This is a 1 ½ story side- or eave-entry bank barn with a shed-roofed addition. The ridge line is oriented north-south with the main entry facade facing east. The main eave-facade has a pair of exterior sliding doors in the center of the three bays. The left (south) bay has a fixed six-paned window. The right (north) bay has a pass-through door hinged at the far right corner. The south gable-facade has a shed-roofed addition with two open bays with braced front posts and an enclosed bay to the far left. There appears to be a door opening on the basement level. To the left of the opening is a sliding window. The north gable-facade has three evenly-spaced fixed six-paned windows. The west eave-facade has a pair of exterior sliding doors in the center bay. To the left of the doors is a pass-through door. The shed-roofed addition has a gable-roofed extension attached to the right bay on the rear eave-facade with a single open bay. The barn has clapboard siding that is painted red with white trim. The barn has an un-mortared fieldstone foundation and wood shingles on the main roof and asphalt shingle roofing solar panels on the roof of the shed addition.
The oldest barns still found in the state are called the “English Barn,” “side-entry barn,” “eave entry,” or a 30 x 40. They are simple buildings with rectangular plan, pitched gable roof, and a door or doors located on one or both of the eave sides of the building based on the grain warehouses of the English colonists’ homeland. The name “30 by 40” originates from its size (in feet), which was large enough for 1 family and could service about 100 acres. The multi-purpose use of the English barn is reflected by the building’s construction in three distinct bays - one for each use. The middle bay was used for threshing, which is separating the seed from the stalk in wheat and oat by beating the stalks with a flail. The flanking bays would be for animals and hay storage.
The 19th century saw the introduction of a basement under the barn to allow for the easy collection and storage of a winter’s worth of manure from the animals sheltered within the building. The bank barn is characterized by the location of its main floor above grade, either through building into a hillside or by raising the building on a foundation. This innovation, aided by the introduction of windows for light and ventilation, would eventually be joined by the introduction of space to shelter more animals under the main floor of the barn.
Ledyard was a “daughter town,” several stages removed from the settlement of the oldest parent community, New London, and the second stage community of Groton, as European settlers pushed inland from the coast in the early 18th century. Threats of Native American (Indian) attack were no longer a problem and people moved into remote areas to build farms widely separated from neighbors, in contrast to the earlier settlements focused on proximity to a meeting house. Native Americans remained a significant presence throughout history, with the Mashantucket Pequot tribal reservation first dating from the 1660s.
As the last section of Connecticut to be settled by Europeans, Ledyard contains some of the least desirable acreage for farming, located in a post-glacial landscape of bedrock and boulder-strewn glacial till. The land was acquired by descendants of the New London proprietors. Small farms, water-powered mills, lumbering, and fishing provided means of support. An exceptional level of family cohesiveness evolved in Ledyard, with family ties taking precedence over community. Several local population centers became small village clusters, including Gales Ferry, Ledyard Center, Quakertown, and the Gurdon Bill Store site.
Ledyard citizens played a significant part in the Revolutionary War. Later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, subsistence farming shifted to dairy farming to serve the urban markets of New London and Norwich. The maritime and naval shipbuilding of the Thames River later influenced the residential development of Ledyard, while the growth of the tribal casinos brought further growth in the late 20th century.
Property listed on National Register of Historic Places. This bank barn originally used as a dairy barn and for hay storage. Owner thinks barn may be from 1830. Barn has had some restoration work. Present use is for horses and roof holds solar panels. Barn seems to have had some use connected with a portable sawmill sometime in the not too distant past. Smaller building with a cupola is a newer building but also in keeping with uses of this present day farmstead.
The barn is one of two barns associated with house at 24 Vinegar Hill Road. A large wooded property of 133 acres, the surrounding land has been developed as mid- to late- 20th-century residential subdivisions.
S. Lessard and T. Levine, reviewed by CT Trust
Photographs by Anne T. Roberts-Pierson (firstname.lastname@example.org)- 12/07/2009
Town of Ledyard Assessor’s Record Map/Lot 79-2540-24 (133 acres).
Captain Mark Stoddard Homestead National Register Nomination #92001640, National Park Service, 1992.
Cunningham, Jan, A Historic and Architectural Resource Survey of the Town of Ledyard, Ledyard Historic District Commission, 1992.
Sexton, James, PhD, Survey Narrative of the Connecticut Barn, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Hamden, CT, 2005, http://www.connecticutbarns.org/history.
Visser, Thomas D.,Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, University Press of New England,1997.