Building Name (Common)Mason-Knowlton Farm Part 1 of 2
Building Name (Historic)Mason-Knowlton Farm
Address185 Old Turnpike Road
This is a 2 ½-story eave-entry bank barn with a secondary gable-entry. The main façade faces southeast and the ridge-line of the barn is parallel to Old Turnpike Road, which at this point runs approximately northeast to southwest.
The main entry is a single sliding door off-center to the east. To the east and to the south of the main entry is a six-pane window on each side. The grade along the southeast eave-façade of the barn declines revealing a basement level. On the basement level of the southeast eave-façade of the barn is a side-hinged pass-through door off-center to the south and to the east of the door is a six-pane window. Just above the pass-through door and window are two evenly spaced six-pane windows in the south half of this side. Located directly above these are two more six-pane windows. On the east half of the southeast eave-side of the barn are three evenly spaced six-pane windows, two of which are placed directly above the six-pane windows on the main level, and one placed above the sliding door.
On the basement level of the southwest gable-end of the barn there is a pair of sliding doors, which act as a secondary entrance to the barn. The remaining southwest gable-end of the barn is blank.
The grade of the northwest eave-side of the barn begins to incline back toward the main level and reveals a small portion of a field-stone foundation. The basement level of the northwest eave-side of the barn consists of an eight-pane window off-center to the west. On the main level, evenly spaced in the north half of this side are three six-pane windows. Above this row of windows, but located in the west half of the barn are two six-pane windows. In the upper portion of the northwest eave-side of the barn are five six-pane windows centered above each of the lower level six-pane windows, in the same manner as the main façade.
The northeast gable-end of the barn is blank.
The barn is covered in vertical siding painted grey. The roof is covered in asphalt shingles. The foundation is field-stone.
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 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 New England barn or gable front barn was the successor to the English barn and relies on a gable entry rather than an entry under the eaves. The gable front offers many practical advantages. Roofs drain off the side, rather than flooding the dooryard. 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. In this case, both an eave entry and a gable entry are used.
The 19th century would see 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.
The site dates back to the 1820’s when it was owned by Joseph Tinney, who is presumed to have built the current house on the site. The property was acquired in 1864 by Charles Mason. Mason operated the site as a working farm and also owned and operated the nearby Gurley-Mason Mill which produced lumber. The property was inherited by his son Charles Mason, who was by trade a craftsman and no-longer continued active operation of the site as a working farm. The farm was inherited by his daughter Eva Belle Mason and her husband Henry Knowlton. Mrs. Mason-Knowlton operated an antiques business from 1912 to 1982 in which time she used the barns on the site for storage of her collection. Mrs. Mason-Knowlton died at the age of 101 in 1983. Since that time the history of the site and the main house have been recorded by the local Mansfield Historical Society.
This barn is a good example of how new approaches to barn building affected existing structures. This barn was apparently built prior to the wide acceptance of bank barns, or was originally anachronistic. When this building type became widely accepted, and the barn was seen to be too small, a banked addition was added to the more traditional English barn type.
The barn sits behind the house with which it is associated at the back of a cleared area not far from the Fenton River.