This is a large complex of several agricultural buildings and numerous additions and ancillary structures. The main barn on the site is a large gable-entry bank barn on a raised basement with a gable-roof (Barn I). Six additions are attached to this central barn (Additions I, II, III, IV, V and VI). A standalone eave-entry gable-roof barn is described as Barn II. A gable-end to gable-end adjoined pair of gable-roof barns constitute Barn III with addition. Additional small outbuildings are noted in the Relation to Surroundings portion of this Historic Resource Inventory. Barn I is perpendicular to West Avon Road, which passes this property at a north to south angle.
Barn I is a large 1 ½-story gable-entry barn on a raised basement with a gable-roof. The primary façade is the west gable-end, which faces West Avon Road. The main entry on this gable-end is an oversize wooden panel sliding door, mounted on an upper track, centered on the first story. Each panel features decorative X bracing on the exterior. The north half of this façade is blank. The south half is occupied by a westward projecting gable-roof addition (Addition IV). Centered over the main entry is a painted hilly landscape with the text “J.C. Thompson – Sunrise Farm”. An arched window is centered beneath the roof ridgeline within the gable-attic, above the landscape and text. An eight-pane horizontal foundation window is located in the northern half of this façade. A mortared brownstone foundation appears to constitute the foundation on this end. An earthen ramp leads up to the main entry. The north eave-side of the main barn is blank.
The east gable-end is partially occupied by Addition I, a 1 ½-story gable-roof addition mounted gable-end to gable-end against the east wall of the main barn. The north walls of both the main barn and Addition I are flush. Addition I’s roof ridgeline is slightly lower than that of the main barn. A stationary six-pane window is centered beneath the roof ridgeline on the east gable-end of the main barn. A small portion of the east gable-end wall is exposed on the exterior at the southeast corner. The basement level is fully-exposed at this corner. A wooden pass-through door is located near the southeast corner, with six window panes in the upper half. This door is flanked by a six-pane window to the south, at the very southeast corner, and a paired six-pane window to the immediate north, adjacent to the south eave-side of Addition I. The first-story contains a series of four windows at the sill level. The south eave-side of the main barn is completely occupied by Addition III at the southeast corner and Addition V across the remainder of this side going west.
Addition I is a large 1 ½-story gable-entry bank barn with a gable-roof. This addition is attached gable-end to gable-end with the east end of the main barn. This barn is oriented parallel to the main barn and the north wall of both the addition and main barn are flush. The north eave-side of Addition I is blank, except for a single basement window near the northeast corner, made possible by the gently downward slope in the grade from west to east. The northern half of the east gable-end is occupied in part by Addition II. The southern half includes the main entry to this addition, a pair of oversize hinged wood plank doors, accessed by an inclined earthen ramp. The south eave-side includes many openings on both the basement and first-stories. On the basement level, beginning at the southeast corner and working west, first is a split pair of six-pane windows, followed by a gap and a trio of six-pane stationary windows, and a recessed over-size doorway with a six-pane window set within. A small shed roof projection is located at the southwest corner where Addition I meets the east gable-end of the main barn at the basement level, which appears to include a wood plank hinged pass-through door. On the first-story, beginning at the southeast corner and working west, first is a short gap followed by a window opening and a very narrow tall wood plank door with hinges. The remainder of this wall is occupied by two six-pane window-square door-six-pane window combinations. The eastern combination has a hinged wooden plank door. The western combination has a sliding wooden door divided into four panels, mounted on an upper track.
Addition II is a small 1-story shed-roof addition projecting to the east from the east gable-end of Addition I, in the northeast corner. The north eave-side appears to have three evenly-spaced small window openings spread along the length of this side. The east end of this addition includes a wood-plank pass-through door at the southeast corner. The south eave-side includes a paired six-pane window arrangement at the southeast corner, with a sliding pass-through size door to the immediate west, mounted on an upper track, with a six-pane window mounted within. The western half of the south eave-side includes a single six-pane window to the immediate west of the door, a short gap, and a run of four six-pane windows. This addition appears to have a concrete foundation.
Addition III is a 2 ½-story shed-roof addition occupying the southeast corner of the main barn, projecting south on the basement and first-story levels. The north eave-side of this addition joins the main barn, while the west end of this addition adjoins Addition IV. The south eave-side of Addition III contains an unattached pair of six-pane windows stacked vertically on the basement and first stories. The east gable-end contains an oversize pair of wooden plank hinged doors on the basement level, stretching the full width. The first story contains an unattached pair of six-pane windows. A single six-pane window is mounted within the gable-attic on this end.
Addition IV is a 2 ½-story hipped-roof addition running perpendicular to and projecting south from the south eave-side of the main barn. This addition has a long and skinny footprint, and is subservient to the much larger Addition V, to which Addition IV attaches on its east eave-side. The north gable-end of Addition IV adjoins the south eave-side of the main barn. The east eave-side contains an oversize sliding wooden door in the northern half, mounted on an upper track. Two six-pane windows are located above this door on the first-story. The southern half of the east eave-side appears to be blank on both stories. The south gable-end contains a modern pass-through type door on the basement level. The first story is blank.
Addition V is a large 1 ½-story eave-entry bank structure with a gable-roof. It is oriented perpendicular to the main barn and projects to the south from its south eave-side. Addition IV runs the full length of the east eave-side of Addition V. The south gable-end of Addition V includes two six-pane windows, symmetrically placed along its length. The first-story is blank. A six-over-six double-hung window is centered within the gable-attic. The west eave-side faces West Avon Road and is the front face for this addition. The main entry on this side is an oversize wooden panel door, centered on the first story, and accessed by a large earthen ramp. A six-over-six double-hung window is centered to each side of this entry. A square hay-door is mounted immediately above the oversize first-story entry. A gable-roof wall dormer is centered over this main entry, enclosing a four-pane arched window within. The foundation on this western eave-side is of mortared brownstone construction, and includes a foundation window in the southern half.
Addition VI is a 1 ½-story gable-roof bank addition projecting west from the southern half of the west gable-end (façade) of the main barn. The first-story is a single-bay open stall, accessed from the south eave-side. Two double-hung six-over-six windows are located above this stall beneath the eave. The west gable-end of Addition IV is blank on the first-story and only includes a four-pane arched window, centered beneath the roof ridgeline. The north eave-side is blank.
The primary exterior cladding used on Barn I and all of its additions is vertical wooden flush-board, painted white. The area beneath the eave on the south eave-side of Addition I is faced with horizontal wooden siding. All window, door, and cornerpost trim is painted maroon in color. The western wall foundations on the main barn and Addition V are of mortared brownstone construction. The foundation on Addition II appears to be concrete. The roofs on all structures except Addition I appears to be light gray asphalt shingle. Addition I’s roof appears to be rolled metal. A large square cupola is centered upon the roof ridgeline of the main barn. A pair of arched four-over-four double-hung windows is located within each of the four sides of this cupola. The cupola is capped by a pyramid-shaped roof covered with red metal sheathing, and topped by a spire and weathervane.
A second complex of barns is located to the immediate southeast of those previously described. This complex includes Barn II, a gable-roof bank barn parallel to West Avon Road, and Barn III with Addition, a gable-end to gable-end joined pair of structures oriented perpendicular.
Barn II is a 1 ½-story gable-roof bank barn with an eave-entry. The primary façade of this barn is the west eave-side. The main entry on this side consists of a slightly-off center pair of oversize hinged wood plank doors, accessed by an inclined earthen ramp. A small hinged pass-through door of wood plank construction is located at the extreme southwest corner on the first story. The remainder of the façade appears to be blank.
The south gable-end exposes the basement level. An eight-pane horizontal window is mounted in the western half of the basement level. An overwidth doorway is located in the eastern half on this level. A lengthy downspout runs from the eave at the southwest corner diagonally down this gable-end of the barn to the sill line at the southeast corner. A rectangular opening is located in the gable-attic, centered beneath the roof ridgeline. The east eave-side also exposes the full basement level, but is blank. The north gable-end is blank as well.
Barn II is covered with vertical wooden flush-board siding, painted white. The roof is covered with gray asphalt shingles. A single modern chimney crests the roofline roughly in the center of the structure.
Barn III is a 1 ½-story gable-entry bank barn with a gable-roof. It is perpendicular to Barn II and the southwest corner is very close to Barn II’s northeast corner. The primary entry to barn III is what appears to be an oversize door occupying half of the west gable-end. The remainder of this end is blank. The north eave-side appears to be blank. The east gable-end is occupied by a large gable-roof addition, attached gable-end to gable-end. The south eave-side exposes the full basement level. This entire side appears to be blank except for a single four-pane horizontal window located near the southwest corner.
The addition is situated gable-end to gable-end with the east end of Barn III. As the ground slopes down from west to east, the entire addition structure is situated slightly lower than Barn III. The north eave-side is blank. The east gable-end contains two pairs of wooden plank hinged doors, occupying the full width of the first-story. The south eave-side also appears to be blank.
The exterior of Barn III and the addition is faced with vertical wooden siding, except for the north eave-side. This side of both structures is faced with horizontal wooden siding. The exterior is painted white. The roofs appear to be covered with gray asphalt shingles.
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 New England barn or gable front barn was the successor to the English barn and relied on a gable entry rather than an entry under the eaves. The gable front offered many practical advantages. Roofs drained off the side, rather than flooding the dooryard. With the main drive floor running parallel to the ridge, the size of the barn could be increased to accommodate larger herds by adding additional bays to the rear gable end. Although it was seen by many as an improvement over the earlier side-entry English Barn, the New England barn did not replace its predecessor but rather coexisted with it; both types continued to be constructed.
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.
The Sunrise Farm is listed as a contributing resource in the Pine Grove Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. See Sources for a link to the official National Register nomination.
Opposite the Pine Grove School is the Oliver Thompson Farm, with an
1856 Italianate farmhouse and 1874 barn, topped with a lantern with
round-head windows. “Sunrise Farm” and a scene of Talcott Mountain with
the sun rising over it are painted on the gable end of the barn. The
painting was done c. 1905 by a local artist, Clinton Hart, and retouched
in 1974. Two tobacco barns, several sheds, and a slate-roofed
ice house surmounted by a lantern, also stand on the property which
includes 50 acres of land, now cultivated primarily with potatoes,
though until the mid-1950s, tobacco was grown. The flat-roofed farmhouse,
conventional in its fenestration and siding, has wide, overhanging
eaves, and a veranda, the roof of which is supported by flaring
posts of intersecting boards, all topped with lyre-like capitals,
whimsical and undeniably hand-crafted.
Oliver Thompson Farm (712 West Avon Road): 1856, Italianate, 2-
story, clapboarded farmhouse with a flat roof with overhanging, bracketted
eaves and a veranda with sawn-wood trim. 1874, Italianate, 2 1/2-story,
vertical boarded barn with a lantern with round-head windows and a
finial with a copper arrow weathervane. Painted scene of “Sunrise Farm”
and the sun rising over Talcott Mountain on the west wall of the barn.
Numerous additional outbuildings, including a slate-roofed ice house
with a lantern, 2 tobacco barns, 2 sheds (Zimmerman, Section 7).
Typology: New England-gabled bank barn, but some of the barns are English pitched roof Historic significance: Pine Grove Historic District Register of Historic Places - 1980 The earliest house in the Pine Grove Historic District was probably an 18th-century home built by the ancestors of the present owners. The main, large barn was built by this family, c.1874. It is a vertical boarded barn with a lantern with round-headed windows and a finial with a copper arrow weathervane. A painted scene with the words, "Sunrise Farm", and the sun rising over Talcott Mountain (found to the east of the farm) is on the west wall of the barn. Numerous additional outbuildings are found on the property, including a slate-roofed ice house with a lantern, 2 tobacco barns, and 2 sheds. Use historic: agriculture Use present: agriculture Visible from road: yes Interior accessible: no Related features: lantern on peak of both the main barn and ice house, 2 tobacco barns, 2 sheds, and a chicken house, now used for farm equipment storage. Environmental features: fields on both sides and to the back of the barn. Threats: none known Materials: vertical wood siding, slate roof on ice house. Date of construction: c.1874 Ownership: private County: Hartford Location integrity: original location
The agricultural structures on this site are set well back from the road and may not be clearly visible. The farmhouse associated with this property is located to the immediate southwest of Barn I. A line of tall coniferous trees is located between the house and the road in the front yard. An asphalt driveway passes along the north side of the house, which then divides, with one leg arcing north to the main entry of the main barn, and the other leg arcing south around the south side of Addition V. Several additional smaller outbuildings are located on the property, including two small sheds to the south of Addition V, a shed to the west of the main barn, and a wagon shed to the northeast of Barn III. Several trees surround the house and shed immediately in the vicinity. A small creek flows to the east from southeast of Barns II & III, flowing into a small river which passes along the east side of this property. Agricultural fields surround the barns to the south, east, and north, as far as Thompson Road, which is the northern boundary. Dwellings line the north side of Thompson Road and the west side of West Avon Road. Woodlands are intermixed with the houses and also are present beyond the fields to the south and east.
Frame or Concrete Block Detached Garage 792 square feet, Bank barn 3,426 square feet, Frame Utility Shed 594 square feet, Frame Utility Shed 1,672 square feet.
N. Nietering & T. Levine, reviewed by CT Trust
Photographs by Liz Neff.
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, 213 pages.
Map of Avon, CT, retrieved on June 5, 2011 from website www.bing.com/maps.
Avon Assessor’s Records - Avon Assessor’s Office Real Estate Property Information online - http://www.avonassessor.com/
Zimmerman, Sarah, (Avon) “Pine Grove National Register District,” Nomination Form No. 80004066, 1980. National Park Service. Available from the Web: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/80004066.pdf