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National Ranching Heritage Center

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1976 opened. 3121 4th St.

As most vernacular architecture of the ranching economy remains on private property and restricted in access, the historical structures at the National Ranching Heritage Center are an invaluable resource for understanding the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Panhandle and South Plains. Some thirty-five historical structures have been preserved in this outdoor museum, ranging from Los Corralitos, a Spanish adobe house of c. 1783, to cattle shipping pens from 1934. In addition to ranch buildings, the center preserves three types of windmill, several corrals and shipping pens, a wooden Santa Fe Railroad Station, and a steam locomotive from the Fort Worth and Denver Railway.

The National Ranching Heritage Center was initiated in 1966 and formally opened north of U.S. 82 on the Tech campus in the U.S. bicentennial of 1976, when the Headquarters and Interpretive Center, designed by Cantrell and Associates, was opened. Willard B. Robinson, professor of architecture at Texas Tech, was the first director of the center and oversaw the moving and restoration of its initial buildings. The center’s significance lies in the retention of the transient structures of the West Texas environment.

Adjacent to the ranching center at 3301 4th Street is the Museum of Texas Tech University (1970, Stiles, Roberts and Messersmith, with McMurtry and Craig; Howard Schmidt and Associates, consulting architects). A general purpose museum that exhibits art, science, natural history, and archaeology, the museum consists of windowless flat-roofed pavilions whose walls curve up from the podium on which the building is set, a design theme established by the freestanding Moody Planetarium pavilion located in the entrance plaza.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "National Ranching Heritage Center", [Lubbock, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 387-388.

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