Asheville Volunteer Group Repairs Historic Palmer Barn

Palmer barn 1Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently received help to restore key elements of the historic Palmer Barn. Asheville building contractor Sean Perry and his crew partnered with the park and Friends of the Smokies to preserve the structural integrity of the barn and improve visitor safety through the renovation project in Cataloochee in the North Carolina section of the park.
“We are grateful for partners like Sean Perry who volunteered their expertise to help us make much-needed repairs to the Palmer Barn this year and the Cook Cabin last year,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “This is a great example of a private-public partnership that has enabled us to better care for these special places.”
The circa 1902 three-story Palmer Barn sits near the Palmer House in Cataloochee which is one of the most frequently visited locations in the Big Cataloochee area of the park. Perry’s team helped renovate the large timber bridge leading into the barn, replaced a 26-foot long section of a 6×6 sill beam on the back of the barn, replaced support posts and select siding, and made other structural improvements. Palmer barn 4
“Our restoration work is a gift to the Smokies, our community, and to those who had to leave their homes behind due to the creation of the park,” said Sean Perry. “It felt amazing each day to drive the 2.5 miles from our campsite, along fields of elk, to our job site where all that mattered for a week’s time was completing this single project. Each day we’d look at the day’s accomplishments with true joy and inspiration.”
The Palmer home place is treasured by park visitors, many of whom who enjoy exploring the massive barn, walking back in time as they enter the barn’s second level by way of the unique, 30-foot long, locust timber bridge. The house includes an exhibition that provides interpretation to the history of the Palmer family site, complete with black and white photos of its past residents. The Friends of the Smokies funded repairs last year to the Palmer House including a new shake roof, rot repairs, and new paint.palmer barn 3
In 2017, Perry and his crew spent a week camping in Little Cataloochee performing significant restoration work on the 19th century Cook Cabin. In 2017, after Matt Bush of Blue Ridge Public Radio News ventured out to the remote Cook Cabin site and subsequently aired a story about the Hands of Sean Perry Co.’s work there, Friends of the Smokies supporters Rich and Leigh Pettus stepped forward with a significant financial donation, earmarked for renovation materials for the Palmer Barn, a place the Pettuses treasure as well.
palmer barn 2“The Hands of Sean Perry Co.’s donation of a week’s worth of highly skilled crew labor, combined with the Pettuses’ financial gift for materials is reminder of how lucky we are to have such a unique partnership and we at Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are thankful for their generosity,” said Friends of the Smokies North Carolina Director Anna Zanetti. Friends of the Smokies is an official nonprofit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has raised more than $60 million to support critical park programs and maintain the Smokies as a crown jewel of the National Park Service.
To view a video highlighting the renovation work, please visit For more information about Cataloochee, please visit