Barn Record Wethersfield

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Building Name (Common)
Comstock, Ferre & Co.
Building Name (Historic)
n/a
Address
263 Main Street, Wethersfield
Typology
Overview

Designations

Historic Significance

Architectural description:

This is a 2 1/2-story side-entry barn with a series of additions/other barns attached to the main block. The main facade faces south and the ridgeline of the main block of the barn runs north-south, parallel with this portion of Main Street. The main south gable-facade of the barn has a two two-pane windows, one on each half of the end. The second level has a series of four equally spaced six-over-six double-hung windows. At the apex of the roof is a projecting hay track.

Extending to the east off of the east eave-side of the barn is a gable-roof addition, now called the Onion Room (addition a). Originally it was a storehouse for onions, now its a restored hall. The south eave-side of the addition is flush with the gable-facade of the main block. Centered in the south side of the Onion Room (addition a) is a set of two paneled pass-through doors, each nine-panes in the upper half. Above is an eight-pane transom. Flanking the entry are forty-pane windows with ten-pane transoms. The gable-end of the Onion Room (addition a) has a pair of side hinged hay doors on the main level and a third in the gable attic.

North of this section is a shed-roof section with a set of two paneled pass-through doors, each nine-panes in the upper half, as well as side lights and transoms (addition b).

North of this entry is another gable-roof barn, with its ridgeline running perpendicular to the main block (addition c). The gable-end of this barn is blank and extends further east the the Onion Room and the shed-roof infill addition.  The north side of addition c, the main block and the addition west of the main block are blank.

Extending west from the main block is an addition with its ridgeline perpendicular to the main block (addition d). The roof of addition d is longer on the south side. Once an open front, the south side of addition d now has an overhead garage door at the west corner, a pass-through door and six-over-six double-hung replacement window in the center and a pair of six-over-six double-hung windows in the east corner.

The final addition (addition e) has its ridgeline parallel to the ridgeline of the main block. The addition runs north-south off of the west gable-end of addition d.

The barn is clad in clapboard and newer horizontal siding painted red. The foundation is concrete block masonry and fieldstone. The roof is covered with asphalt shingles.


Historical significance:

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.

Field Notes

Property was once owned by Silas Deane. Significance: Comstock, Ferre claims to be the oldest continuously operating seed company in the nation. In addition to its main building, fronting on Wethersfield's Main Street, the property includes a large barn, the oldest section of which was probably built sometime between the 1840s and the 1880s. The property is located in the Wethersfield National Register district and the Wethersfield local historic district. Threat: Developer Thomas Coccomo wants to demolish the barn for a new residential-commercial development. As currently planned, the elevations and massing of the new building would be very similar to those of the barn. Wethersfield's historic district commission (HDC) approved the project in June 12, and the planning and zoning commission has indicated that it will defer to the HDC. Some neighbors have appealed to Superior Court; a hearing is scheduled for September 11. Broader issues: Opponents of the project feel that the HDC bent over backward to accommodate Coccomo while hassling homeowners who appear before it over miniscule details. If this contention is supported, there is a danger that the public could lose confidence in HDC's reliability and fairness. What's needed: Careful consideration of the feasibility of reusing the main barn as part of the project. Coccomo has expressed willingness to do this, so Todd Levine and Melissa Antonelli of the Trust made measured drawings of the barn, and Trustee William Crosskey is preparing schematic designs to show how it could be reused in the new development.

Use & Accessibility

Use (Historic)

Use (Present)


Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Demolished

No

Location Integrity

Original Site

Environment

Related features

Environment features

Relationship to surroundings

The barn is a part of a complex of gable-roof structures, the heart of a seed manufacturer. East of the barn and its addition are a series of greenhouses and gable-roof structures that now are the seed factory store. To the south of the store and the barns is a parking lot. The area surrounding the site is commercial and residential.

Typology & Materials

Building Typology

Materials


Structural System

Roof materials


Roof type


Approximate Dimensions

n/a

Source

Date Compiled

07/12/2007

Compiled By

Todd Levine, reviewed by the Connecticut Trust

Sources

Photographs by Maureen Hayes & Todd Levine.

Field notes by Chris Wigren and CPN.

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.

Map of Wethersfield, CT, retrieved on August 28, 2010 from website www.bing.com/maps.

National Register district, Old Wethersfield, 70000719,1970.

Local Historic District - Old Wethersfield Historic District, 1962.

PhotosClick on image to view full file