Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Darien Grant to Fund Study for Preserving Dairy Barn; City Hopes to Reuse the Aging Structure but Has Not Determined How

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Darien Grant to Fund Study for Preserving Dairy Barn; City Hopes to Reuse the Aging Structure but Has Not Determined How

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORRISON

An old dairy barn beside U.S. 17 in McIntosh County is on the verge of becoming a major tourist attraction for Darien.

The Huston Dairy Barn on the east side of the highway, part of the historic Butler Island Plantation, has not housed a cow for many years. But a federal grant awarded last week to the city will launch an effort to rehabilitate and repurpose the aging structure, said Frank Feild, executive director of Darien's Downtown Development Authority.

The $172,500 grant will fund a one-year study for the city to "plan the stabilization, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use" of the barn, Feild said. The re-use notion is crucial to the long-term survival of the barn, which dates back to 1929.

"In other words, we're not going to put cows back in there," Feild said.

The grant came through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study will also find other grants to pay for the actual rehabilitation and restoration of the structure.

The city's plans for the barn are two-fold, Feild said. It will serve as a pull-off on the 17-mile Altamaha Scenic Byway that runs along Georgia 99 and U.S. 17 through McIntosh County and into Glynn County, and it will house an interpretive center for the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area.

One lifelong Darien resident who spent a part of her childhood on Butler Island was happy to learn that the barn will be preserved, no matter its new purpose.

"They've torn everything down except the barn and the main house," Janice Andrews said. "Everything else from the old days is gone."

Andrews' parents met on the Huston Dairy Farm while they worked there and eventually married. Her father, W.P. "Buck" Buchanan, came east from Manchester, Ga., in the 1920s to work on the farm. Fannie Gale, a McIntosh County girl, served ice cream to tourists at The Shanty, the farm's roadside restaurant.

Andrews was 8 when her family moved into downtown Darien in 1945, but she has vivid and pleasant memories of the time she spent on Butler Island.

"Herbert Bryan was Daddy's boss and he lived in the big house," she recalled. …

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