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Apple’s new campus will include a rebuilt 100-year-old barn

Silicon Valley giant will celebrate completing its new HQ by raising a barn

A black and white photo of a large black barn with pine trees behind it and an orchard in front, taken from the air.
The Glendenning family barn, before being procured by Silicon Valley. (Year uncertain.)
Courtesy Cupertino Historical Society

The Silicon Valley Business Journal dished this week about the Apple Campus 2’s $5 billion price tag and two-year delay. It also mentioned a curious side project next to the impending spaceship-like structure:

“Apple will preserve a century-old barn that has remained in place as the property changed hands over the last 100 years.”

Yes, a barn circa 1916, known to historians as the Glendenning Barn, will go up next to the Lord Norman Foster-designed campus. Local tech titans have made a tradition out of preserving this humble structure, which has now rubbed shoulders with two mammoths of the industry.

But before the barn was used as a rustic accent for tech giants, it first served its purpose on an apricot farm.

In 1850, Australian immigrant Robert Glendenning and his new Scottish wife sailed to San Francisco and “purchased squatter’s rights to land, living in a tent with his foodstuffs in a board shed” in what is today Cupertino, according to Cupertino history teacher Mary Lou Lyon.

The old Glendenning family home, no longer extant.

Glendenning’s granddaughter, Margaret, and her husband eventually built the barn on that land in 1916 (long after Glendenning’s death), by which time the family was growing apricots for Gerber baby food.

Most of the family farm sold piece by piece to developers in the mid 20th century. Hewlett-Packard bought the Glendenning house itself and bulldozed it to make way for their own Cupertino headquarters. But somehow the barn managed to endure.

In 2004, a San Jose Mercury News columnist wrote:

No one, it seems, knows exactly how the barn survived decades of development. It was there when HP bought the land in 1971. The company used it for storage and it became the centerpiece of a campus picnic area.

HP executives were intrigued by the barn's history and by an idea the historical society had. Why not [dedicate] the barn as a historical monument?

HP employees nicknamed the Glendenning office the “apricot division.”

When Apple procured the land from HP to build their own mega-HQ, local historians expressed some concern. The campus project’s EIR noted:

The Glendenning Barn lacked sufficient integrity to qualify for the California Register of Historical Resources. However, because it is listed as a Historic Site in the City’s General Plan, the barn is presumed to be a historic resource for the purpose of CEQA.

The orchards in 1926.

So Apple promised to save it. But since the barn’s longtime location didn’t fit into the new campus layout, the company carefully dismantled the antique building, and will soon rebuild it near its employee fitness center.

That’s right: In 2017, Silicon Valley’s most iconic tech company will mark the completion of its multi-billion dollar, starchitect-designed, space-age headquarters by raising a barn.