One thing I really love about small towns in New England is the prevalence of amazing old homes on the winding back roads. Located in Boxborough, MA, the Jacob Littlefield Farmhouse showcases the agricultural character and charm seen in the town. The farmhouse and outbuildings were built by Jacob Littlefield, who likely hired a housewright from town as the home is a near match to a home built on a nearby street. Mr. Littlefield was a farmer from Wells, Maine with seven children and a wife named Anna. After his death, his wife Anna owned the farm, until her death in 1896. Their son Albert ran the farm from about 1896-1922, after which time Jacob’s grandson Earl was the owner. Earl was taxed in 1928 for ownership of two horses, 17 cows, a bull, the house, barn and shed, tool house, ice house, root house, hen house, garage, and a second house on 101 acres. He resided here until 1929 when it was sold out of the family. Since then, subsequent owners have restored the home and the various outbuildings to maintain the architectural and historic integrity of the property. We need more stewards of old homes like this!
Without question, this property is the most photographed site in the tiny town of Pomfret, Vermont, if not the state. The property dates to the late 18th century when John and Samuel Doten moved to the newly settled town of Pomfret Vermont, overlooking the growing town of Woodstock in the valley below. The two brothers acquired vast farmland on the hills of Pomfret and each built farmhouses adjacent to eachother, with Samuel getting elevated land and John developing the land sunken off what is now known as Cloudland Road into this stunning property. Sleepy Hollow Farm remained in the Doten family for centuries until the 1950s, when the owners sold the property to move to Woodstock and work for Laurance Rockefeller, the famous philanthropist and conservationist, who later donated his Summer home in Woodstock to the National Park Service. The property sold numerous times in the late 20th century, and is presently owned by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and his wife, Billie. They are clearly great stewards to the property’s rich history and various outbuildings, and must not care too much to have swarms of photographers at the end of their driveway year-round!
On the rural back roads of Suffield, CT, it is amazing how many historic farmhouses you can stumble upon. This is the Lewis-Zukowski Farmhouse, built in 1781, as one of the earliest brick homes built in this part of the state. When Hezekiah Lewis (?-1805) built his house in 1781, he was a farmer of modest prosperity. By the time of his death in 1805, he was somewhat wealthier, perhaps because of his second marriage in 1794 to widow Ruth Phelps, as his 91-acre farm. His estate indicates he was a traditional farmer of the period: he had a yoke of oxen, 2 horses, 2 cows, and 2 pigs, suggesting that he was primarily raising sustenance for his family, not products for market. Michael Zukowski arrived in Suffield in 1888 with his family as an immigrant from Poland. Zukowski worked on a farm in town for $8.00 a month plus board for local tobacco farmer Calvin Spencer. He had saved enough by 1905 to pay Hiram Knox (then the owner of the former Lewis Farm) $2,800 in cash, purchasing the property. Zukowski worked the farm until the 1920s, when his son took it over and he moved to another farm nearby. The house remained in the family one more generation until it was sold out of the family. It remains as an architecturally and culturally significant farm in Suffield.
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.