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Saving the Flag Barn: Locals need to raise $70,000 to keep historic Maryland staple

If there’s an enduring symbol that dots the landscape in Calvert County, Maryland it’s the tobacco barn.

“It is part of our sense of place. What defines us,” says Calvert County Historic Preservation Planner Kirsti Uunila.

But the future of the most famous barn in this county is in question.

“It was pretty much known that the barn was in the way of future progress,” says long time county resident Dale Norfolk.

The Flag Barn, as it’s called, stands along Route 4: the only primary corridor into Washington, D.C. Every morning, thousands of commuters pass the barn heading northbound work. They know they’re close to home when they see it heading southbound after work.

Norfolk says, “Nobody goes in and out of this county that does not know that this barn is here with a flag on it.”

75-year-old Dale Norfolk grew up on this land, which his grandfather William Norfolk purchased more than 100 years ago.

“My grandfather bought this farm in 1912 and they actually moved here in an ox cart,” says Norfolk.

As a young man Dale Norfolk spent countless hours curing tobacco inside a barn built more than 150 years ago.

With a hearty laugh Norfolk says, “It’s quite a building and it’s withstood a lot of stuff and is still standing.”

Click here for more photos of the flag barn.

Like most farmers here, the Norfolk family stopped cultivating tobacco years ago. But the landscape of their lives was improved dramatically after this barn’s artistic rebirth.

In the early 1990s a student painted an America flag on the facade to honor those fighting in the first Gulf War.

Unnila says, “It’s now an icon because of the mural and the flag and the way that’s played into our much more recent American history.”

The stars and stripes on the barn are so meaningful to Norfolk that he and others in this community are asking for help.

“It’s just a part of our county and we want to save it,” says Norfolk.

Norfolk says a year ago a relative sold this land to someone planning commercial development here.

“There isn’t room for both the barn and the new building. So it has to go,” says Uunila.

Since everyone, including the new property owner, wants the barn saved, a compromise was hatched.

Norfolk says, “It’s literally going to be taken apart, put on trailers, hauled down the road and rebuilt.”

But like any business deal there’s a deadline. Organizers need to raise nearly $70,000 in a few months to pay for the move.

For more information on how to donate, click here.

Dale Norfolk owns the land across the street where the barn will eventually reside. He’s donating that property to the county to make sure that flag welcomes home travelers for another 150 years.

“We all need places to live but we can’t forget that we all need places to inspire us. We all need to be reminded where we are and what makes it unique,” says Uunila.

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