Inventory of structures (C – contributing, NC – non-contributing):
Farmhouse c. 1900 C 28’ x 33’
Horse barn (English barn) c. 1900 C 30’ x 40’
Tobacco shed/Tobacco museum Early 20th c. C 35’ x 120’
Tobacco shed/picnic shelter Early 20th c. C 30’ x 105’
Tobacco shed/nature center Early 20th c. C 30’ x 195’
Tobacco shed/maintenance Early 20th c. C 30’ x 90’
Tobacco shed/animal barn Early 20th c. C 35’ x 90’
Tobacco shed/field barn I Early 20th c. C 40’ x 180’
Tobacco shed/field barn II Early 20th c. C 30’ x 150’
Tobacco shed/field barn III Early 20th c. C 30’ x 180’
Tobacco shed/field barn IV Early 20th c. C 35’ x 160’
Tobacco museum archives 1989-92 NC 40’ x 80’
Warming shed 20th c. NC 30’ x 90’
Barn – Tobacco shed/Tobacco museum:
This shed is an eight-bay three-aisle gable-roofed structure with its ridge-line oriented north-south. It has been converted to a seasonal museum displaying exhibits on historical tobacco farming. The vertical wood siding has been replaced and secured, but the long iron hook and eye fasteners and the horizontal battens for tilting open groups of alternate boards to ventilate the shed, have been re-installed. Along the lower edge between the truncated pyramidal concrete foundation piers, narrow vertical siding has been infilled for weather-tightness where originally the spaces would have been open or had top-hinged shutters. In each of the north and south gable-ends a pair of hinged doors provides access to the museum, and is similar to the original type of wagon doors, though not as wide or tall. Siding is painted red. Roofing is asphalt shingles.
The interior is a typical early 20th-century type of timber frame structure with two interior posts at each bent and a network of tie-girts and diagonal braces of dimension lumber secured with bolted or nailed connections. The multiple horizontal ties also function as supports for the rails upon which the tobacco leaves were hung to cure.
Lighting and a concrete slab floor have been installed for the display area.
Northwest Park, its landscape, its extant tobacco sheds, and the Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum, are significant as an ensemble, because they preserve an agricultural landscape and the record of its agriculture under public ownership. The site, because of its sheltered position encircled by the Farmington River on three sides and the continuing maintenance of the mowed fields, retains the open landscape in which the iconic tobacco sheds stand tall and long. Only the plants, poles and shade cloth are missing to re-create the cultural landscape of the tobacco farming period of the early 20th century.
The museum has preserved both a typical tobacco shed structure and the artifacts and photographic record of tobacco production which has been an important component of Connecticut agriculture and a cash crop for many farmers. The tobacco growing environment occurred in the Connecticut River Valley and also in the Farmington and Housatonic River valleys, where the same type of glacial lake sediment created the flat intervale lands where tobacco has been grown successfully. The efforts of the founders and supporters of the Tobacco Historical Society have preserved this representative example of a type of agriculture.
In addition, the history of this site as a family farmstead, of the Langs and Klosses in particular, is a contributing example of the history of immigrant farmers, in this case from Switzerland and Germany, which changed the character of Connecticut agriculture in the early 20th century.
Listed on the State Register of Historic Places , 4/03/2014. http://www.tobaccohistsoc.org/index.htm The John E. Luddy/Gordon S. Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum collects, preserves, researches, exhibits, and interprets the scope of the tobacco industry in Tobacco Valley, which stretches from Portland, Connecticut, along the Connecticut River Valley through Massachusetts and the lower tip of Vermont. The museum seeks to preserve the artifacts and history of cigar tobacco agriculture before it is completely gone from the valley and to increase public awareness of the importance of the economic, political, and social impact of the tobacco industry on the history of this valley. The Connecticut Valley Tobacco Historical Society was formed in 1988 to help preserve the artifacts and history of the cigar tobacco agriculture before it is completely gone from the valley. This society became the beneficiary of a trust fund set up by John E. Luddy who earned his money from selling shade cloth and other items needed by growers. The Connecticut Valley Tobacco Historical Society in turn made a grant to the Town of Windsor to be used for a tobacco museum at Northwest Park. The resulting Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum consists of two structures. First, an existing tobacco curing barn was remodeled to accommodate exhibits of early and modern equipment used to grow the crop. Second, a new, year-round facility was built to exhibit photographs, writings, and other documents about the crop.
In the northwest corner of the town, Northwest Park sits in a northward loop of the Farmington River that encircles the park land on three sides. Rainbow Dam, at
the northernmost point of the river, forms a reservoir along the west edge of the park.
The village of Rainbow is located across the river to the northeast while Poquonock is situated along Poquonock Avenue (Rte 75) at a crossing of the Farmington just to the east of the park. Northwest Park is reached via Lang Road, which runs north from Prospect Hill Road, an east-west road that intersects Poquonock Avenue.
Northwest Park is a 473-acre property assembled from a number of parcels purchased by the town over a ten-year period in the 1970s. Most of the land had been used most recently for growing tobacco, and a number of tobacco curing sheds remained. Of the nine sheds extant today, five have been adaptively re-used while four are vacant.
A cluster of tobacco shed structures that have been re-used stand near the c. 1900 farmhouse and its associated horse barn. These include a picnic pavilion, nature center and the Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum. A new archives building stands to the west of the museum and a warming shed (for skiers) is to the east. Additional field barns are scattered to the north and east. A soccer field and dog park have been developed near Field barn I, while Field barns II-IV can be seen by walking on the six miles of hiking trails or bicycling on old farm roads.
The Farmhouse is a 2 ó-story vernacular Queen Anne-style building with a steeply-pitched hip roof and projecting gable-roofed bays on the west and south sides. A wrap-around porch shelters the entry on the west side. Lang Road formerly ran along the south and west sides of the house, ending as a farm road extending northward. It has been re-routed around the east and north sides, so that today the west front façade faces a green space forming a courtyard for the nature center and museum. The Farmhouse has been re-sided with vinyl siding, and is used as staff housing.
Northeast of the Farmhouse is an English barn which appears to have been a horse barn or carriage barn for the farm family. It is a 1 1/2-story three-bay gable-roofed structure with its ridge-line oriented east-west. A sliding door in the center bay of the south side is typical for an English barn. Another sliding door is off-center to the right (south) in the west gable-end. There is a pass-through door in the east gable-end and several window openings which appear to have had double-hung sash. Siding is wood clapboards with corner board trim, roofing is asphalt shingles, and the foundation is cobblestone masonry. To the southeast is a small low hip-roofed structure that appears to have been a springhouse. North of the Farmhouse and west of the English horse barn is the modern maple sugar house, a gableroofed
Charlotte Hitchcock, reviewed by CT Trust
Photographs and field notes by Charlotte Hitchcock 7/23/2013.
Interview with Brianna Dunlap, Assistant Curator, 7/23/2013, at the site.
Town of Windsor Assessor’s Records and GIS Viewer: http://info.townofwindsorct.com/gis/
Parcel ID: 15/135/22, 15-136-16, others.
Aerial views from:
http://maps.google.com/ and http://www.bing.com/maps/ accessed 8/31/2013.
Historical aerial photography and maps accessed at UConn MAGIC:
USGS Historical Maps accessed 8/31/2013 at http://historical.mytopo.com/ .
Cunningham, Jan, Connecticut’s Agricultural Heritage: an Architectural and Historical Overview, Connecticut Trust
for Historic Preservation & State Historic Preservation Office, 2012.
Friends of Northwest Park web site, http://www.northwestpark.org/ accessed 8/31/2013.
Luddy/Taylor Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum
web site, http://www.tobaccohistsoc.org/ accessed 8/31/2013
museum literature including brochure, timeline and history of Northwest Park and tobacco farming (1988).
Sexton, James, PhD; Survey Narrative of the Connecticut Barn, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation,
Hamden, CT, 2005, http://www.connecticutbarns.org/history.
U.S. Federal Census, accessed at http://persi.heritagequestonline.com/hqoweb/library/do/census/search/basic
Visser, Thomas D., Field Guide to New England Barns & Farm Buildings, University Press of New England, 1997.