Building Name (Common)Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Building Name (Historic)Webb Barn
Address211 Main Street
This is a 1 ½ story three-bay, side- or eave-entry barn with two shed-roofed additions. The barn faces east with its ridge line running north-south. The main entry, on the east eave-facade, is a pair of hinged doors in the center bay with a projecting hood above. A weather-door is in the north hinged door. A twelve-over-twelve-pane transom is above the projecting hood in the center bay of the east eave-facade. The south bay of the east eave-facade has a pass-through door in the southern-most corner. The north bay has a pass-through door in the northern-most corner. There is a shed-roofed addition off the north and south gable-facades. On the east eave-facades of both additions is a centered, eight-over-eight double-hung window. The barn has un-painted vertical siding and an asphalt shingle roof.
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.
This barn was erected to replace one that was burned in 1838 in a spate of barn burnings in Wethersfield. The Welles account books make reference to payments for its construction in the years 1844-1847. The building was moved 30 feet to the west in 1919 when the CDs installed a new garden at Webb house. It was converted to a meeting room and Auditorium by the society in 1934. Sketch plans of the building, and the plans for its 1934 renovation, are available from the society.
The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum is the caretaker of another remarkable building besides its houses: the nineteenth-century Webb Barn, located at the rear of the property behind the Colonial Revival Garden. The building serves the museum as a setting for education classes, lectures, meetings and other special events. It is also available for weddings, reunions and corporate gatherings (see Weddings & Event Rentals).
Little is known about the original Webb Barn. It is not mentioned in historic records until after the property was purchased in 1821 by Martin Wells, a lawyer and later a judge in Wethersfield. On March 2, 1840, the Hartford Daily Courant newspaper reported that: “On Saturday morning the barn of Martin Welles, Esq. was burned to the ground, with two horses and a cow….the fire was undoubtedly the work of incendiaries. The citizens have offered a liberal reward for their apprehension.” According to Welles’ receipt book, in June 1840 he started the construction of a new barn -- presumably on the same location as the original.
The present building was moved back 30 feet and has had a series of additions and renovations completed by the Colonial Dames to serve their needs. In the 1930s, three wings on the north, south and west sides were added using iron hardware, wood timbers, and floorboards salvaged from other 19th century barns. The most recent renovations were completed in the mid-1990s. While the Webb Barn today still retains much of its historic ambience and rustic charm, it is spacious enough to accommodate up to 135 people for a sit-down luncheon or dinner and contains up-to-date mechanical systems, restrooms, and a catering kitchen.
NHL Statement of Significance (as of designation - January 20, 1961): In May 1781, this late Georgian house was the site of a five-day conference between General George Washington and the Count de Rochambeau, French commander in America, to plan their offensive against the British. Plans begun during this meeting led to the Yorktown campaign.
The Webb House is in danger of collapse for lack of critical vertical support of its roof and upper floors.The museum has applied for a 2004 grant from the Save America's Treasures program to install a hidden steel support framework.