Historic Event Center in Pike County, GA

History

Historic Event Center Pike County GA

If these walls could talk… William Thomas Barker (1839-1902), a farmer in Pike County, Georgia, built the whiskey bonding barn circa 1870. An 1898-1899 Georgia Gazetteer lists at least five distilleries in Pike County. Constructed in the late 1800’s soon after the War Between the States, this building most likely served as the local bonding warehouse for those distilleries.

Bonding barns or warehouses for the storage of whiskey were established by Congress in 1868 across the whiskey producing region in order to delay the payment of federal excise taxes while the whiskey was aging for up to four years.

After the temperance movement rose to prominence, the Barn became a store for tenant farmers who needed seed, fertilizer, and supplies for crops of cotton, grain and corn. We know this because “shopping lists” from 1899 and 1900 are penciled on the walls by the doors! The Barn housed cotton when the local gins in Zebulon and Concord were running at full capacity during harvest season. An elderly local resident remembers attending school there when the African-American Mt. Olive Church’s school was destroyed by a tornado in the late 1930’s.

Historic Event Center Pike County GA

Upon Barker’s death in 1902, the barn passed to his wife, Amanda. The property then passed through several family members until it was sold in 1951 to a local resident who raised turkeys on the property. The Barn became a warehouse that supported that farm. Considered the “turkey capital of the South” in the first half of the twentieth century, Molena began the tradition of supplying the White House with a Thanksgiving Turkey! The last residents of the Barn were a mother turkey vulture and her two fledglings that grew up while the structure was being renovated around them—they still return every spring to sit on the roof and check out visitors.

Now the Whiskey Bonding Barn is ready for the twenty-first century! Pike Historic Preservation, Inc. purchased and renovated the Barn with an eye toward retaining its architectural integrity and significance as a symbol of the area’s agricultural past. On May 12, 2008, the Barn was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Pike County, Georgia is located approximately one hour south of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and is considered “Atlanta’s best-kept secret” by area residents. Rolling pastures, pecan groves, and wide-open vistas greet visitors who travel south for our annual SlowExposures Photography Exhibition, the PhoDOGraphy Show, the Tour de Pike Bike Ride and the Pimento Fest in the county seat of Zebulon.

The completion of the Barn enables its guests to host business and family events in the setting that honors our past, yet features up-to-date amenities for any gathering.

Help Support the Barn!

Historic Event Center Pike County GA

Your tax-deductible gift to Pike Historic Preservation, Inc. will help us keep the Barn project on track! The successful renovation of the Whiskey Bonding Barn demonstrates that our old buildings can be saved and serve new purposes in the twenty-first century.

You may click on the "Donate" button here to make an online donation now.

Join The 1870 Society and enjoy special members-only events and benefits.  The friends of the Whiskey Bonding Barn are committed to raising funds to preserve and maintain the Barn and its immediate environment.  1870 Society members are those who appreciate the past, present and future of Pike County and who enjoy the opportunity to get together in the unique ambiance of this 140 year-old landmark for fun and fellowship.

Annual membership benefits are available:

BARNRAISERS: Annual membership: $100.00 individual/$175.00 couple.
Patron level members are invited to the annual Sustainable Feast dinner served at the Barn featuring a menu of professionally prepared locally-grown, organic ingredients and the Autumn Chili and Cornbread Supper, an informal event for 1870 Society members and their families.

Before Renovation

Historic Event Center Pike County GA Photo by Brenda Fayard Historic Event Center Pike County GA Photo by Brenda Fayard

After Renovation

Historic Event Center Pike County GA Photo by Brenda Fayard Historic Event Center Pike County GA