Both the bank barn and the north end of the ell appear to be of scribe-rule construction, suggesting a date of the early 1800s or possibly the late 1700s for the oldest parts of this barn. The English barn and/or the north part of the ell is likely the barn mentioned in the 1859 will of Samuel Wright. In the early 20th century, the south section was used by the Bunnells as a horse and wagon barn. The family had three workhorses, and in the spring they would pick up a fourth to make two teams.
The cow barn (lower level of the bank barn) originally had wood stanchions. By about the 1930s the Bunnells had 27 cows. In the 1940s they expanded to 60 cows and added on to the barn to accommodate the larger herd. The east section of the barn was torn off in the summer of 2007.
This barn consists of two sections that form an L-plan: the larger 2-story bank barn to the north (set with gable ends to the east and west), and the one-story (plus loft) section that intersects with the southwest corner of the bank barn, thus forming an ell with its gable end to the south. The south section was built in two stages. The part adjoining the bank barn (approx. 19 feet) and resting on a fielsdtone foundation, is the oldest, and is framed with hand-hewn timbers, probably chestnut; the curved, yoke-like girts over the west window and east door are especially notable. Planks more than 12’’ wide form the loft floor. The south gable end of the ell stands on a concrete foundation and is built with milled framing members. Set on a fieldstone foundation, the bank barn to the north displays the traditional English barn format with rolling doors centered on the north (long) wall to provide access to the haymow. The framing is hand hewn with rafters rising to a ridge beam; the floor is laid with wooden boards. The upper hay barn is notable for the size of the hewn timebrs (one tie beam is at least 12.” Wide (up to 18” boards) form the rafter sheathing. The lower level is a stanchion barn constructed with cinder block walls, dimensional millwork and a concrete floor. This is a modernized interior within the older barn.
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. The 19th century saw 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 or side-hill barn is characterized by the location of its main floor above grade, either through building into 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.
Listed on the State Register of Historic Places 2/19/2014. Other materials: Vertical board (tongue and groove). Historic use: Horse/wagon/hay/cow barn. Style: English bank barn with ell.
Set on the east side of Maple Street (north of Milton Road), this L-shaped barn is located a few yards to the east of the house; the main bank barn section stands on a site that slopes to the east. Silos to the northeast and to the southeast. Milk house to the south. The driveway entering on the south side of the house passes back to the barn running on the south side of the ell. Fields open to the east.
Litchfield Tax Assessor Records
Interview with Harold Bunnell 8/07
Sexton, James, PhD, Survey Narrative of the Connecticut Barn, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Hamden, CT, 2005, http://www.connecticutbarns.org/history.
Visser, Thomas D., Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, University Press of New England, 1997.