NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL RESOURCES
OFFICE OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY

STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
4617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-4617

Preserving Old Tobacco Barns

Please Note: With extremely rare exceptions (described below) there are no grants or other financial assistance for private restorations of tobacco barns. Staff of the Restoration Services Branch of the State Historic Preservation Office provides consultations on a time-available basis to owners of all types of historic properties and may be able to recommend conservation treatments and make referrals to qualified contractors. To identify the restoration specialist who serves your area of the state, see http://www.hpo.ncdcr.gov/rebranch.htm.

Adaptive uses for old tobacco barns. Here, an Alamance County landowner has converted an old tobacco barn into a workshop, with a patio under the shed and a garden surrounding the building.
All across the state's tobacco growing regions, farmers and landowners have modified old tobacco barns for garages or for storage of other equipment or materials, and some have found even more creative uses for the old barns. Others preserve the barns simply out of respect for a long family tradition.

The Staley family of Level Cross (Randolph County) has converted this old log tobacco barn into a cozy stained glass and pottery workshop, which is also the favored hideaway for the family cat.

Charles and Wanda Brintle of Yadkin County restored an old log tobacco barn on their property to provide an ideal place to display a colorful hand-painted quilt square. The barn had fallen into disrepair and it was necessary to rebuild the roof and porch and to replace rotten logs in places. They reused the old roof tin that was salvageable, with additional material taken from an old shed nearby. The result is a beautifully preserved traditional tobacco barn characteristic of the Old Bright Belt in the northwestern Piedmont.


Who preserves tobacco barns?

A few tobacco barns are being preserved in public and private museums and parks such as the Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham, the Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly, Horne Creek Living History Farm in Surry County, and Northeast Park in Guilford County. Except for these rare examples, virtually all of the tobacco barns in the state are privately owned.

Are there grants that can help?

There are no public or private grant programs to assist the preservation of privately owned tobacco barns. A limited exception is a tobacco barn mini-grant program sponsored by Preservation Virginia and funded by a private tobacco company, with candidates limited to barns in Halifax and Pittsylvania County in Virginia and Caswell County, NC, described here.

How about preservation tax credits?

A small number of barns on historic farms listed in the National Register of Historic Places might be eligible for federal and state rehabilitation income tax credits.  So far, only two tobacco barns in North Carolina have been restored using tax credits, both located on a farm in Caswell County that is listed in the National Register. That project is described here.

Note to Contractors:  If you have experience and interest in working on tobacco barns, contact the Restoration Services Branch (link at top of page) to be considered for referrals to property owners.

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