Shenandoah County Historic Barns Program

The Shenandoah Historic Barns Program is an organization founded by Sally Veach and The Shenandoah County Historical Society. Our mission is to raise awareness of our county’s endangered, historic barns and promote their preservation. We meet regularly at the Shenandoah County Historic Courthouse in Woodstock, VA. Please join us if you are interested in helping with this long term project by clicking on the Volunteer button below.

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Thank you to Hekyung Parkbarr for the video featured in this presentation!

Barn News

Join us for an Afternoon of Barns and Awarness of our AgriHeritage at Swover Creek Brewery on March 31, 2-5 pm

For this event only, I will donate 50% of the sale of each artwork to the Historical Society’s barn program! If you’ve been thinking about acquiring a barn painting and care about what happens to our barns, this event will be the time you can make the most impact! 50% donation will take place during the event only. I hope to create some new, smaller works specifically for this event! Keep me in your thoughts, and we’ll see what I come up with! So excited about the Hay Bale Circle! (see below)

From Swover Creek’s announcement: “John Adamson will speak about Historic Barns of Shenandoah County. Artist Sally Veach will have some of her barn painting on display and for sale. We will have Historical Trivia with Zach Hottel the Archivist for Shen. Co. library. Also, hay bale circle - barn experiences story telling. Swover Creek Farms will donate $1.00 for every pizza sold on March 31. Come out and support our heritage.

For more info on the historic barns program, phone 540/975-2240 or www.shenandoahcountyhistoricalsociety.org or FB@SCHSVA

Barn Talk by John Adamson of the Shenandoah County Historical Society

Wednesday, February 20th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Charterhouse School, Edinburg, VA

The History of Shenandoah County Barns will be presented by John Adamson in a program sponsored by the Shenandoah County Parks & Recreation Dept. The event will take place at the Charterhouse School (Old Edinburg High School) at 508 Piccadilly Street in Edinburg VA. Mr. Adamson is the manager of the Barns Project of the Shenandoah County Historical Society. Well over 100 barns have been visited and surveyed to date. Seating space is limited, so interested parties are asked to call 459-6777 to reserve a seat.

Barn Meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2, 7:00 PM, Historic Shenandoah County Courthouse, Woodstock, VA

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Please read this invitational letter from John Adamson of the Shenandoah County Historical Society


Preservation Virginia Nomination

The Historic Barns of the Shenandoah Valley were nominated for Preservation Virginia's 2018 list of Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Places!  Sally Veach and John Adamson of the Shenandoah County Historical Society were interviewed by local papers and TV station. Read press here.  Watch video here.


Returning to Nature.  Without intervention, ALL of the historic barns in Shenandoah County will no longer be standing.

Returning to Nature. Without intervention, ALL of the historic barns in Shenandoah County will no longer be standing.

Our old barns have outlived their usefulness.  Originally purposed for the storage of loose hay, then later for rectangular bales, historic barns no longer serve a compelling purpose in agriculture. Hay is now harvested in large rolls, and stored in plastic sleeves in the field. Our majestic barns are on a path of slow demise.

Our old barns have outlived their usefulness. Originally purposed for the storage of loose hay, then later for rectangular bales, historic barns no longer serve a compelling purpose in agriculture. Hay is now harvested in large rolls, and stored in plastic sleeves in the field. Our majestic barns are on a path of slow demise.

This weathered evidence  of humans' past struggles signify the care and keeping of small family groups. It is a reminder of the perseverance of spirit and our toiling for subsistence and enterprise. What struggles transpired here?

This weathered evidence of humans' past struggles signify the care and keeping of small family groups. It is a reminder of the perseverance of spirit and our toiling for subsistence and enterprise. What struggles transpired here?

The ubiquitous barns  that dot the countryside of Shenandoah County are easy to take for granted. But their future is certainly uncertain and they are endangered. Old barns present a hardship for farm owners; they are a challenge to keep standing when their purpose is obsolete. Without financial assistance for owners of barns, the hard choice will be made to let nature reclaim them, tear them down before they become a safety hazard, and/or sell the materials for use in new, rustic structures.

The ubiquitous barns that dot the countryside of Shenandoah County are easy to take for granted. But their future is certainly uncertain and they are endangered. Old barns present a hardship for farm owners; they are a challenge to keep standing when their purpose is obsolete. Without financial assistance for owners of barns, the hard choice will be made to let nature reclaim them, tear them down before they become a safety hazard, and/or sell the materials for use in new, rustic structures.

Shenandoah County Traditional Barns Project

"Humans: Apart and A Part of Nature"

Through my practice as an interpretive painter of Shenandoah County landscapes, I have become increasingly aware to our residents’ interaction with nature. I am interested in the fact that as humans, we are a part of nature but also distinctly apart from it. And there is a point where our human endeavors intersect with the natural world.

A second and developing interest is the correlation between the earliest immigrants to Virginia and the immigration of today. The first immigrants to settle in Virginia came from Germany in 1714, according to Virginia.org. By the 1740’s they were settling in the Shenandoah Valley and building log dwellings and barns. They were fleeing religious and political persecution. The Hispanic and Middle Eastern migrants of today are also fleeing persecution. Immigrants of past and present are looking for a better life.

The Shenandoah County Historical Society has identified at least one log barn dating from before the Revolutionary War, probably built by second wave Germanic immigrants. It is still standing and in good condition. What a treasure! Shenandoah County enjoys the evidence of German immigration through family names such as Gochenour, Clinedinst, and Funkhouser, and the iconic bank barns that generously dot our countryside. Shenandoah County residents are proud of their German ancestry. Why? It is We as opposed to Them.

A new project is brewing so stay tuned. I believe human migration is like water— we flow, and establish new lakes, rivers, and dams too. The DNA of people in places is constantly changing. Each introduction contributes to the complexity and resilience of mankind.

But back to the intersection of people and nature. This concept is symbolized to me in our historic and decaying barns. Perhaps it is easy to make the connection here because these barns are in a state of slow demise.  The weathered wood, textured stone, and off kilter stance have character and draw people in.  They provide a romantic experience of a time-gone-by, with all the richness of human struggle and perseverance, survival, and the care of our small family groups. But for all of their charm, there is a sinister element looming.

Our traditional barns are slowly deteriorating and one day most will be lost forever.  Modern barns are not constructed the same way--they serve a different purpose--and the traditional, family barn has become obsolete. Some day in the future, these beloved barns that have been with us for centuries will no longer exist.  My endeavor is to raise awareness of the rich history of these barns, and possibly raise funds for their preservation.

In the very least, the project will serve as a celebration of Shenandoah County, its history and its people, and by extension the entire Shenandoah Valley.  Honoring the old barns is a way to enrich the lives of our citizens, providing a meaningful reminder of the inherent value of our people and place. 

If you or someone you know would like to be involved in this project, please contact me at sally@sallyveach.com or the Shenandoah County Historical Society.  To follow along with my project and other art news, please sign up for my newsletter here. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sally Veach, Artist



The  scenic location  of a Pre-Civil War barn near Strasburg, VA in Shenandoah County, Virginia

The scenic location of a Pre-Civil War barn near Strasburg, VA in Shenandoah County, Virginia

A wealth of history  is hidden in the barns of Shenandoah County. Here, the utility of yesterday and today in storage.

A wealth of history is hidden in the barns of Shenandoah County. Here, the utility of yesterday and today in storage.

One of  two early, Germanic brick barns  that survived the burning of the Shenandoah Valley by General Sheridan during the Civil War.

One of two early, Germanic brick barns that survived the burning of the Shenandoah Valley by General Sheridan during the Civil War.