Collections > Carolina Planning Journal > Carolina Planning Vol. 9.1: North Carolina's Small Cities > Abandoned Farmsteads in North Carolina: Lost History and Wasted Housing

You're driving down one of the state's secondary roads — it might be SR 1005 in southern Alamance County — and you see a two-story, white frame farmhouse in its grove of tall trees. From a distance, the prominence of the house and its pleasant setting suggest that it might be the seat of a prosperous family farm. But as you come closer, you see that the windows are broken, the chimney tops are crumbling, and the house is slowly falling apart. No one lives here anymore. This fine old family homeplace, once the most substantial building in its community, has been left to rot away. The scene reflects a problem that North Carolinians are just beginning to recognize and understand — abandonment and neglect are destroying the well-built farmhouses vital to North Carolina's rural heritage and landscape. In rural communities across the state, people build new houses, many of poor quality and construction, and purchase mobile homes, while older, usable dwellings — often of excellent quality materials and craftsmanship not affordable today — are left to fall into ruin. Our history is lost, and valuable housing stock is wasted.