Virginia preservation group names Shenandoah Valley barns in annual endangered historic places list

WOODSTOCK — A historical preservation nonprofit organization out of Richmond has placed Shenandoah Valley barns on a list of 11 “most endangered historic places” in Virginia.

In a news conference Tuesday outside a barn at 716 W. North St. in Woodstock, Justin Sarafin, the director of preservation initiatives and engagement for Preservation Virginia, described the region’s barns as “a striking symbol of the rural landscapes throughout the commonwealth.”

“They particularly symbolize the Shenandoah Valley’s historic rural agricultural landscape along the 81 corridor, a landscape that is being lost at an alarming rate due to economic shifts and development pressures,” Sarafin said.

Sarafin said that Preservation Virginia has presented a list of the most endangered historic places in Virginia every year since 2005.

The group compiles that list based on nominations it receives from various groups throughout the state.

“We’re relying on people more locally to be recognizing what’s significant to them and what might be threatened,” Sarafin said.

Barbara Adamson, the president of the Shenandoah County Historical Society, said that the historical society decided to nominate Shenandoah Valley barns for the list because of a project John Adamson launched to survey barns.

“As a historical society, our mission is to encourage the preservation of all historic buildings, if possible,” Barbara Adamson said. “When the idea for surveying barns came up and bringing attention to them and the threats to them, the historical society board jumped at the change. We think it’s a great idea.”

John Adamson, meanwhile, said that he hoped to see more documentation about barns in the Shenandoah Valley, even if historical groups aren’t able to preserve the buildings.

“If we can’t save [the barns] physically, I would like them to be preserved in photographs (and) in descriptions,” John Adamson said. “And so, we’re doing that.”

Sarafin said that Preservation Virginia wants its annual list of endangered historic places to spark local actions to preserve historic buildings. The list does not come with financial awards, but he said that the group has met its preservation goals for over half of the places that have appeared on the list.

“The idea is [that the list] helps to energize local efforts,” Sarafin said.

Sarafin added that he hopes the list gives people a sense of the places in Virginia that need to be preserved.

“I would like to think that it sort of gives a snapshot about what the state of preservation is in the state,” Sarafin said.

In addition to Preservation Virginia’s announcement, Sally Veach, a local artist, said during Tuesday’s news conference that she would be donating $761 to the Shenandoah County Historical Society. The proceeds formed 20 percent of the sales of her paintings.

“Hopefully, what we do today will make a lasting difference,” Veach said during the announcement.

Preservation Virginia also included the Afton Inn in Front Royal on its list of endangered historic places. In its official list, the group praised an April 27 agreement between the Board of Directors for the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority and 2 East Main Street LLC that would limit how much of the building will be demolished.

“We applaud decision-makers in Front Royal for adopting a sensible historic preservation approach for the redevelopment of this prominent structure,” the group states in its official list.

Virginia Preservation placed nine other historic sites onto its annual list, all of which are located outside of the Shenandoah Valley:

    • Sandy Level F&P Depot, a railroad depot in Pittsylvania County that Preservation Virginia states on its list “suffers from general neglect.”
      Historic properties affected by recurring flooding statewide. The group raises concerns that rising sea levels from climate change could harm historic buildings in tidal communities in Virginia.
      Utility infrastructure proposals and review processes. The group states that pipeline projects are harming historic buildings.
      Village of Aldie. According to Preservation Virginia, Loudoun County intends to demolish a 19th-century building in order to build a fire station.
      Boydton Institute, a training school for African-Americans between 1879 and 1940.
      Carr-Greer Farmhouse, a house in Albermarle County and Charlottesville that was built by emancipated slaves shortly after the Civil War.
      Grace Heritage Center, a church in Lincoln  that was built by African-Americans in 1885.
      Green Pastures Recreation Center, a recreation area for African-Americans that was built by the U.S. Forest Service in the 1930s.
      Roanoke Fire Station No. 7, a fire station that the City of Roanoke has planned to demolish.