By Flo Rice
The barn at Blair Woods is thought to be about 110 years old and was originally used as a dairy barn when the Moehr family owned the property in the early 1900’s. Frank and Fern Blair bought a 10 acre tract from the Moehr family in 1951 and then donated what is now known as Blair Woods Nature Preserve to Travis Audubon in 1985. Blar Woods and the surrounding area is rich in history that includes connections to the Camino Real, Fort Colorado and Fort Prairie. Coleman Springs, which is an active terrace gravel aquifer fed spring, is located on the preserve and has likely been used well before any of these settlements.
In 2020, Travis Audubon secured grant money from the St. David’s Foundation for repairs to the barn that were beginning to be urgent. A contractor was found and work was about to begin when the 2020 pandemic put everything on hold. 2020 was a difficult year for all of us, and the barn continued to deteriorate during that time. Fortunately, TAS was able to get the repair work restarted in mid-March this year, and we are very happy to see this structure revived and ready to serve a new purpose. Some of the existing materials in the barn may have been salvaged from Fort Colorado (circa 1836) that was located across MLK Boulevard with a corner of the fort possibly on the Blair property.
The intent for the repair work on the barn was to save as much of the existing fabric of the building as possible using new material to stabilize the structure and stitch the building back together. By reusing as much of the old materials as possible the finished result maintains the patina developed over a century or more of exposure to Texas weather. The work was completed with help from Nathan Quiring, Clayton/Korte, Jerry Garcia, and Justin Roppolo. The finished building will be used as a pavilion, shade structure and outdoor classroom for public gatherings once TAS is able to resume those activities. The completion of this project is the first step of more improvements to come at Blair woods. The developing master plan for this site includes accessible trails through the preserve, bird blind, water feature and eventually a headquarters for TAS.