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Tobacco Barns

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Tobacco Barns



For centuries, wood-frame tobacco barns have dotted the rolling fields of Southern Maryland.  Their shapes define the character of the landscape in Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's Counties.  Once essential to the process of air-curing tobacco, a mainstay crop of Maryland's agriculture since the 17th century, tobacco barns are a lasting symbol of the rural heritage of Southern Maryland.


Today, historic tobacco barns are being lost at an alarming rate as Southern Maryland's agricultural land is consumed by the rapidly growing Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  Adding to the development pressure from residential sprawl has been an unintended consequence of Maryland's 2001 "tobacco buyout" state policy, which encourages farmers to stop cultivating tobacco.  Thousands of acres of agricultural land and scores of tobacco barns have lost their economic usefulness and stand unused and deteriorating.

In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Tobacco Barns of Southern Maryland to its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. As a result of this listing, a coalition of representatives from the National Trust, the Maryland Historical Trust, the Southern Maryland Heritage Areas Consortium, and Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George's and St. Mary's counties was formed to support barn owners in their efforts to preserve, rehabilitate, and reuse these significant landmarks that are now often abandoned and deteriorating due to the significant decline in tobacco cultivation. To learn more about tobacco barns and the threats that they face, click here to read the "State of the Southern Maryland Tobacco Barns report."


The Southern Maryland Tobacco Barns Preservation Initiative is a collaboration of Preservation Maryland, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Maryland Historical Trust, County governments, heritage tourism organizations, and farm organizations to preserve tobacco barns across the five-county region. The initiative, administered by Preservation Maryland, comprehensively addresses the threats facing tobacco barns through funding, public policy, outreach and education, survey and information sharing.


Among the accomplishments of the Initiative was the securing of a $200,000 Save America’s Treasures grant which funded tobacco barn restoration projects throughout the five counties of Southern Maryland. A total of thirty four (34) barn restoration projects were funded, with total project costs exceeding $ 500,000.00. Tobacco Barn Restoration Fund/Save America's Treasures Grant

Also, a $30,000.000 award from the Maryland Historical Trust Non-Capital Historic Preservation Grant Program was approved for the completion of a contextual study of Southern Maryland Tobacco Barns that resulted in the submission of a National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Nomination Form. Tobacco Barns National Register Nomination

These and other successes of the initiative were highlighted at the Southern Maryland Tobacco Barn Summit held in April 2010. The event showcased an update on the efforts of the initiative, including the presentation of the architectural history of tobacco barns, adaptive reuse and preservation success stories, results of break out sessions and barn resources.

For a list of contractors who may be interested in working on Tobacco Barns, please click here: Tobacco Barn Contractor List

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