Joyce Gentry lives on the land where she lived as a child-a farm in Wolftown in Madison County, toward the foothills of the mountains, that has been in her family for generations. Mrs. Gentry, a retired math teacher, says, “I’ve lived on farms my whole life.” Her son and daughter-in-law Brad and Amy Gentry now raise beef cattle on the family farm-a 145 acre spread with a horizon full of mountain views.
Mrs. Gentry’s strong ties to the land motivated her to protect it with a conservation easement last year. “I’m trying to keep the countryside like it is,” she says.
“I just don’t want the farm ever sold to a developer to cut it up into little lots.”
The property includes a distinctive round barn built in 1913, which was recently added to the state and national registers of historic landmarks. The red-painted barn is actually twelve-sided, with a steep metal roof and a silo that rises in its center like a turret. Inside, the silo is ringed by feeding troughs and around the troughs is a circle where cattle would shelter and feed. The structure is known as the Hoffman Round Barn-Hoffman being the family name of Mrs. Gentry’s maternal grandparents.
The barn is a remnant example of a design once promoted by agricultural colleges for its efficient use of building materials, structural stability, ample storage capacity and labor-saving benefits.
PEC’s Beth Burnam helped with the successful nomination of the barn as a historic landmark and assisted the Gentrys through the process of donating a conservation easement. The official recognition of the historic barn cleared the way for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to hold the easement on the property.
Mrs. Gentry plans to use some of her income from land conservation tax credits to fix up the nearly one hundred year old barn. The barn is visible from the main road near Wolftown, and the terms of the conservation agreement ensure a continued clear view of the historic structure, which is nestled into splendid scenery at the foot of the mountains.