This barn is noteworthy for its beautiful hand-hewn chestnut post-and-beam frame and the unusual square-plan silo at the northwest corner. The original wagon entry was located on the north elevation. Charles Beardsley conveyed the property in 1858 to Edwin Gregory Seeley, which included both houses and two barns on 66 acres. This structure may be one of those barns, possibly built by Beardsley himself. But, it may also have been built by Seeley, a dairy farmer who maintained a herd of Holsteins. In the early 1970s, the present owner, Michael Wager, purchased the property and began renovating this barn as his residence. The remodeling produced the present assortment of windows (including the south Palladian window, round windows in the gables and picture window in the silo) and patio and deck. He saved the original floorboards and built and installed a loft from the neighboring barn to create an upper story at the east end. Oak planks in the structure were recycled by an earlier owner from an old Roxbury bridge. As of the early 1970s, the property was not being farmed and the barns were empty. The lower level of this one, which is banked to the west, was the milking parlor.
The barn stands on the west side of Painter Hill Road, to the south of the main house. A shed and another barn stand to the south. The site has areas of lawn to the west, with open fields in the distance, and long views to the west. Features include: 50 x 30; peak-roofed barn stands with gable ends to the east and west; main block is banked to the west, where it gains a lower level as it adjusts to grade; square-plan silo (12’ x 12’) with peaked roof rises three stories at northwest corner; projecting entry gable at east
(roadside) gable end; stairs and deck at mid level, west gable end; palladian window dominates south elevation; peak-roofed milk house (14’ x 10’) intersects with main block at southeast corner; fieldstone foundation; hewn post-and-beam timber frame of chestnut (square rule); chestnut floor boards; vertical tongue-and-groove barn board; red paint with blue trim.
This roadside shed, banked into the hillside, was used as a milk house by Bud and Frank Voytershark, who began farming here around 1947, leasing the property. The shed stands on the west side of Painter Hill Road, to the south of the main house; it is flanked by barns. The site slopes west, away from the
road, with areas of lawn to the west, open fields in the distance, and long views to the west. Features include: 14 x 12; 10 x 6; peak-roofed shed consists of main block and small east wing, both set with gable ends to the north and south; overhanging eaves; center door with cross stiles on roadside elevation of main block; similar door on wing; shed adjusts to the sloping grade so that it gains a lower level on the west side; lower-level door in south gable end; vertical tongue-and-groove barn; red paint.
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 to the sides, 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 also 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 on 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.
Before the 1880s, cheese and butter making were usually done on the farm. The milk room or dairy room was often located in an ell between the kitchen and the woodshed. Some farms had separate milk rooms and dairy rooms. In the milk room, the fresh milk was poured into shallow pans placed on shelves or racks. After the cream rose to the surface, it was skimmed off the milk and then churned to make butter. Cooperative creameries were being established throughout New England in the 1880s. Usually located next to the railroad line in villages, these creameries processed the milk of dozens of farmers, who shipped the liquid from the farm to the creamery by wagon in metal cans.
Single-story milk houses are typically attached to [20th-century] ground-level stable barns for preparation of the milk to be sent to the creamery. Designed to comply with state and local ordinances intended to minimize the potential for milk contamination, many are now fitted with large, electrically cooled stainless steel bulk storage tanks.
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.
When chopped cornstalks are compressed to prevent their exposure to the air, the silage ferments instead of spoiling, providing nutritious food for the dairy herd and allowing them to produce milk through the winter. Early silos were built inside the barns, but by the 1890s free-standing silos were being built outside dairy barns. Among the earliest types are square wooden silos with gable roofs. These follow either of two basic designs. Some had horizontal framing members (girts) sheathed inside and out with vertical boards. Others were balloon-frame structures with long vertical studs covered with horizontal sheathing boards. Many had gable roofs, allowing access from the top through a door.
Information from a survey of Roxbury by Rachel Carley. The fine Greek Revival house on this property is thought to have been built by Charles Beardsley (1807-1910) around 1840, who bought the land and an earlier house in 1835. Beardsley was a master builder credited with building the Roxbury Congregational meetinghouse. When he conveyed the property in 1858 to Edwin Gregory Seeley, it included both houses and two barns on 66 acres. The farm was long known as the Pickett Place. It was purchased in 1872 by Michael Pickett, an Irish immigrant, and passed down through his descendants, who were also dairymen. John Pickett was running a dairy farm here in the 1930s. From about 1947 to 1955, Bud and Frank Voytershark leased the farm. In the early 1970s, the present owner, Michael Wager, purchased the property and began renovating this barn as his residence (the c. 1840 house is rented to tenants).
Rachel D. Carley - CH
Carley, Rachel D., Barn Stories from Roxbury Connecticut, Roxbury Historic District Commission/Town of Roxbury/CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, 2010.
Cunningham, Jan, Roxbury, A Historic and Architectural Survey, Roxbury Historic District Commission, 1996-97.
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.