Have you been to the farm lately? What’s going on with the Tobacco Barn?
If you have walked around the National Colonial Farm lately–perhaps during last weekend’s Children’s Day–you may have noticed something a little off. The tobacco barn is looking a little less than colonial lately as it gets a bit of a face lift–or a “sill” lift if you will.
The tobacco barn, like most 18th century buildings I’m sure, has endured its fair share of wear and tear. This is not the first time the barn has had to be repaired and it certainly will not be the last. This time, it seems the old sill has rotted through and the beam that is being taken out–a replacement itself–due to weather over time, needs to be replaced again. The replacement sill is being installed through an intricate process requiring the whole barn to be lifted up off of the old sill while the new one is carefully put in its place. If this was an issue back in the 1770s, barn owners would just have built a new barn rather than replaced a beam. They did not have the tools or technology to lift the whole barn to replace this one piece. Oh, the modern ways of historic preservation.
The repair work is being done by our good friend, Jeff Thompson from Colonial Woodwrights, a preservation consultant company in Aquasco, Maryland. Jeff and his team won a Historic Preservation Award in 2010 for their work on the Mackall Barn at Historic St. Mary’s City. The project is being overseen by our own National Colonial Farm manager, Matt Mattingly, who invites everyone to come by and see this exciting project in action.
This restoration could not come at a better time. Not only is the sill in dire need of replacing, but this gives us a reason to praise the fact that it is Historic Preservation Month! The National Trust for Historic Preservation has dubbed May the month to go out and explore America’s hidden gems. This month we encourage everyone to visit, support, and learn about the historic sites in your area–they are the greatest link to our past and culture as Americans.
Historic preservation has been a cornerstone of the Accokeek Foundation’s mission since its founding over 50 years ago. Francis Bolton, Robert Ware Strauss, Henry Ferguson, and Charles Wagner saw a need to preserve this land and George Washington’s view. They did so partly by engaging the surrounding community to get involved in learning the importance of preserving history for a better future.
This vision continues here this summer. Not only is the Tobacco Barn being restored, but thanks to a generous grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution our beloved Laurel Branch house will also be getting a midsummer make over. The clapboards on the exterior southside of the house, as well as some surrounding fencing will be replaced. It will be an exciting summer for the Accokeek Foundation and for preserving the history of Southern Maryland.
Discover the hidden gems in your community and Happy Historic Preservation Month!