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JTI grants $100,000 to preserve aging tobacco barns in county

Japan Tobacco International will provide $100,000 in mini-grants to rehabilitate aging and weathered tobacco barns as part of Preservation Virginia’s tobacco barn preservation project that began last year, Genevieve Keller, vice president of Preservation Virginia, announced Tuesday morning in Chatham.

The money, a one-year commitment that may be extended, will go to repair and stabilize tobacco barns in Halifax, Pittsylvania and Caswell counties.

Barn owners will be able to apply for money to repair their old structures, according to Halifax County Historical Society President Barbara Bass, who was on hand for the Tuesday morning announcement.

Grant workshops will be held in October and November, and applications are due by Jan. 15.

Eligible barns must be tobacco curing or “pack” barns or barns that are proven to have served in some capacity during the processing of tobacco and must be at least 50 years old or of historical and/or architectural significance.

Grant funds will be awarded to barns that possess enough integrity so that any work undertaken can be completed in a quality manner.

The grants will cover exterior improvements only such as roofs, foundations and logs or other siding repair or replacement.

Preservation Virginia began the Tobacco Barns Preservation Project in 2012 with the goals of raising awareness of the unique and irreplaceable rural and agricultural heritage of the tobacco-growing region and to help preserve and protect as many of the area’s historic tobacco barns as possible.

A recently conducted survey revealed over 1,000 tobacco barns are still standing in Pittsylvania County alone, the majority of which need repair work.

If no action is taken soon, these irreplaceable historic assets will be lost, according to Sonja Ingram, field representative for Preservation Virginia. 

For more information, contact Ingram at 434-770-1209.