11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Tobacco Barns of Southern Maryland

Year Listed: 2004
Location: Annapolis, Maryland
Threat: Development


Significance

For almost 400 years, wood-frame tobacco barns have dotted the rolling fields of Southern Maryland, their shapes defining the character of the area's rural landscapes and their simple construction echoing traditional timber-framing methods used in England for centuries. Once essential to the process of air-curing tobacco, a mainstay crop of Maryland's agriculture since the 17th century, historic tobacco barns are now being lost at an alarming rate as the region's agricultural land is consumed by the spread of the D.C. metropolitan commuter-shed. Pressure from residential sprawl has only been aggravated by the unintended consequences of Maryland's 2001 "tobacco buy-out" state policy, which encouraged farmers to stop cultivating tobacco. Scores of tobacco barns now have no productive purpose, and stand unused and deteriorating.