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Red Barn to celebrate 40 years with Dec. 11 party

by UofL Today last modified Dec 10, 2009 12:03 PM

The University of Louisville's George J. Howe Red Barn, a cornerstone of student activity and fun at the university since 1969, will celebrate its 40th birthday with a party Dec. 11.

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members are invited to celebrate the barn with food and music. Food will include hors d'oerves, hamburgers, hot dogs, chili dogs and corn on the cob prepared on charcoal grills.

The event is free, but donations – which fund scholarships and programs for UofL students – are encouraged. T-shirts will be available for voluntary contribution and free magnets celebrating the Red Barn's 40th Birthday also will be available. Guests should RSVP by e-mailing George Howe or by calling 852-7467.

In addition to celebrating the Red Barn's 40th anniversary, the party also will kick off the 2010 celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Red Barn Alumni Association.

"It's good to be able to celebrate these two achievements, especially with these new students," said George Howe, UofL’s first director of student activities. He now is the director of special projects and development.

Students encouraged the university to renovate the building that would become the Red Barn.

The first student event in 1969 drew more than 300 people to the 5,000-square-foot factory building. A remnant of Caldwell Tanks Inc. , it had been abandoned for nearly a year when Harold Adams, then UofL’s director of housing, and Gary Steedly, a fraternity adviser, helped students rent the Red Barn for a year-end beer party.

The event was a huge success and students asked UofL to save the building – which was scheduled for demolition. At the time, the university did not have a student activities center.

For the last four decades, the Red Barn has been a cornerstone of activity and campus life for students, faculty and staff.

In just the last year the campus community watched the women's basketball team's trek through the NCAA tournament on a screen in the Red Barn and it was the host venue for the WFPK Live Lunch which is a concert series in partnership with Louisville Public Radio.

The Crawfish Boil attracts hundreds of people annually. And then there's the assortment of other programs -- from department lunches to such student activities as the "Good Morning Commuters" program with free doughnuts and coffee.

In addition to concerts and other social activities, the Red Barn programs office has committed itself to helping UofL students. The office administers three endowed programs to benefit UofL students: the Harold Adams Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Red Barn Alumni Association Florence M. Strickler Endowment and the Torchbearer Endowment and Program.

Since 1988, these programs have provided more than 1100 scholarships totaling more than $189,000 to UofL students. 

Here are some of the Red Barn's most significant moments and events:

1969 – The first event at what was to become the Red Barn was a concert featuring "Your Father's Mustache" with Dennis Spetz as the master of ceremonies.

1969 – The Red Barn was established by Mike Geralds, Louis Bornwasser, Lance Mabry, Rob McGeachin, Danny Miller, Bill Davidson and Woody Strickler (then UofL president).

1970 – The Student Activities Department was created with the hiring of George Howe as director of Student Activities on July 1.

1978 – The Red Barn was renovated to include the addition on the east side of the building, which became the Student Activities offices.

1979 –The Red Barn was formally dedicated on March 30.

1980 –UofL won its first NCAA men's basketball championship and sportscaster Al Maguire came to the Red Barn to dedicate the banner that hangs on the Red Barn Wall of Fame.

1980 – The Red Barn hosted the ABC live television show "Friday Night Live at the Kentucky Derby" on May 2. The show featured a performance by musician Dan Fogelberg, with Frank Gifford and Sandy Hill as commentators. Guests included UofL basketball player actor Darrell Griffith and Jack Klugman.

1985 –The Red Barn Alumni Association (RBAA) was established by alumni Tom Boykin, Kenny Minogue, Mike Ruckriegle, Jimmy Snyder, Denis "Bear" Noltemeyer, Paul Noltemeyer and Ray Oakes.

1987-The endowed Harold Adams Memorial Scholarship Fund was established with $5,000.

1998 – The RBAA began raising funds for the new Red Barn endowment to ensure the well-being of the Red Barn and to preserve the programming that is the tradition of the Red Barn.

1998 – The Red Barn Programs office opened on Nov. 24.

2003 –UofL received $50,000 from the estate of Florence M Strickler, which went into the RBAA Florence M Strickler Endowment on Oct. 17.

2007 – UofL Board of trustees on June 14 voted to rename the Red barn to the George J. Howe Red Barn.

2007 – The George J. Howe Student Leadership Fund was established.

2008 – The Red Barn Alumni Association Endowment was established with $25,000.

2008 – The George J. Howe Endowment was established with $10,000.

2009 – In honor of the Red Barn's 40th Birthday, RBAA hosted the Summerfest Concert Series, attracting students, faculty, staff and alumni.

2009 – In September, October and November, SAB partnered with Louisville Public Radio to host the show WFPK “Live Lunch" at the Red Barn.

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