Tobacco Barns Preservation Project

Posted on Aug 6, 2012

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.


Share this:

One Comment

  1. I have a 100 plus years barn that needs some repairs. It has never been used as a tobacco barn, but it has some boards missing and etc. Roof seem good. Can you make repairs or know of someone that can. Located in Brown County on State Rd 135, near Story, which is just outside Nashville, Indiana

    My name is Crystal Roscoe
    940 North St, Columbus, Indiana 47203

    Phone: 1 812 372 5896 cell: 1 812 344 0861