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10 Ways to Save Your Historic Barn

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These 10 tips will help you ensure the historic barn in your community continues its long life of service.

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10 Ways to Save Your Historic Barn

  1. 1. 10 Ways to SAVE YOUR HISTORIC BARN
  2. 2. 1. Learn about the structure’s significance. How important is the barn? Is it unusual? Is it an important representative of a type of barn? Perhaps an architectural or visual landmark? Check out our toolkit on researching your property’s history for more tips on how to uncover the barn’s story.
  3. 3. 2. Understand threats to the barn. Typical obstacles include safety concerns, financial issues, encroaching development, farm consolidation, and change of ownership. If the owner is unavailable, collect what info you can from neighbors and other likely sources.
  4. 4. 3. Gauge community support. What is the current support for the structure? Talking to the owner, assisting with repairs, finding a new owner, and providing expert consultations or financial assistance are some of the ways that community members can help save a barn.
  5. 5. 4. Find your fellow “barn people.” Public educational programs are a great way to connect with other folks interested in barn preservation. Programs can include local lecture series, hands-on workshops at barns that need repair, and barn tours.
  6. 6. 5. Connect with the National Barn Alliance. The National Barn Alliance is a nation-wide, nonprofit organization coordinating efforts to save America’s historic barns. It's a direct way to connect with barn enthusiasts around the country.
  7. 7. 6. Look into local preservation programs. Most will offer education and technical assistance, recognition programs, and, in some cases, financial assistance. Your state historic preservation office should be able to point you in the direction of a program working in your area.
  8. 8. 7. Analyze the structure’s viability. Barns are often demolished if they are vacant or under-used and if repair seems too expensive. Get an independent assessment of the barn's condition and to explore repair or reuse alternatives. New uses can include a switch in agricultural focus, commercial space, and public uses.
  9. 9. 8. Use appropriate preservation tools. Do any local regulations such as zoning or preservation regulations affect the current property or a future adaptive reuse? What financial or technical incentives exist that could help save the barn.
  10. 10. 9. Conduct a survey. Seek designation. Historic resource surveys help you document, record, and articulate the building’s significance. You can then use this information to push for historic designation and listing in local, state, or national registers. Such listings can, in turn, unlock regulatory and promotional perks and financial incentives.
  11. 11. 10. Get eyes on your project. Publicly identifying a barn as threatened, such as including it on an endangered list, can help draw attention to the issue. You can also attract coverage by inviting reporters to barn rehabilitation events for firsthand visuals and interviews. Another method is to pitch feature articles about an area’s unique barns to the local newspaper.
  12. 12. The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same in their own communities. For more information, visit Thomas Hawk/Flickr/CC BY NC-2.0; sahigg/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Elveret Barnes/Flickr/CC BY-SA-2.0; Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; James/Flickr/CC BY-NC-2.0; Phil Roussin/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND- 2.0; Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr/CC BY-2.0; Susan Stienstra/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Thomas/Flickr/CC BY-ND-2.0.