It's time for an update on what is going on with my Barns of Shenandoah project and work with the Shenandoah County Historical Society. First off, there have been sales from two shows and direct from my studio, which made it possible to present two checks to the Shenandoah County Historical Society's Barn Program for a total of $1,657.10! So far, eleven paintings have sold, and the amount donated represents 20% of my proceeds. So a big thank you to all who have supported me and this effort to raise awareness and funds to support the barns of Shenandoah County!
The other excellent news is we got the nomination for one of Virginia's Most Endangered Places from Preservation Virginia, the oldest statewide preservation organization in the country! It was hard to keep this news a secret for a couple weeks. Finally, on Tuesday, May 8, the exciting day came, and representatives from Preservation Virginia traveled here to make one of two on-site announcements of the list of ten nominated places. We are so grateful to this venerable organization from shining a light on our historic barns! This event should be a great shove to get the boulder rolling towards eventual fundraising and hopefully real assistance for barn owners.
It has been gratifying to possibly make a lasting difference in the future, cultural landscape of our valley home. The Shenandoah Valley is so unique in regards to barn architecture and number of surviving, historic barns. We estimate there may be over 1000 traditional barns still standing, dating from the late 1700's up to the 1950's. Many, many barns date to right after the Civil War, making them around 150 years old. And we are finding more and more log barns in out of the way places, and also covered by siding, than we thought existed. Chances are good that a log barn will be at least 200 years old, and a handful are considered or documented as from pre-revolutionary war years!
I am asking folks to consider this question: Is the continued existence of old barns in Shenandoah County is important to you? The barns of Shenandoah County are a symbol of our cultural heritage: hard work, independence, and enterprise. They contribute to the unique, visual identity of our rural landscape, an intangible yet powerful testimony to the families that lived and died while establishing Shenandoah County. They also speak to "from whence we came", through the unique Swiss and Germanic architecture that exists only here and areas in Pennsylvania where the early settlers first lived.
We are losing barns constantly; they are slowly returning to nature. Do we want this to happen? If not, the problem needs to be addressed. Please think about contributing to the Shenandoah County Historical Society's Barn Fund. We are looking for small, regular donations, legacy giving, and corporate philanthropy. If everyone in Shenandoah County gave just $3 per year, that would mean one barn could be completely restored every year! (About $130,000. Of course, many barns would require much less than that to be stabilized for the next 75 years or so.)
We are also looking for grant opportunities and qualified craftspeople to work on barns. And John Adamson of the Historical Society is currently working on a large scale survey. His goal is to eventually document ALL of the barns in Shenandoah County.
Above all, please spread the word! Let's decide what we want to do about our barns.
- Please visit the Shenandoah County Historical Society's website and click on the barns brochure link (on the right hand side) for more information about the Barn Program.
- To make a donation, mail a check to Shenandoah County Historical Society, PO Box 506, Woodstock, VA 22664, and write "Barn Program" in the memo.
- To have your barn surveyed, please email John Adamson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 540-975-2240.
- Please view my latest Barns of Shenandoah paintings below and photos from the announcement.