Appalachian Barn Alliance Story

A Little Background about our Project

Madison County, North Carolina, has a rich agricultural history. The county’s place in the production of burley tobacco is well known, but there are other ways to explore and record our agricultural history. One of the most interesting ways to do this is to tell the stories of the barns and outbuildings scattered throughout the county. Learn more about the beginning of our organization and the people who are working to save this history.


  • Through October 15:  “With These Hands” photography exhibit.  This time the photographs of barns by Don McGowan & Bonnie Cooper will be on display from July 15 through October 15 at the Westgate location of the Green Sage Cafe. For more information, see EXHIBIT
  • Tuesday, September 20 at 4:30pm:  Deadline for submittal of photos for the Historic Barns Photo Contest.  Information at PHOTO CONTEST
  • Saturday, October 1 from 10am to 4pm: Visit the Appalachian Barn Alliance Booth at the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival on the Mars Hill University campus quad

Listen to an interview (from wART streaming radio) with Taylor Barnhill about HIstoric Barns

Listen to an interview (from wART streaming radio) with Taylor Barnhill about the Tobacco Barns

What We are Working on:

  • Completed the Beech Glen, Laurel, Spring Creek, and Walnut townships for archival information and self-guided driving tour brochures
  • Continued research of the most historically and architecturally significant barns throughout the whole County for upcoming brochures
  • Focused on the next township for its archival information and a self-guided driving tour
  • Continued our documentation of the barns with help from a $10,000 grant from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation (received in November 2013)
  • Completed a searchable database of the information collected with help from a $5,000 grant from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation (received in November 2014)
  • Continued documentation of the next township with help from a $7,000 grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Foundation (received March 2015)

Our Goals

  • Finding barns and their owners to record the history of the use
  • Applying for grants to help in this process
  • Raising money for the matching funds for grants
  • Creating a website with the information accessible to all
  • Generating self-guided tours through our beautiful roads as visitors and residents alike learn more about Madison County’s rich agricultural traditions.

Current Projects

  • Historic Barn Series in the local newspaper The News Record and Sentinel with stories about historic barns in our first few years. A feature in Plough to Pantry magazine beginning with the Spring 2016 issue.
  • An annual county-wide Historic Barn Photo Contest open to all ages.
  • Information Booths at events throughout the year: Bluff Mountain Festival in June and at the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival in October
  • Fundraising Concerts: In 2012 with Josh Goforth and Laura Boosinger. In 2013 with Balsam Range at the Arts Center. In 2014 with Joe Penland and Laura Boosinger. In 2015 with Susi Gott & Marty Lewis plus Matthew Curry & the Carolina Two, 2016 with Brian Gurl
  • Annual Barn Day with Researcher-led barn tours. Inaugural one held in 2014
  • An annual Farm to Table Dinner at the Farmers’ Hands

How You Can Help

  • Join our efforts. Email us at or call (828) 380-9066
  • Become a member ($20 for individual, $30 for family, $100 for Supporter, $250 for Benefactor, $500 for Patron, and $1000 for President’s Circle) by mailing your check with your address and email information to ABA, PO Box 1441, Mars Hill, NC 28754
  • Make a contribution to the Appalachian Barn Alliance (Mail to PO Box 1441, Mars Hill, NC 28754)
  • Provide us with information about your historic barn in Madison County. Email
  • or call (828) 380-9066

Cutting Boards & Napkin Rings made from Tobacco Sticks FOR SALE

This project is partially funded by a grant from the Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Natl Trust logo