Barnes Lumber Goes Into Foreclosure

Carroll Conley, owner of J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Company.

J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Company will go on the auction block June 27 after Union First Market Bank decided to foreclose on the wholesale hardwood supplier, which for decades has been one of Crozet’s most important businesses.

“I owe money and I can’t pay them. I cannot fault them for what they are doing or be mad at them,” said owner Carroll Conley. “I kept people on too long and kept wages up too long. Those were bad decisions.”

Conley said he made his last loan repayment to the bank in February. That payment was not properly posted at first. “I raised cain with them about that. They were holding the money. But they have been a pretty good bank.”

Conley said his lawyer had recommended that he declare bankruptcy. “But I’m not going that way,” he said. “Why fight it for a year and still owe the money? I’m hurt. I’m very hurt. The economy is terrible. It’s happening all over the country.”

The downtown lumberyard employed 52 workers as recently as 2009 and its kilns worked around the clock. It mainly supplied high quality Appalachian hardwoods for flooring and cabinets. The collapse of new housing construction dried up demand.

Conley said he got a letter from the bank May 31. He thought he had a buyer for the 19-acre parcel, currently zoned heavy industrial but recommended for the same zoning as the downtown commercial area, but that buyer called few days before and withdrew. Conley said he had thought he had at least through June to find another buyer. He said he had given it to four different realtors to sell since 2010, but none had found a purchaser.

“When I leave Crozet, I’m leaving respecting people,” Conley said. “I don’t plan to have hard feelings.”

Tools and equipment will go on auction at 10 a.m. on the 27th and the real estate will go under the gavel at noon. The sale will be conducted at the lumberyard. The county assessment sets the lumber yard’s real estate value at roughly $3.2 million.

“I was hoping to be part of the new plan for this property,” Conley said. “It’s a super plan. But it’s not going to happen.”

A development scheme presented to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors by Katurah Roell of Piedmont Development Group imagines a mix of commercial buildings with apartments or offices on upper floors and with light industrial uses in some buildings near the railroad tracks. A central pedestrian space between new buildings near The Square is conceived of as similar to Charlottesville’s downtown mall. Parking lots would border the railroad. Library Avenue would extend east to Parkside Village and ultimately connect with Park Ridge Road.

“I hope whoever buys this place will respect the community and think about the neighbors. We always kept good setbacks from them.

“I don’t have any plans for after the sale. I’ll work around the house. I’ll support the community one way or another.”

Conley will be the grand marshal of the Crozet Independence Day parade to be held June 30. Organizers wanted to honor his many years of quiet philanthropy in the community and his wise council in civic affairs. For years Conley allowed employees who were CVFD volunteers to walk off their jobs at a moment’s notice to answer fire alarms.

“I’ve never treasured money,” Conley said. “I’ve always tried to be free-hearted and help people.”

The Crozet Gazette wrote about J. B. Barnes Lumber Company in a feature story in 2010.



  1. To the many readers out there who don’t know what is going on in this world. I seen this man take a dream and make it a reality and work very hard. He always believes in the other person and puts everyone FIRST before himself. He gives and never takes. So, when the big guys come along and start doing all the business and pushing the little guys out, it breaks my heart. These are folks who work very hard to give back to their communities and never take from them. These big shots come along and they don’t even know your name or who a family member might be. But rest assured this man did!! Maybe to some that doesn’t matter but to me it matters to know that someone thinks of me other then just a employee or a customer.
    I know times change and companies move forward but sometimes no matter what, you just can not take a company like this and loose the true values it has to make it more when it has it all. Again it breaks my heart that the banks get so caught up with not lending the money because they can be just as greedy. I guess no one cares about the small town folks anymore.
    I care and I wish I had the money to keep this dream alive!!!
    Our government says our economy is getting better by the day and people are getting jobs. Well to them I say come to the little towns that helped get you in office. We are slowly slipping away. Our jobs are gone, and our homes are still being taking away. So what part of the world do you live in where it is better? I don’t care about your numbers. I know what I see around me everyday and all the signs going up shutting it down and families leaving.
    Mr. Conley you have a BIG heart. I know you stand tall with pride because that is the kind of man you are!!!
    I respect you and wish you every bit of happiness in the future.

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