Group fights to save tobacco barns
In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Southern Maryland tobacco barns as the 11th most endangered historic properties in the nation. The Maryland preservation community held a tobacco barns summit in 2004 to study the situation and develop an action plan. A Southern Maryland Tobacco Barns coalition was formed at that meeting specifically to work on barn preservation issues.
On April 30, the Tom Wisner Hall at King's Landing Park hosted Maryland's preservation elite at the second Southern Maryland Tobacco Barn Summit, the Calvert Recorder reports. Staff from state agencies, Preservation Maryland, the Maryland Historical Trust, members of the local county historical commissions, county and state politicians and interested members of the general public met to hear what actions must be taken to preserve tobacco barns in Calvert, St. Mary's, Charles and Prince George's counties.
"Barns are utilitarian, working structures — they weren't built to last," said J. Rodney Little, director of the Maryland Historical Trust and the State Historic Preservation officer. "The barns weren't built for aesthetics, as were many historic residences. It's not an easy task to preserve these barns. There's the pressure of development coming from Washington, D.C. The traditional character of Southern Maryland is disappearing. Most of these [surviving] barns are owned by working farmers, and won't be saved when they're no longer of use to the farmers."
Little applauded the work of theTobacco Barns coalition and the other preservation groups and agencies. An important component of this preservation effort is to develop strategies for raising funds to preserve these barns. National recognition of the importance of Southern Maryland tobacco barns would help to leverage grant support from federal programs as well as grants and gifts from corporate and private donors.
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