RIT’s Red Barn Climbing Gym is the oldest building on campus. Built in 1908, the structure we now call the Red Barn belonged to local farmers until RIT purchased the land on which it sat during our transition to the Henrietta campus in 1968.

Initially, the barn’s intended use was as a night spot where dances, banquets, concerts and other parties could be held. During the planning phase, which lasted from early spring of 1968 to that same fall, the barn was nicknamed the “Beer Barn.” That October, the project of converting the barn into a student activities building was dropped due to cost, in favor of building a student area on what were then picnic grounds.

Originally, the main building that is the Red Barn we know it to be today had a smaller, accessory barn branching off the side and a silo opposite that. Today, only the main barn remains.

Following the halt in conversion plans, Facilities Management Services used the Red Barn to store their equipment until the building was cleaned out to make room for an outdoors adventure program, which included rock climbing, in 1982.

Students participating in a team-building activity in 1988
Students participating in a team-building activity in 1988

It was only in 2005 that the Red Barn Climbing Gym, as we know it today, was established.

The Red Barn, rustically charming as ever, is now consider by many to be the premier climbing location in Western New York. It hosts 40 RIT classes and brings in around 25,000 visitors per year! If you’ve never climbed before, there are beginner routes as well as a variety of walls to climb, including a top-rope wall, a top-off wall and bouldering caves downstairs. The best part is that RIT students receive a climbing discount when they present their school IDs.


Information on the Red Barn Climbing Gym’s rates and schedule can be found here on their website, or you can call for more information at (585) 292-6571.

To stay updated on Red Barn Climbing news and events, you can follow their Facebook.

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