Blair Woods Sanctuary is a unique urban center for habitat restoration and conservation education, and in 2020 Travis Audubon will undertake an essential project to better understand and preserve the historical significance of the sanctuary. Thanks to a generous grant from St. David’s Foundation, we will be able to restore the property’s historic dairy barn as a shade structure and outdoor classroom where the community can both have access to nature and learn about Austin’s history.
In 1985, noted zoologist and UT Professor Dr. Frank Blair and his wife Fern gifted Travis Audubon their 10-acre property on MLK. In his lifetime, Dr. Blair and Fern used this property as an outdoor teaching laboratory.Now centered in a rapidly developing area of East Austin, Blair Woods provides essential green space for the surrounding neighborhoods. Open to the public daily, Blair Woods is a place where Austinites can connect with nature on their own or participate in Travis Audubon’s free educational programming.
The preserve includes an historic wood and tin roof dairy barn dating back to the early 1900’s. This barn was used, and possibly built, by the Moehr family, 1st generation Swiss immigrants. Over 100 years old and still standing today, the barn is slated for restoration and use supporting Travis Audubon’s educational activities at the preserve. The barn, which in recent years has been used only for storage, will be carefully restored in 2020 for use as an outdoor classroom and shade structure. The goal is that the barn can be a comfortable, shaded structure where visitors can both seek refuge when they spend time in nature and learn about the rich history of the property and East Austin through interpretive signage. Restoring a shaded space while preserving the barn’s historical significance has a twofold benefit: making the preserve more practically useful and contributing to the documentation of the important history of East Austin and its residents.
By providing this outdoor learning environment we hope to continue the legacy of the Blairs’ generous gift. If you are interested in supporting this project, consider making a donation to Travis Audubon’s Amplify Austin campaign: St. David’s Foundation will match every donation made through Travis Audubon’s Amplify Austin webpage now through March 6th. Stay tuned for more updates on the barn restoration project!