Building Name (Common)Massaro Farm
Building Name (Historic)Massaro Farm
Address41 Ford Road
Inventory of structures (C – contributing, NC – non-contributing): House 1927 C Barn I (Gambrel) 1927 C Barn II (Stone) 1931 C Shed III 20th c. C
Barn I – Gambrel barn:
This is a 1 ½-story Dutch gambrel-roofed ground level stable barn, 32’ x 60.’ The ridge-line is oriented east-west. The structure is partially banked into a grade which slopes down toward the east, such that the cow stable floor is entered at grade mid-way along the north and south eave-sides. The foundation and lower walls of the stable level are constructed of cast-in-place concrete. There is a crawl space below the concrete floor, accessible from the southeast corner where the grade is lowest. Prior to conversion to CSA farming, there was a wood-stave silo and a 1-story shed, probably the milk room, attached at the west end of the barn; these have been demolished. The original siding was green hexagonal asphalt shingles. Following renovation, the new siding is vertical wood, painted red with white trim. The roof has overhangs at the rakes and eaves, and is asphalt shingles.
Exterior: The west gable-end faces the road. It has a double door at ground level, and two four-pane windows in the attic gable just below the purlin line. The center area was formerly where the silo abutted the barn wall. The south eave-side has the concrete foundation wall up to sill height. A row of seven six-pane hopper-type stable windows is equally spaced along the wall above the foundation, with a single door between the second and third from the left (west). A cellar crawl-space is accessed via a large opening near the right (east) corner. A shed dormer in the lower roof pitch is located off-center toward the left (west) and has an eight-over-eight double-hung window. A metal roof ventilator is on the center of the ridge-line. Two banks of photo-voltaic solar panels are on the upper pitch of the roof. The east gable-end has the concrete foundation to below the window sills and a pair of hinged doors at the center flanked by six-pane hopper stable windows. These doors exit several feet above the grade which declines toward the east; it is unclear what the original configuration may have been, although the opening was used for discharge of manure. Above at the loft level a four-pane window is located near each of the outer corners, just above the line of the flared pitch of the roof. High in the attic is a large multi-pane picture window, filling an opening which was likely a former hay door opening. The north eave-side is similar to the south, with three six-pane hopper windows in the left (east) portion of the wall, a blank section near the center, and a pass-through door followed by two six-pane windows at the right end. Grade inclines from left to right. A shed-roofed porch has been newly constructed for use by the CSA for harvest preparation.
The barn exhibits characteristic features of a purpose-built ground level stable barn of the early 20th century. The width of the barn at 32 feet is sufficient for two rows of cows, in this case facing out toward the windows. The two lines of posts support longitudinal girders carrying the floor joists for the loft level. Concrete flooring has gutters for cleaning and there were metal stanchions for the milking cows – a few of these have been preserved as a historical exhibit, along with the suspended manure trolley which was arranged to unload manure via the east doorways. The concrete lower walls were considered optimal for durability in this type of barn. The evenly-spaced hopper windows on both side walls provided ample light for the cows and for milking. At the loft level, a four-foot knee wall is integrated into the design of the scissor truss roof framing system. Major trusses constructed of sawn dimension lumber are placed every ten feet, with minor trusses at two feet on center. Pairs of trusses meet at the ridge forming a clear interior span. Tension cabling has been added to stabilize the span. At the ridge-line, the track for a hay loading system remains, although the original hay doors have been removed. Cribs along both sides protect the floor openings for pitching hay to the cows below. At the gable-end walls, diagonal braces are let in to the walls and triangular trusses extend perpendicular to brace the height of the framed end walls. A new stair opening has been created to provide access from the lower level. The floor is wood planks, and the roof ventilator can be seen through an opening in the roof framing.
Barn II – Stone barn:
This is a 1 ½-story structure 22’ x 25’ with the ridge-line of its gable roof oriented north-south. It is constructed of concrete and cobblestones; it appears as if the concrete was formed with cobblestones added into the forms, although it may have been laid up as cobblestone masonry with very thick mortar infill. Window and door openings have concrete lintels and sills. The masonry and concrete walls terminate at the eave-line, and the attic gables are wood-framed with dimension lumber. There are two six-over-six double-hung windows in each of the east and west eave-sides, and one in the north gable-end. A wide opening in the south gable-end is now filled by an overhead garage door; the lintel has the date “1931” formed into the concrete. The attic gables have two two-pane windows in each of the north and south ends, while the south gable-end also has a pass-through or hay door at the center, extending down to the top elevation of the door lintel. The gable-ends are sided with wood shingle siding. The roof has overhangs at the eaves and rakes, with exposed rafter tails, and is asphalt shingles. The east and west exterior walls show marks where sheds were formerly attached. The windows and roof are deteriorated and awaiting planned renovations. The interior is unfinished and used for storage. A steep open-riser stair in the southwest corner leads to the loft level.
• Historical or Architectural importance:
Applicable Connecticut State Register Criterion: 2. Embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction.
The 1868 Beers, Ellis, & Soule map of New Haven County shows H. Cooper at the site; no census records confirm the family name. John Massaro immigrated in 1899 at the age of 18 and worked as a railroad laborer in Bridgeport for a few years (U.S. Census, 1900). By 1920 he lived at this farmstead and was listed as 37 years old, a “general farmer” in Woodbridge. With him were his wife Mary B., age 32, and two sons Antonio and Luigi, ages seven and three (U.S. Census, 1920). The house and gambrel barn are said to date from 1927, although part of the foundation appears to be 18th-century and thus may be a remnant from the Cooper or other earlier ownership. The stone barn has its date of 1931 cast into its door lintel. In 2007 John and Tony Massaro gave their farm to the Town of Woodbridge. Competing proposals suggested recreational use for ball fields, or use as a community farm on the Community Supported Agriculture model. Members of the Town Conservation Commission researched the feasibility of restoring the main barn and establishing the CSA. With the assistance of grant funding from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation for feasibility studies, and an Agriculture Viability Grant from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and with support from Woodbridge First Selectman Ed Sheehy, other town officials, and many community volunteers, the barn was restored in 2010 and the farm established. A professional manager trained as an organic farmer is assisted by CSA members.
The Massaro Farmstead, with its two barns, is significant as a substantially intact representative of the type of small family farm operated by Southern and Eastern European immigrant families in the early 20th century. Typically, the immigrant families took over properties that were previously subsistence farming operations of the ethnically English settlers of the previous centuries. The wave of first- and second-generation farmers, in this case Italian American, participated in the shift of farming to a commercial economy providing dairy and poultry products to nearby industrialized cities such as Bridgeport and New Haven. The farm structures at 41 Ford Road have been preserved and restored, with interior changes to adapt to re-use for organic farming rather than dairy cows. Although the silo and milk house are gone, other artifacts of the dairy farm period have been carefully preserved. The typical construction technology of the ground level stable barn is intact and can be observed at both the exterior and interior. An early 20th-century style of construction with cobblestone masonry is also represented in Barn II and the front porch of the farmhouse.
In addition to preserving the historic structures of the early 20th century, the continuation of working agriculture at the Massaro Farm perpetuates a form of living history in the Town of Woodbridge, where agricultural heritage has been largely replaced by residential development.
Listed on the State Register of Historic Places 5/01/2013
The Massaro Farm was deeded to the Town of Woodbridge in the second half of 2007. The house and barns on the property date back further than 1931. There are two barns: one stone and one Wisconsin style. Both need repair but are still mostly sound. www.massarofarm.org/wp/ The website of the Massaro Community Farm, a non-profit group farming the land as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The group has done some oral history interviews with mid-20th century farmers. Repair of the barn is underway as of 11/1/2009. Several structures that are visible in the Google Map aerial view, have been demolished.