Some people won’t miss the old Pinecrest Dairy Barn. For them, it might have been an eyesore. For many others, however, the burned rubble that remains from a Sunday night fire represents the loss of a major landmark.
In its heyday, the barn was part of a working farm that supplied milk, butter, eggs and meat for the former Pinecrest Sanitarium and its adjacent buildings. The barn was home to more than 40 cows and represented a time in history when business, health and agriculture joined forces to provide care for patients with tuberculosis.
Because of the nature of the disease, patients had to be isolated from family members during a long treatment period. Today, medications allow patients with TB to be treated effectively, and the disease can be rendered noncontagious within a couple of weeks.
Constructed in the late 1930s, the dairy barn housed 40 cows. A second barn housed herds of hogs and was fully equipped with the most modern fixtures of its day, including a butchering room.
The nurses’ and physicians’ home, hog barn and laundry were made possible through the Public Works Administration.
Although the changes in the facility decreased the need for the farm over time, the rustic barn and its silos bore silent testimonies to an important bygone era.
The Raleigh County Historic Landmarks Commission had been working to find a way to restore the property, which belongs to the Department of Health and Human Resources. Economic developers also have an interest in the land and have launched some ideas about a future industrial park.
Fortunately, the land can still be put to good use. However, we’ve lost forever one of Raleigh County’s most significant landmarks.
According to Beckley Fire Capt. Mike Peck, the fire is “suspicious.” The fire marshal’s office will have to determine whether the blaze was a result of arson. If that turns out to be the case, we hope those responsible are caught and prosecuted.
It’s sad enough to have lost such an important piece of our heritage. It’s downright despicable to think someone might have deliberately caused that loss.