Atherton Farmstead // c.1840

This beautiful farmhouse in Cavendish, Vermont is located along a winding dirt road and has ties to one of the town’s original family’s. A home was built here in 1785 and changed hands numerously over the first few decades of its existence. The farmhouse that was built also served as a tavern for travellers along the newly laid out Wethersfield Turnpike. It is possible that the cheap land and rural character of the new town was appealing to some, but reality away from true commerce may have made many sell the farm after a few years, which could explain why the property was bought and sold so often early on. The property was purchased by Jonathan Atherton, a Revolutionary War veteran, farmer, surveyor and lawyer, who acquired large landholdings in Cavendish. In 1821, Jonathan Atherton was sued in court by his neighbor, Jedediah Tuttle for beating Tuttle’s wife Lydia. In order to finance the bonds, Atherton mortgaged all his real estate in Cavendish to his brother Joseph, and Elihu Ives, Jonathan Atherton Jr.’s father-in-law. Atherton St. lost the case and had to pay a fine. The property was eventually inherited by Stedman Atherton, the youngest son of Jonathan, who seems to have demolished the old homestead and constructed the present home on the site. The original dwelling was also the childhood home of Henry B. Atherton, a staunch abolitionist and soldier in the American Civil War, who later served as a lawyer and state legislator for New Hampshire, and his sister Eliza (Atherton) Aiken, a Civil War nurse who has been referred to as America’s own “Florence Nightingale”. The old Atherton farmstead was recently renovated.

Dutton Farmhouse // c.1840

Another one of the Landmark Trust USA properties in Dummerston, Vermont is the Dutton Farmhouse, a meticulously restored Greek Revival farmhouse from around 1840. The gable-roof farmhouse was possibly an addition to an earlier dwelling built decades earlier as a one-and-a-half-story center-chimney home, seen at the rear today. The first known owner of the farmhouse was Asa Dutton who farmed off the large orchards. Generations later, the farmhouse served as a dormitory for migrant laborers who worked nearby, with the interior being altered. The property was eventually gifted to the Landmark Trust USA, who began a massive restoration project on the home, uncovering original detailing and even historic wallpaper! The house has since been meticulously restored and preserved and is available for short-term rentals! The charming interiors and near silence outside is a perfect getaway from city life.

Bond Farmhouse // c.1800

This farmhouse is unreal… Located on a rural back road in Millbury, I came across this rambling old Cape house with a stone wall and everything! The home appears to have been built in the late 18th or early 19th century, possibly as a half-cape (with the door and two windows to the right) for Emery Bond, or possibly his father, Oliver Bond. The home (like many Cape houses) was added onto as the family grew and finances could necessitate a more substantial house. It likely added the two bays to the left of the front door next, then bumping out the sides by the 20th century to give it the present, elongated appearance. It’s not often that a once-modest Cape house stops me in my tracks!

Littlefield Farm // c.1843

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!

Coggeshall Farm // c.1750

Located on the Poppasquash Peninsula, in my favorite Rhode Island town of Bristol, the Coggeshall Farmhouse showcases the historic rural farming character of the town, which saw much development by the 19th century. In 1723, Samuel Viall (1667-1749 purchased farmland from Nathaniel Byfield, who had acquired most of the north part of Poppasquash as one of the original “founders” of Bristol (though the Wampanoag people had been already living here for centuries). Viall or a descendent likely had this small Georgian farmhouse built on the land, along with outbuildings to farm the beautiful land here. In the early nineteenth-century Wilbour and Eliza Coggeshall were tenant farmers at the farm. The Coggeshall’s son, Chandler Coggeshall, later became a politician and helped to found the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1888, which became known as the University of Rhode Island. The farm eventually was acquired by industrialist Samuel P. Colt, nephew of firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt, who created a massive estate on the land. In 1965 the State of Rhode Island purchased the Colt Estate for use as a state park, and the Bristol Historical Society petitioned the state for permission to preserve the old Coggeshall farm house on the property as a museum. Coggeshall Farm Museum was established in 1973 to educate modern Americans about eighteenth century New England farm life.

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.

“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.