Tobacco warehouses are a critical part of the heritage of tobacco agriculture in Southern Maryland. They are threatened, however, by a lack of recognition, obsolescence, underuse and the unique challenges of adaptive reuse of historic warehouses.
Preservation Maryland will support the adaptive reuse of this significant site and assist with crafting appropriate architectural upgrades as well as helping to recruit prospective tenants. The goal is to adaptively reuse these historic building in a manner that honors its agricultural heritage and supports sustainable agriculture into the future.
The village of Hughesville is significant for its concentration of mid-twentieth century commercial and industrial buildings, including a notable row of tobacco warehouses. The opening of loose-leaf tobacco auctions in 1939 spurred rapid development in the village, and within a decade the north end of Hughesville along Old Leonardtown Road and east of the railroad tracks was lined with warehouses and packing plants. During each selling season, typically spanning four months, farmers and buyers would flood the district. The loose-leaf market thrived during the middle decades of the twentieth century, but sales waned as tobacco production declined at the end of the century. The tobacco auction houses and warehouses in Hughesville are some of the last remaining physical structures associated with Maryland’s rich and momentous tobacco industry and remain the best cohesive collection of structures related to tobacco sales, storage, and processing in the state.
With the last auction held in 2006, many of the warehouses sit vacant while others have been repurposed. They are threatened by a lack of recognition, obsolescence, underuse and the unique challenges of adaptive reuse of historic warehouses. Hughesville overall but, especially the warehouses’ corridor, faces two options as it transforms in the twenty-first century: Demolition of the existing buildings and replacement with a contemporary suburban design or careful redevelopment that honors its agricultural legacy and inspires reuse in unique and interesting ways.
The Six-to-Fix program allows Preservation Maryland to take direct action to fulfill its mission to protect the best of Maryland. Your donation helps provide technical assistance through Preservation Maryland staff and preservation experts to threatened and underutilized historic places – your donation has a direct impact on saving Maryland architecture and history.Donate Now
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