Shade Tobacco Barns, Grady County

If you’re from Georgia, you probably don’t associate these images with tobacco barns but these aren’t just any tobacco barns. They’re among the last remnants of a highly specialized segment of the tobacco industry. Shade tobacco.

Shade tobacco was grown for cigar wrappers in southwest Georgia, northwest Florida, and the Connecticut River Valley of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Wood-framed arbors and later, cheese cloth tents, filtered sun and kept insects away to achieve the higher grade of tobacco required for cigars.

Shade tobacco was grown in the United States from the 1840s until 1975. Most production in Grady County was finished by 1965, though, as Imperial Tobacco (previously American Sumatra) ceased operations.

Few shade tobacco barns survive in Georgia in any condition and well-preserved examples are rare. Thanks to Gaile Eubanks for help with the location.


10 thoughts on “Shade Tobacco Barns, Grady County

  1. Andrea Maxwell

    Next time you’re in Calvary Ga, check out the Maxwell House. It was built by Dr. Council Maxwell. His old doctor’s office, is right down then road from the house. It’s located on the Mule Day grounds.

  2. Alyssa McManus

    I drive past that third barn a couple times a week. Even though it has suffered some kind of damage, its very interesting, bc it allows you to see more of the ‘skeleton’.

  3. Mary

    I have seen these barns and was not sure what they were. However, I was very familiar with the flue cured tobacco barns in Colquitt County where I grew up. Thank you for this interesting bit of “tobacco lore.”

    1. Charles

      My first trip into Kentucky, I was amazed by black barns with open slat siding; later learned they were for “curing” BURLEY tobacco.

  4. Sandy Elder

    I grew up in Columbia County Florida and the main crop was tobacco and the barns were quite different . That was the first thing that caught my eye. Very educational….I love it. Thanks Sandy Elder

  5. ben dooley

    Great info and pictures Brian. We started frequenting the Florida Gulf coast in 1983 and now have a 2d home in the Apalachicola area. When we began going through the area there more than a dozen of these lovely old barns visible from the highway between Bainbridge, GA and Hosford, FL. Today I think only 2 remain. It is interesting to hear your description of the type of tobacco cured in these barns in your post. It confirms what I learned for the first time only last October from a roadside produce seller south of Quincy FL. She has several photos of tobacco harvesting on display and explained the history of the barn still standing near her stand. Her family grew Shade tobacco when she was a girl.


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