Posts Tagged "Barns"

Tobacco Barns Preservation Project

Posted by on Aug 6, 2012 in Barn Preservation, The Barn Journal | 1 comment

Photo courtesy of Preservation Virginia.


Preservation Virginia has launched in tobacco barns preservation project. Sonja Ingram, Preservation Virginia’s Partners in the Field Representative stated, “Upon the Pittsylvania County Tobacco Barns listing on Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered list, we received an influx of inquires regarding the importance of saving these now endangered structures and wanted to provide a proactive solution to address their preservation.”

The Tobacco Barns Preservation Project’s goals are to raise awareness on the importance of tobacco barns as they relate to the larger rural landscapes of Virginia; to educate the public and students on the importance of local agricultural heritage; and to create a model that can be used in other regions of the state to help protect Virginia’s rural, agricultural heritage resources.

A large part of the project will include a volunteer survey to assess the number, types and conditions of tobacco barns in the county for further research and protection programs. The survey project starts this fall.

In addition to introducing the program, the initial meeting was attended by over forty people interested in barn preservation and provided barn owners with information on adaptive reuse strategies and potential economic advantages of barn preservation through agritourism and heritage tourism. Farmers, local government representatives, historic and social organizations and anyone interested in learning about protecting tobacco barns and other rural heritage resources are invited to attend. Volunteers will also be sought at the initial meeting to assist with the survey and documentation portion of the project.

Dominating the Virginia economy after 1622, tobacco remained the staple of the Chesapeake colonies and its phenomenal rise is one of the most remarkable aspects of Virginia. The production of “bright-leaf” tobacco in Virginia’s Piedmont made many towns and counties, including Danville and Pittsylvania County, major suppliers of tobacco for Virginia and the nation. For centuries, log built and wood-frame tobacco curing barns have graced the agricultural fields of Virginia. The survey will entail photographing and documenting tobacco barns in Pittsylvania County. A training session will be held before the survey begins to provide basic survey techniques.

However, due to tobacco buy-out programs, a general decline in farming and advances in tobacco curing technologies that left older barns obsolete; historic tobacco barns— a lasting symbol of the rural heritage of the Commonwealth and the nation— are now being lost at an alarming rate.

An important piece of Virginia’s rural heritage and vernacular architecture is in great threat.  And this project hopes to change that so that future generations can enjoy these barns.

If you would like to get involved in this program, please contact Sonja Ingram at Preservation Virginia.


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The Heritage Barns of Indiana Project

Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in barn education, Barn Preservation, The Barn Journal | 2 comments

McFadden Farms Stagecoach Barn in Posey County.

The Heritage Barns of Indiana Project is an on-going painting project which focuses on our dwindling heritage of early Indiana barns. The artist, Gwen Gutwein, a Barn Alliance member and  owner of

Gwen painting the Normandy Barn at the Indiana State Fair Grounds in Marion County.

a fine art studio/gallery in Fort Wayne, started this huge and important project in 2004.  She is striving to do paintings of at least two old and/or historic barns from each of Indiana’s 92 counties.  Along with the paintings, Gwen collects the barn’s distinctive history.  To date, she has completed over 110 out of the expected goal of 184 paintings.

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art sponsored the traveling exhibit: First Fifty, Heritage Barns of Indiana.  They took Gwen’s first 50 completed paintings and their histories and put them on tour throughout Indiana.  The exhibit has cataloged over 168,000 viewers!  The painting tour is coming to a close this year after over three years of traveling.  The first fifty paintings will be available for purchase after the tour is completed.  The next group of 50 paintings will be available for exhibit soon.

Hippensteel Barn in DeKalb County.

Inspiration for the Barns of Indiana project sprang out of Gwen’s desire to focus attention on the beauty and demise of our barns.  The world zooms past the old barns, without a glance.  As the seasons pass into years the barns from earlier centuries quietly bow their heads, close their eyes and vanish.  Indiana has a treasure, our barns.  Venture into any old barn and you will be amazed at the building materials used, the unique designs and the quality of construction.  They reflect the diversity, ingenuity and integrity of our ancestors and are chocked full of rich history…a treasure to behold…an Indiana treasure.

Since 2008 Gwen has published a calendar with a barn painting featured on each month. The calendars also include each barn’s rich history.  The 2013

Amy & David Dance Barn in Lake County.

calendar is nearly complete with extensive information on a working hay press barn.  The calendars sell for $16.00.  Visit Gwen’s web site for details.

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Secretariat’s Virginia Roots: The Meadow Farm Auctioned [Updated]

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in Barn Preservation, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Secretariat’s Virginia Roots: The Meadow Farm Auctioned [Updated]

Secretariat’s Foaling Shed has been relocated from the pasture behind the main house to the middle of the old racetrack, where it is preserved as an artifact for State Fair patrons to observe, near the new equine facilities.

Recently listed on Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic List of 2012, The Meadow Farm, was auctioned on May 22nd. Birthplace of the 1973 Triple Crown-winner Secretariat, the 331 acres that remains of The Meadow is situated within Caroline County, Virginia, just east of Interstate 95. Nearly 34 years after the Chenery family sold the farm, it is now threatened by the development pressures that accompany any property near an Interstate exit. But it is perhaps more at risk from those who do not know its rich, yet humble history.

The barns are currently located within the Virginia State Fairgrounds. According to reports in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and Tennessee-based Universal Fairs have formed a partnership, Commonwealth Fairs and Events. The future of the barns are unknown at this time; however, one of the stated focuses by this new partnership will be to highlight Virginia agriculture.

In 2006, The Meadow was determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (SHPO).  Although the main house was no longer standing at that time, it was determined that the historic significance of The Meadow as a notable twentieth-century breeding and training farm of Thoroughbred racehorses was clearly conveyed through the physical components that survived from the Chenerys’ tenure. In addition to establishing the Meadow Stable, Christopher Chenery was instrumental in the creation of the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the non-profit organization that continues to oversee the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct racetracks, and shaped horse racing on the East Coast for much of the twentieth century.

Extant historic features at The Meadow include a number of training, yearling, stallion and broodmare barns, as well as the foaling shed where Secretariat was born in 1970.  Other historic structures such as machine sheds, hay barns, secondary dwellings, garages, a pump house, and a horse cemetery also remain. But perhaps more telling, and less visible to the “urban” eye, are the various historic landscape features, including the path of the old racetrack, numerous paddocks and pastures, fences lines, farm roads, and field patterns—all of which continue to reflect The Meadow’s equine and historic agricultural use for the past 250 years.

Given the farm’s high-level of historic significance, our hope is the farm’s new owners will be sensitive to historic fabric that remains of Secretariat’s Meadow farm, and perhaps even restore some of Chenery’s design.

To read the original post on May 16, 2012, please click here.  

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Book Review: Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Barn Preservation, Books, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Book Review: Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement

Book review by Charles Leik, Chair of the National Barn Alliance.

It was at the National Barn Alliance’s (NBA) 2009 Shaker Hill, Kentucky conference that I first learned about the phenomenon of Quilt Barns. Several Kentucky ladies gave an enthusiastic presentation and the next day as I drove serpentine secondary roads northward to the Ohio River I saw perhaps a dozen of the “Real Deal” –8’ x 8’ squares of a favorite quilting pattern on weathered barns.

I already had an acquaintance with quilting as I recalled mother and her friends working at the quilting frame set up in our parlor in the early 1950s. The ladies seated around the frame chatted while with practiced skill made small, uniform stitches to sew the pattern to the batting.

In addition to this tenuous connection to quilts I have been long engaged in preservation of our heritage barns and anything that draws attention to these endangered structures and causes them to be maintained is a positive for me.

With this background I was pleased to learn that the Ohio University Press, Athens released in early 2012 a volume devoted to the history of the quilt barn movement.

The book printed on high quality paper with dozens of captioned photographs is everything that a lover of traditional folk culture could desire. Author Suzi Parron and barn quilt pioneer Donna Sue Groves take the reader to the origins of the Quilt Trails in Appalachia and then to other states, particularly those of the Heartland. There are individual chapters on Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan as well as chapters devoted to local events in which the author participated.

The reader meets the dozens of local heroines (and heroes) who organized the Trails in their communities. I was pleased that a photo of the quilt art on the owner’s barn accompanied the discussion of a pattern and its personal importance to the family.

Cindi Van Hurk, Michigan is representative of the many quilt trail pioneers in stating, “The Alcona County Quilt Trail Project has a very positive impact on our economy, while also fueling community pride within all areas of our county.”

This reviewer was happy to read the author’s conclusion that, “An unexpected benefit of the project has been the preservation of barns and other farm buildings.”

Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement is highly recommended for a quick education of this art genre and for aficionados of American vernacular architecture. Barn Quilts is a 240-page paperback at $29.95 by Swallow Press/Ohio State University. Order from University of Chicago Distribution Center, 11030 South Langley Ave., Chicago, IL 60628 or call 773.702.7000.

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Hidden in Plain Site: Side-Gabled Log Barn

Posted by on Apr 14, 2012 in Featured Barn, The Barn Journal | Comments Off on Hidden in Plain Site: Side-Gabled Log Barn

This is a guest post by Jeroen van den Hurk, Ph.D. He is an Architectural Historian based in North Carolina.

You never know what the lush climate of North Carolina hides until the dead of winter. While out of a drive on Sunday afternoon, I came across this abandoned side-gabled log barn in Halifax County, NC. This is an unusual building for eastern North Carolina. It was a one-story, double-pen or dogtrot structure used to store hay. It appeared to be an earthfast building with the log sill laid directly on the ground.  The logs were halved and saddle notched at the corners, and there was evidence of pegs near the center of the walls to keep the logs together.  The plate was hewn, and there was evidence of both cut nails and wire nails, suggesting that the barn was at least 100-years old.  The rafters may have been replaced at some point and the roof was clad in a standing-metal seam roof. One of the gable ends still had the original weatherboard siding, whereas the other gable end was covered with standing-seam metal.

Time, storms, and neglect had taken it’s toll, but it was still standing.


More photos of this barn:

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