History of Barney Davis
Barney Memorial Hall was opened in the fall of 1894 to accommodate a large increase in the number of students wanting to study the sciences at Denison University. Its donor, Eugene J. Barney, a trustee of the college, sponsored the project in memory of his father, Eliam E. Barney, who was at one time connected with the faculty of Denison and who later was one of the founders of the Barney-Smith Car Company of Dayton. The building cost $40,000, and $15,000 was spent on new equipment.
All of the science departments - physics, chemistry, geology, botany, and zoology - were housed in the building. The Denison Scientific Association had an assembly room and a library on the top floor.
Barney Hall burned on March 30, 1905 after a fire began in the Chemistry Department and spread throughout the building. An estimated $45,000 in equipment was lost, most of it newly purchased, and some of it was constructed by members of the Scientific Faculty. The chemistry, zoology, and botany departments lost most heavily. Only a small portion of their writings and instruments were saved. One of the most disastrous losses from the fire was that of the Scientific library which was compiled by the late Dr. Clarence L. Herrick who gave the main address at the building's dedication.
After the fire, Eugene Barney again donated the money to have the building rebuilt, but this time with the most up-to-date fireproofing methods. Barney was again occupied by the science departments.
In the last decade, Barney has been the object of much attention. In 1986, the science chairs (Dr. Bork, Dr. Karian, and Dr. Lee Larson) suggested updates for the building. In 1994, Barney was vacated as the Geology, Math, Physics, and Environmental Studies programs moved to the newly constructed Olin Science building. The Environmental Studies program, which was growing in size and scope, began the process of securing a place on campus. In 1995, the Welsh Hills School used Barney for classes. Meanwhile, the decision was made to relocate the English and Environmental Studies programs to Barney and the Davis family committed $1 million for Barney renovation. The building was renamed Barney-Davis Hall to recognize the generosity of both of the building's benefactors.
In 1996, an ecological renovation was decided upon, and was the basis for the Environmental Studies Capstone project which made a presentation to the Board of Trustees. Barney had already become a springboard for ecological education, and in addition to the Capstone presentation, an Environmental Planning/Design course was created which focused on the blueprint effort. Preliminary meetings were held in which floor plan design, fund raising effort, and talks with architects, engineers, and various consultants began. In the same year, the Walter McPhail family committed $1.5 million for the Barney renovation which led to the creation of the McPhail Center for Environmental Studies. The Trustees approved a not-to-exceed budget of $3.6 million and the serious design phase started.
Also in that year, a number of firms were hired to begin working on the project. SEAS/Paul Bierman-Lytle was hired as a design consultant. Rising Sun was hired as the lighting/HVAC consultant. Also, STAN Engineering was hired to handle the electrical and water needs of the renovation.
In 1997, an Ecological Design seminar was created and student employment positions were approved to help with the Barney project (which enabled the creation of this web page!). In the fall of 1997, the Honors/Intro to Environmental Studies class focused on the Barney renovation and blueprints. Several students working on the project did "green" product research and gave recommendations on green products and procedures to use during the construction process. The renovation was also the object of various senior research projects and summer employment positions within the Environmental Studies Program.
Final drawings and specifications were finished up in June 1997 by HRJL Architects and STAN Engineers. Lincoln Construction was hired as the contractor for Barney-Davis Hall. Construction began on October 1, 1997 and continued through August 1998. The ENVS and English departments moved into Barney-Davis Hall just in time for classes to begin in the Fall of 1998.
Barney continues to be an educational tool today. In the spring of 1999 the Environmental Studies senior Capstone Seminar performed a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of Barney to assess the success of the renovation project. The class presented their results to the Board of Trustees and Walter McPhail at the Grand Opening Celebration held in April 1999. The building technologies and systems will continue to be studied and evaluated in the curriculum and by its users.