If you have ever wondered about the stories of hauntingly beautiful old barns you see all over our region, this month you will have a chance to learn more about them from someone who has devoted a lot of time and energy to uncovering their mysteries. The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County (PSABC) will present Taylor Barnhill of the Appalachian Barn Alliance on Saturday, April 29, at 10:30 a.m. at Eliada Home.
“Much of this work is akin to archaeology: uncovering evidence of barn building traditions that are long lost to memory, and to oral tradition,” says Barnhill, an architect and local historian. “Take, for example, 19th century livestock barns built using timber-frame methods, with mortise and tenon joinery, practices thought to be limited to more northern regions.”
Barnhill is the lead historic and architectural researcher for the Appalachian Barn Alliance (ABA) based in Madison County, which records and documents the history of barns in our region. Barnhill will shed light on some of ABA’s work and show how a barn’s architecture, while driven mostly by function, is often a beautiful storehouse of regional culture. So that barns could serve generations of family farmers, they were often preserved and repurposed.
“Ask anyone you meet about barns in the mountains, and they will tell you about burley tobacco barns,” Barnhill says. “Yet, there are the remnants of the earlier bright leaf, flue-cured tobacco barns hidden up many hollows. Flue-cured tobacco was introduced in 1870 as a Civil War reconstruction stimulus program, and it pre-dated burley tobacco by 50 years. These are the artifacts being brought into the light.”
Barnhill’s program includes a tour of the traditional Amish barn on the Eliada Home campus, a large dairy barn that burned in 1927 and was rebuilt by Pennsylvania Amish who traveled here for the reconstruction. Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes to enjoy this walking tour and learn how this special barn now serves Eliada’s mission. The
PSABC is a nonprofit organization that aims to sustain the heritage and sense of place in Asheville and Buncombe County through preservation and promotion of the unique historic resources of the region.
Eliada Home is located at 2 Compton Drive, Asheville. While admission is free, a $10 donation helps support local preservation. Generous sponsors of this talk include Eliada Home. Learn more at psabc.org and appalachianbarns.org.