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Thursday, April 18, 2013

In the news: Ben Morris's See Rock City Barn

In the news: Ben Morris's See Rock City Barn

Before I say anything else, I'd like to thank my brother and Sister-in-law Scott and Sherry for letting me upload their pictures of the barn. Due to the time-sensitive nature of the story, I am not able to get there quick enough. Fortunately, they live close enough to get there while the story is still relevant. I do hope to visit this on my own in the upcoming weeks.

A couple of years back, Ben Morris bought some farm land located along the old highway along the south side of Cumming, GA in Forsyth County. Part of the property included an old rusty and worn barn dating back to the 1930's. Mr. Morris hired a handyman to fix up the barn and while work was done on the metal roof, the handyman noticed the very faded message found on many old barns along the old roads from a bygone era: See Rock City. The Metal Roof was Repainted and restored as close to the original as possible.

While it must be great to discover you own a piece of Americana, at least one person had a problem with it. As it turns out, Forsyth County now has a regulation prohibiting rooftop advertisements and Mr. Morris received a citation in the mail. In theory, if the ad is older than the law, then the barn should be grandfathered in and the Rock City message would stay. The county's Director of Planning and Development looked at an older aerial photo of the barn and found the roof as rusty as the day Mr. Morris bought the barn. He was told he had to paint over the advertisement or the ordinance would dictate a fine of $1,000 and possible jail time.

Mr. Morris has been rallying the locals to help preserve the barn's historic heritage. He would be willing to pay the fine to keep the lettering intact, but before he gets to that he'll fight the county over the issue. On his behalf, he got a letter from a code enforcement officer who remembers the Rock City ad being there from many years ago. According to various reports, Mr. Morris has his day in court today, April 18.

In the news: Ben Morris's See Rock City Barn

Still, there is good news, and the tide is turning. Hundreds (if not thousands) of people have written to support the barn. County commissioners are thinking about removing or changing the law, so that this barn can stay as it is today. On a state level, the GA Senate passed a law unanimously which allows old barns such as this one with ads for Georgia tourist destinations or products to be preserved. Who knew an old nostalgic barn on the Old Atlanta Highway (State Route GA 9) could garner so much attention?

Here's the location on a Google Map: goo.gl/maps/1cojO

In the news: Ben Morris's See Rock City Barn

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