Tobacco Barn Preservation Project

Historic tobacco barns have been an iconic part of Southside Virginia’s landscape. Sadly, they have been disappearing for years. To raise awareness about the threats to historic tobacco barns, we included them on our 2009 Most Endangered Historic Places list. An outpouring of interest and support from the region led to the first phase of our Tobacco Barn Preservation Project, which included the following components:

  • Architectural survey of tobacco barns
  • Public workshops on barn repair
  • Oral history project to record stories about tobacco farmers
  • Middle school poster contest

In 2013, we began a partnership with JTI Leaf Services in Danville to provide mini-grants for historic tobacco barns in Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties in Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina. The grants have allowed property owners the opportunity to receive funding for the rehabilitation of their barns in a manner authentic with the original architectural style.

The 2018 grant cycle will focus on repairing six new barns and the completion of any remaining barns from previous years.

Bray Tobacco Barn Before & After

Apply for the 2019 Mini-Grants Program

The 2019 grant program will be different from previous years. Rather than repairing up to 15 barns, the funds will go toward the restoration of three historically and architecturally significant tobacco barns that require more attention. Funds will also go toward the creation of a driving trail that will link repaired barns to other historic sites in the region. The trail will incorporate both paper maps and an interactive, web-based map.

In order to be eligible for a 2019 grant, barns must be located in Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties in Virginia or Caswell County, North Carolina. They must also be able to be viewed from a public right-of-way and at least 50-years-old. Barn owners who submitted applications in previous years and who wish to reapply for 2019, must submit a 2019 application.

Click here to download a 2019 grant application. Applications must be submitted to Sonja Ingram at by February 15, 2019.

Program Success

The mini-grants program has merited regional and national accolades including a Virginia Association of Counties Achievement Award and a Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State and Local History. In 2015, it was listed as one of Garden and Gun Magazine’s, “50 Reasons We Love the South Now.”

At the conclusion of 2018 grant cycle, the mini-grants program will have repaired over 60 tobacco barns in the Southside region. All of the barns repaired are unique resources that afford some type of public benefit and help to grow a local identity and distinctiveness by connecting residents to their past. Each year, the program also facilitates the creation of at least 10 jobs and has the potential to be a powerful economic engine by growing the heritage tourism appeal of the area. Heritage tourism is one of the strongest industries in Virginia bringing in over 20 billion dollars annually and supporting over 200,000 jobs in the state each year.

"Tobacco Barns, Preserving History in the Old Belt" Available for Purchase!

Tobacco Barns, Preserving History in the Old Belt

“Tobacco Barns, Preserving History in the Old Belt” illustrates the JTI/Preservation Virginia Tobacco Barns Mini-Grants Project, a 5-year project that has repaired over sixty historic tobacco barns in a three-county region of Virginia and North Carolina. All of the barns are represented in the book along with brief descriptions of their history and information on the repairs completed.


Preservation Virginia members: $56.85 + shipping
Non-members: $63.18 + shipping

If you are interested in purchasing a book, please email Katherine Driggs at