Built in 1889, this interesting structure is located away from the rocky coastline of Cape Elizabeth, a lasting remnant of the agricultural history of the town. The building was constructed as the Cape Elizabeth Grange Hall. The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. The Grange organization, as it is often known as, had grange halls all over the country, where farming community members would gather to discuss issues and challenges that needed addressing. The building echos late 19th century architectural styles, blending multiple to create an elegant composition, wrapped in wood clapboard and shingle siding. In 1916, the hall was purchased by P. W. Sprague from the Cape Elizabeth Grangers to insure its use and upkeep – and it is still the home of the Patrons of Husbandry, Cape Elizabeth Grange #242.
There is something about red barns that just scream Vermont! Located in Richmond, the West Monitor Barn is one of the best-preserved large barns in the region. The West Monitor Barn was constructed in 1903 by Uziel Whitcomb. At the turn of the century when agriculture represented 70% of the American economy, the Whitcomb’s operation was one of the most successful; at a time when the average farm had eight cows, the Whitcomb’s had hundreds. Hay and grain were planted and harvested by hand and horse. More than 175 cows were milked three times a day by hand inside of this barn. Milk went from cow to pail, to can, and then was driven to market by horse and wagon. It was an operation that represented the epitome of hand-powered farming, and was an operation admired nationwide. The farm was so large and eventually shut down decades later, leaving the iconic barn to decay. A new owner purchased the structure and began a massive restoration project which took years. About 40% of the timbers in the reconstructed barn are original and the rest have been carefully and accurately re-fabricated. In addition, the stone foundation and walls are all original stone – quarried by hand from the back fields. The East Monitor Barn also on the property is in fair condition and could use the same updates. The barn is now commonly used as a venue for weddings and other special events!
Appleton Farms, spanning between Hamilton and Ispwich, MA, is a stunning historic property of historic buildings, rolling hills, and agricultural sites. Appleton Farms is the oldest continuously operating farm in New England and perhaps in America. Farming activities here can be document under continuous operation from 1638, at the time of the original land grant to Samuel Appleton (1586-1770), to the present day. The majority of agricultural buildings and residential dwellings date to the period of the farm’s most productive era, 1857-1904, under seventh generation owner Daniel Fuller Appleton. Appleton Farms has been a leading survivor of northeastern Massachusetts’ agricultural economy, an area replete with rural and small village community character. As the primarily dwelling for farm owners since at least 1794 and perhaps earlier, this home has seen numerous renovations and additions over its lifetime. The main beams of the building are believed to date to 1794 when Isaac Appleton passed the farm to his son, Samuel, though the original house may date as early as 1769, when Samuel Appleton married Mary White and managed the farm with his 65-year-old father. Today, the 658-acre property, operated by the Trustees of Reservations, is open to the public to go for long walks, horseback rides, and history lessons on the significance of agriculture in this part of the state.
This meeting hall in Suffield, CT was built in 1883 on Crooked Lane, named Central Hall. When Crooked Lane was renamed Mapleton Ave, the hall was so renamed to reflect this name change, to Mapleton Hall. Starting in 1885, the hall was home to the local grange, a fraternal organization that encouraged families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. With Suffield’s active agricultural uses (primarily in tobacco crops), this grange was quickly funded and built. For nearly 100 years the building saw use as a fraternal center, with dwindling membership after WWII, when the agricultural character of town began to make way for suburban growth. The building was sold to the Mapleton Hall Asssociation, in 1978, who began restoration of the structure which began to decay from deferred maintenance. The building is now owned by The Suffield Players, a non-profit community theater company.
The Thomas and Esther Smith House in the Feeding Hills area of Agawam, Massachusetts is a 1½ story, vernacular Georgian style house with a gambrel roof. Feeding Hills, so named for its bountiful soils, is an agricultural plain approximately five miles west of the Connecticut River at the eastern foot of Provin Mountain. The land was highly sought after by farmers, with many agricultural uses still taking place here to this day. This parcel of land was purchased by Thomas Smith, a carpenter, in 1757, who likely built the home soon after for his new family. The family occupied the home into the mid-19th century, harvesting crops and raising cattle for sustenance and sale. The agricultural property was subdivided numerous times and now sits on just an acre. The home and remaining land was purchased by the Agawam Historical Society in 2002, who maintain the property and educate on Agawam’s agricultural heritage.
One of the more “Vermont” building types is the cattle barn. When I was driving through the charming town of Tunbridge, I saw a massive barn out of the corner of my eye and had to slam on the brakes to get out and take a photo of one of the most unique I have ever seen! This octagonal bam was built by Lester Whitney, a descendent of the Whitney family, which played a significant role in the pioneering, settlement and community life of the historical town of Tunbridge. The Whitney Farm was primarily a dairy farm, with the growing of corn and hay, raising horses, making butter, and cutting ice from a pond created by damming the brook near the old brickyard. The Whitney’s raised sheep, made maple syrup and had an apple orchard south of the house. The purpose of a round barn was that the circular shape has a greater volume-to-surface ratio than a square barn. Regardless of size, this made round barns cheaper to construct than similar-sized square or rectangular barns because they required less materials. It also would be easier for carriages, plows and animals to navigate as there were no sharp corners to go around.