After fond farewell, Naperville razing Barn Rec Center

  • The Barn Recreation Center and the maintenance shop behind it on Martin Avenue in Naperville are being torn down this week to make way for a central maintenance facility with a public meeting room, restrooms and parking spaces.

    The Barn Recreation Center and the maintenance shop behind it on Martin Avenue in Naperville are being torn down this week to make way for a central maintenance facility with a public meeting room, restrooms and parking spaces. Daily Herald file photo, September 2015

  • A group of Naperville teens in 1965 led fundraising and construction efforts to build what became the Barn Recreation Center, which opened Dec. 4, 1965, with an inaugural dance. The structure is ready to be razed this week after a final farewell in June.

    A group of Naperville teens in 1965 led fundraising and construction efforts to build what became the Barn Recreation Center, which opened Dec. 4, 1965, with an inaugural dance. The structure is ready to be razed this week after a final farewell in June. Courtesy of Naperville Park District

  • Bricks and sections of wood paneling from the Barn Recreation Center in Naperville are free for the taking near the 51-year-old structure that's set to be torn down this week.

    Bricks and sections of wood paneling from the Barn Recreation Center in Naperville are free for the taking near the 51-year-old structure that's set to be torn down this week. Courtesy of Naperville Park District

 
 
Posted7/17/2016 7:23 AM

The Barn's days are numbered -- in the single digits.

Naperville Park District is tearing down the 51-year-old Barn Recreation Center at 421 W. Martin Ave. this week to make way for a new $7.8 million central maintenance facility.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So after celebrating with one last concert June 4 and waiting out the 28th annual Naperville Exchange Club Ribfest in Knoch Park over the Fourth of July weekend, it's time to say goodbye to the iconic structure.

For some Naperville residents who remember the Barn as the site of their high school dances and rock shows, it's been a bit of an emotional goodbye.

Former resident George Bussey, who now lives in Hawaii, came back to commemorate the end of the Barn since he was one of the teens who sold bonds and installed bricks to create it.

Naperville native Veronica Porter attended, too, after finding out about the Barn's upcoming demise, when she hoped to book the venue for the Naperville High School Class of 1976's 40-year reunion.

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"That's where we spent our Friday nights," Porter said.

When she told park district staffers she wanted to rent the Barn for Aug. 12, their response was blunt: it'll be gone by then.

She found it all a bit hard to picture.

"It was just one of those places of permanence," she said. "It had always been there."

But a Naperville without the Barn will come into focus soon.

American Demolition Corp. of Elgin will raze the structure -- along with the old maintenance shop behind it -- this week for $79,930.

Then construction can begin on the maintenance facility, which will provide a safer, more accessible place for park workers to store their equipment as well as a public meeting room, restrooms and parking spaces.

Meanwhile, the park district is allowing people to claim their own piece of the Barn while supplies last with a "Barn surplus material" bin just west of the structure.

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