First County Historic Landmark Farm
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By Jessie Burchette
The Richard Wainwright Barber farm in western Rowan County is now the first County Historic Landmark Farm.
County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to accept the Rowan County Historic Landmarks Commission’s recommendation to place that designation on the 242-acre farm at 225 Redmon Road, south of U.S. 70 and west of N.C. 801.
Currently owned by sisters Joyce Anne Barber and Rebecca Jane Barber Floyd, the farm has been in the Barber family since 1794 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
It is cited as one of the county’s most intact agricultural complexes of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The property contains 17 structures, many of which have been preserved and restored. It also uses farm practices, such as terracing, that date to the Civilian Conservation Corps and Soil Conservation Service of the 1930s.
James Rollans, chairman of the Landmarks Commission, and Charles Floyd, husband of Rebecca Floyd, won over a skeptical Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners Chairman Arnold Chamberlain noted that when the county restarted the Landmarks Commission, he expressed reservations about ever considering an entire farm for the designation, which reduces property taxes.
Floyd, a retired college professor, said most of the tract is in farming and timberland and already taxed under present-use value, which greatly reduces taxes.
Under the state historic designation, the property would be eligible for a 50 percent reduction in taxes, but Floyd said the family has no interest in asking for that reduction on the farmland or timberland. He indicated the family may seek the reduction on the structures.
Floyd said the family aims to save and preserve the farm, having already agreed to a development easement on the land. The family also is making plans to leave it to a preservation group to ensure it remains unchanged.
Rollans presented extensive information on the farm and the buildings, including a letter of support from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
Commissioner Jim Sides made the motion to approve the landmark designation.
At the outset of the discussion, Commissioner Jon Barber noted that he is a distant relative of the family that owns the farm and had consulted with County Attorney Jay Dees on whether he could participate.
Dees said he saw no legal conflict.
Still, Chamberlain told Barber while there was no “legal conflict of interest … It’s a good idea for you not to participate. … It’s your family.”
The board voted to excuse Barber from participating.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@ salisburypost.com.