Throughout much of the southern United States, hillsides are sporadically pimpled with relics of an age long gone: the tobacco barn. Once serving as both a working tobacco curing facility and a predecessor to the modern billboard, tobacco barns were plentiful in their heyday. In the modern world, farming is on a decline and the knowledge of the dangers of tobacco use is rising; a double-whammy for tobacco barns.
In the state of Maryland, tobacco barns are an endangered species. In 2001, the state bought out thousands of tobacco barns in an effort to discourage the growing and curing of tobacco. In 2004, Maryland passed a law that officially made the barns “endangered.” Although tobacco is known to be harmful, the barns are an important historical landmark found only in this part of the U.S. Many of the barns were torn down after the state bought them out but a couple hundred still exist, abandoned and awaiting their fate.
After sitting idly for years, the state has finally come up with a plan for the barns that preserves their historical aesthetic, discourages tobacco farming and allows for a unique housing opportunity. The idea is to remodel the barns in a way that maintains their original character while incorporating some modern day flare. The “Re-Barn’ initiative adds shutters, windows and other modern design appeal to the bones of the existing barn. The result is a multi-bedroom home with all the modern conveniences of a new house and the old charm of a 100-year-old barn. In some cases, the barns could also still function as a working farm, provided that the inhabitants aren’t farming tobacco in any way.
Preservation meets progress. Nice work, Maryland, nice work.