new finishes, and upgraded electrical, fire protection, mass communications, and heating and cooling systems,” Vazquez explained.


As with many older buildings, renovation challenges appear almost as soon as construction begins. In this case, Vazquez said, “Interior demolition and gutting revealed differing site conditions that exposed structural deficiencies, structural changes and existing materials in damaged conditions that would have been impossible to foresee prior to construction with the limited records available from the initial “barn” construction of nearly 80 years ago.”


The historic property sits on land owned by James Bellwood, who grew over 200 varieties of grains, grasses and forage crops, and who ran a dairy farm with over 1,000 Holstein cows. The dairy herd and a prize herd of beef cattle, as well as the Bellwood property’s rural charm, provided a leisurely weekend escape for locals. Visitors came often to view the livestock, gardens and occasional wildlife.


Bellwood restored the land and developed it into one of Virginia’s premier agricultural sites. His work garnered awards at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, and many of his agricultural innovations are on display today in Building 34 on the installation.


The barn that once housed the dairy was razed in 1947, but the present structure was likely used both by the Bellwood family and the U.S. Army as a storage or feed shed.


Vazquez said the restoration challenge was met head-on by the partnership of DLA Installation Operations Richmond, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the construction agent), and the contractor.  


“It took patience and attention to detail to get all the parts right, but the end result is a community center that, along the exterior retains some of that “barn” look, while the interior chimney in the main gathering room blends the past with modernized and appealing room finishes,” he said.  “The lighting is efficient and energy saving, the climate control comfortable, and the restrooms and locker rooms (for summer pool use) are commensurate with the best that can be found in private hotels and resorts.”


The completion of the renovation means the DSCR Community Center now available to offer services through the installation’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program.


To inquire about reserving the Community Center for your event, contact 804-516-9681.