Teton Raptor Center Nears Historic Restoration Goal
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
The Teton Raptor Center was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help the site become a year-round destination for anyone interested in learning more about the region's owls, eagles, hawks, falcons and other wild birds.
Amy McCarthy, executive director of the Teton Raptor Center said the property, which sits along Highway 22 heading into Wilson, was originally a classic ranch for prized Herefords spanning 137 acres.
"Which encompassed a number of outbuildings, a homestead, as well as the iconic wind-proof Gothic Hardeman Barn. That's the real treasure and icon of the property," McCarthy said.
From the 1930s through the 1980s, Hardeman Barns was a working ranch. When developers moved in to build town homes, the Jackson Hole Land Trust stepped in to purchase the barns and meadows to conserve what is widely seen as a "character-defining" property for Jackson Hole valley communities.
The Teton Raptor Center, which had been caring for injured wild birds from its founder's home, moved onto the property in 2008. In 2017, the Center purchased a 27-acre parcel and started raising money to rehabilitate the historic structures.
McCarthy said one goal of the project is to retain and showcase the hand-made wooden rafters that make up the interior ceiling of the wind-proof barn.
"So an experience at Teton Raptor Center would not only bring the natural history of owls, eagles, hawks and falcons into one's learning experience, but they will also get a cultural immersion in this historic space," McCarthy said.
The Center has raised about 90% of its $12-million dollar capital campaign goal, and McCarthy said it's on track to open the iconic Gothic barn to the public next spring. She said the best way to save an old building is to use it. While that does mean there will be some level of adaptation, there is a way to balance the history and the future of these special spaces.
"We have to make this building accessible and safe, and support from historic-preservation organizations is essential to celebrate the past while giving it a future," McCarthy said.
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