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Open house scheduled for JB Visitor's Center

The historic Jefferson Barracks barn has been renovated and once again converted into a visitors' center.

An open house for the Jefferson Bar-racks Visitors' Center will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 24.

Marc Kollbaum, curator for the St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department at Jefferson Barracks and author of "Gate-way to the West: the History of Jefferson Barracks from 1826-1894, Volume 1," will be present to sign copies of his book.

The $1 million renovation was funded by local, state and federal grants, as well as private donations.

The structure has had a long and colorful history, its function evolving to reflect changes in military requirements. The Army originally constructed the building for use as a barn for the Ordnance Department in 1878. It also has served as a tank repair fa-cility and a supply warehouse.

The wooden, second floor was removed after Jefferson Barracks was deactivated in 1946.

The structure then was used as a tavern, known as the "Red Rose," and later as a St. Louis County "Police Academy," ac-cording to a news release.

The St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation since has used it for history education programs and a gift shop run by the Friends of Jefferson Barracks.

The Friends of Jefferson Barracks, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to im-provements in Jefferson Barracks Park, was formed in 1985 with a primary goal to see the expansion of this structure back to its original 1878 size, to be used not only as a visitors' center and gift shop, but to provide space for educational classes, special events and a library.

The organization's efforts and dedication to the project were realized when, in 2000, the county Department of Parks and Rec-reation identified this project as one of its highest priorities for capital improvement, partly due to considerable public input.

The restored structure's first level houses administrative offices and a gift shop. The upper level contains spaces for meetings and special events.

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