Building Name (Common)Arethusa Farm- Calf Barn (Part 3 of 3)
Building Name (Historic)Arethusa Farm
Address556 South Plains Road (Rte 63)
Enlarged in stages, this barn consists of five main sections and assorted small corners and shed additions. The east section served as the Webster horse barn, connected via an alley through it. Cows were housed in the west end, hay above in the loft and wagons in the other end. The two oldest sections stand with the gable ends oriented to the east and west. A peak-roof wing of the same eight intersects roughly at the center of the structure, projecting south. The barn further extends with a lower section to the east, and a second north-south wing extends from the southeast corner. The long north façade is interrupted by a 2-story section with its gable ends rising above the lower east wing and oriented to the east and west. From the barnyard, the dominant portion of the barn is the west gable end, which is symmetrically composed with a central door and hinged loft doors (cross stiles) set directly above. Two multi-pane windows flank at each level and double vents are set under the peak, where there is a triangular hood. The interior has a concrete floor; this wing and the south adjoining wing is lined with calf stalls facing a center aisle.
This rambling barn, altered over the years by the Webster family, now serves Arethusa Farm LLC, a dairy and pedigreed stock farm established in 1999 using the old name. The structure is particularly notable for incorporating an old barn that existed when Charles Webster bought the farm in 1868. That barn constitutes the north section (about 30 x 40)), and has been converted in part as an apartment. During the Webster era it was used primarily for hay and also held wood stanchions for 10 cows.
The next oldest section is the south wing, added in 1914 to provide room for 20 cows. A 1929 barn raising resulted in the larger addition to the west, which provided room for 14 cows and some calving stalls. The loft was used for hay and the other end of the structure held wagons. Arethusa Farm had a closed herd, to prevent Bang’s disease, and sold their milk raw until 1940. Despite their care, an outbreak of the disease occurred, so the Websters began to send the milk out for pasteurization, first at the Julian Schwabacher Farm in Bethlehem, and later in Watertown. By this time, Arethusa was operating two delivery routes, handled with a panel truck and a pickup, driven by Ben Webster. The barn was again rebuilt in 1955, when it was enlarged to the east. The east section held stalls for the Websters’ two teams of Belgian workhorses and connected via an alley. There were more than 60 tie stalls during the last phase of the Webster ownership. By the 1970s about 75% of the milk was homogenized. By this time, Arethusa had a milk truck. The lean-to shed on the south side was added to make headroom for the new vehicle.
In 1981 The floor of the west portion was lowered about three feet after the farm was sold in order to adapt the barn for horse stalls, which were added at that time. More modifications were made in 2006 by the current owners to accommodate as many as 80 calves in individual and group pens. During the Webster era the barns were painted gray.
By the early 20th century agricultural engineers developed a new approach to dairy barn design: the ground-level stable barn, to reduce the spread of tuberculosis bacteria by improving ventilation, lighting, and reducing the airborne dust of manure. A concrete slab typically serves as the floor for the cow stables. Many farmers converted manure basements in older barns into ground-level stables with concrete floors. Some older barns were jacked up and set on new first stories to allow sufficient headroom. With the stables occupying the entire first story, the space above serves as a hayloft. By the 1920s most ground-level stable barns were being constructed with lightweight balloon frames using two-by-fours or two-by-sixes for most of the timbers. Novelty or tongue-and-groove beveled siding is common on the walls, although asbestos cement shingles also were a popular sheathing. Some barns have concrete for the first-story walls, either poured in place or built up out of blocks.
The gambrel roof design was universally accepted as it enclosed a much greater volume than a gable roof did, and its shape could be formed with trusses. Also see entry for Pole Barn.
The term dairy barn is used as early as the 18th century (along with “cow house”). Modern dairy barns are characterized by their interior arrangements of stanchions and gutters to facilitate milking and the removal of manure. In some cases this is just a few stalls in the corner of a barn, in others it can be a large barn dedicated to that single purpose.
Materials: Vertical board (tongue and groove) siding.
Historic use: Hay Barn/Cow/Horse Barn.
Present use: Calf Barn.
Rachel Carley State Historic Resource Inventory record lists this property as Webster Road with no number.