With the help of our friends and supporters, we may have solved the mystery of the 1701 barn at Bacon’s Castle! In 2018 Preservation Virginia listed Shenandoah Valley Barns to our Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places list. Taking a cue from Preservation Virginia’s tobacco barns program, John Adamson and the Shenandoah County Historical Society are surveying barns and getting people excited about what they have. Since the listing, the Shenandoah Valley Historical Society surveyed and mapped over 250 historic barns. In response to our article about the 1701 barn at Bacon’s Castle, John sent us this wonderful evaluation of what he thinks the barn was used for- a granary. From John:
My reaction is that the building is a granary. It has many features of the built in granaries I find in the historic barns of Shenandoah County. There are also detached granary outbuildings here and they are usually pretty small – like the one at Bacon’s Castle.
1. Small size (not big enough for animals or storage of hay or other fodder)
2. Tightly enclosed space – wood floor, tight fitting siding. This is typical of a granary, an attempt to keep out vermin.
3. Stroke marks! I find this type of marking over and over in the granaries in Shenandoah County (usually in pencil, but sometimes scratched). In fact, now when I go into a barn to survey it, I always look for graffiti in the granary. Stroke marks, pencil notation of bushels of wheat, oats, barley, etc. I often find dates and names of the farmer or the thresher, etc. In a perfect world I could compile this information and learn about how big the harvests were, when each type of grain was processed and even which grains were most in favor over time. Of course, in Shenandoah County, this is 19th and 20th century agriculture as so few barns survive from the 18th century.
I have now surveyed over 250 historic Shenandoah County barns. The barns map on the Shenandoah County website is up to date with every barn posted. Check out our website and you will also find the brand new Spring 2020 newsletter: https://schs1795.com/
Best from Strasburg,
Thank you, John! For more information about the Shenandoah Valley Historical Society and their work, check out their website: