Appalachian Barn Alliance Story

A Little Background about our Project

Our Mission: to preserve the rural heritage of Madison County and surrounding areas through the documentation of the historical barn building traditions and the barns they represent.

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.

The ABA is registered to solicit donations in the state of NC. “Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 888‐830‐4989. The license is not an endorsement by the State”. Contact us for information about other states.


  • Wishing you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season as we enjoy time off from events for these next few busy weeks with family and friends.

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, Walnut and Mars Hill 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)
  • Continued documentation of the next township with help from a $6,000 grant from the Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (received July 2016)
  • Continued documentation of the next township with help from a $5,000 grant from the Richard J. Reynolds, III and Marie M Reynolds Foundation (received October 2017)

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 driving barn tours as visitors and residents alike learn more about Madison County’s rich agricultural traditions
  • Working toward establishing a Heritage Farmstead showcasing barns and barn building history

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 and online magazine in the 2016 issues
  • Annual Fall county-wide Historic Barn Photo Contest open to all ages from 2012 through 2017. Now an integral component of the County Fair’s Photography category
  • Information Booths at events throughout the year: Bluff Mountain Festival in June and at the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival in October
  • Fundraising Concerts: 2012 with Josh Goforth and Laura Boosinger; 2013 with Balsam Range at the Arts Center; 2014 with Joe Penland and Laura Boosinger; 2015 with Susi Gott & Marty Lewis plus Matthew Curry & the Carolina Two; 2016 and 2017 with Brian Gurl
  • Annual Barn Day with Researcher-led barn tours, dinner and silent auction. First Annual Barn Day was held in 2014
  • Annual Farm to Table Dinner at the Farmers’ Hands in Mars Hill. First one was held in 2016.

How You Can Help

  • Join our efforts. Email us at or call (828) 380-9066
  • Become a member ($20 for Individual, $30 for Family, $50 for Friend, $100 for Backer (or Business Supporter), $200 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 & Appalachian Butter Knives made from Tobacco Sticks FOR SALE

Currently this project is partially funded by a grant from the Richard J Reynolds III and Marie M Reynolds Foundation.