Wagon Hill Farm // 1804

Beginning in 1798, sea captain John Bickford (1765-1813), purchased a 127-acre farm which extended from the newly laid turnpike to the Oyster River. Bickford was a resident of Salem, Massachusetts, but owned his family’s homestead across the river on Durham Point and also purchased five other farms in the area but did not live on any of them. The Wagon Hill farmhouse was built in 1804 and is a great example of a vernacular Federal style house. In 1814 while on a voyage to the southern tip of Africa, Captain Bickford died. All of his New Hampshire property was sold except for this Durham farm which remained under the management of his widow, Mary Bickford. She worked as a housekeeper for Captain Joseph White in Salem, and rented out the Durham farm. In 1830, the farm was sold to Samuel Chesley, and it remained in the ownership of four generations of the Chesley family. Here, the family ran a diversified farm, from sheep, to ducks, to apple orchards. In 1960, the farm was sold to Loring and Mary Tirrell. Farming had ceased entirely by the time the Tirrells moved into the house but the fields were kept open and it’s agricultural past was honored by the placement of an old wagon on the crest of the hill. Over the years, the farm has become known to local residents as Wagon Hill Farm. It was purchased by the town in 1989, and serves as a lasting remnant of agricultural history and an amazing preserved open space in the town.

Breezy Cottage // 1840

On the backroads of the rural town of Wilmot, NH, I stumbled upon this perfect Greek Revival cottage tucked away on a dirt road. The home was built in 1840 by Col. Samuel Thompson, likely operated as a farm. The property was purchased by the Tewksbury Family decades later, who likely gave the home its name “Breezy Cottage”, after an older colonial home nearby, and subsequently the name of the street in which it is sited. The Greek Revival home is symmetrical with a wide, gabled roof and upper floors overhanging the recessed front porch. The home features bold corner and entry pilasters.

Appleton Farms // 1638

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.

Thomas Carter House // 1830

All I want for Christmas is a brick Federal house! This home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts was constructed in 1830 by Thomas Carter (1777-1863) and his wife Anna. The couple farmed the property and had eleven children (plus two who died in childbirth). According to a family history, the lime for the mortar on the home was burned in a kiln on the property by Thomas. The ancestral home remained in the family for generations, including by John Calvin Calhoun Carter, a town selectman, who added a full-length porch on the home in the mid-late 19th century (since removed). The home’s rural charm remains even-though it sits on a busy road in the Berkshires.

Sleepy Hollow Farm // c.1780

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!

“Bend of the Lane” // 1740

The aptly named house “Bend of the Lane” in Swansea was built around 1740 at the bend of Cedar Avenue and exhibits the charming rural history of the town. Harlow Luther is recorded as the builder of the house in 1740. Luther was a farmer and dairyman who located his house at the bend in Cedar Avenue, formerly known as Cedar Lane. Owners in the 19th century include Victor Gardner of the widely known farming family that settled primarily on Gardner’s Neck, and Philander Wilbur, a prominent Swansea resident who continued the dairy business, raising cattle and selling milk out of his barn. The barn was originally used for dairy operations, housing machinery for processing the milk. The functional aesthetic of the home represents many early farmhouses, along with the many later small additions as the farm and families grew.