Oxford Horse Ranch

Farm Heritage Award Winner

Location: Wyoming
Year of Award: 1998
Original Use: Horses
Current Use: Cattle, Horses, Livestock

Oxford Horse Ranch-Laramie, WY after rehabilitation.

When Dick and Kris McGuire purchased the old Oxford Horse Ranch in 1992, they inherited a Wyoming landmark - a huge, 160 x 50-foot log barn built in 1887 for thoroughbred horses.  The barn was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was a source of local pride, and was falling down.  Although the McGuires bought the property for the land, not the buildings, they took their responsibility as owners of a historic landmark seriously, and after years of hard work they have brought the barn back from certain collapse.

The McGuires' barn restoration project got a boost in 1992 when a BARN AGAIN!-sponsored workshop brought national log restoration specialist Harrison Goodall to Laramie.  Goodall inspected every square inch of the barn, and determined that while the whole east wall was leaning precariously, the upper wall was leaning 18 inches further than the top of the lower wall.  He recommended straightening the upper part first, then straightening the entire wall.  The straightening was done with cables and turnbuckles, and per Goodall's recommendations, it was done slowly.  "It worked like braces on a kid's teeth," said Dick. It took a year of slowly tightening the cables to straighten the top part, and another two years to bring the entire east wall upright.  "When the walls came in, the roof popped up," said Dick.

Five years later the barn has straight walls, a new metal roof, a new foundation and new supports. It is the centerpiece of the 3,500-acre ranch, and home to a herd of up to 500 cashmere goats, as well as shelter for horses in the winter time.  "It is one of the largest log structures in the state, with a colorful past," said Kris McGuire.  "I could not bear to let it collapse."