Barn Record Suffield

Building Name (Common)
Phelps-Hatheway barn
Building Name (Historic)
Phelps-Hatheway barn
55 South Main Street, Suffield


Historic Significance

Architectural description:

This is a 1 1/2-story, eave-entry, bank barn with a gable-entry and a gable-roofed addition. The main facade faces east and the ridge-line of the barn is parallel to this portion of South Main Street, which runs approximately north-south. The main entries are two pairs of identical, double-height hinged doors with trim in the east eave-facade. One pair of doors (entry I) is off center towards the north and the other (entry II) is nearly centered in the south half of the facade. Both have what appears to be blacksmithed, wrought-iron hardware and both have weather doors in the south leafs. Both entries have thirteen-pane transoms above as well as heavy, scroll-bracketed hoods. To the north of entry I are two evenly spaced double-hung, six-over-six windows with trim. Between entry I and entry II are two pass-through doors with trim. The north door has wrought-iron hinges on the south side of the leaf and the south door has wrought-iron hinges on the north side of the leaf. Both have four-pane transoms above. South of entry II, just before the beginning of the addition, is a pass-through door with wrought-iron hinges and trim on the north side of the leaf and a four-pane transom above. The grade slightly declines from north to south, revealing the mortared field-stone foundation. Small sets of stairs are required to access the main entries in the east eave-facade; there are no stairs for the pass-through doors. Attached to the south gable-side of the barn is a gable-roofed addition.

The north gable-side of the barn has a centered pair of double-height hinged doors with what appears to be blacksmithed, wrought-iron hardware. A weather door is in the south leaf. The entry is accessed by a set of wooden stairs. Above the entry is a boarded opening with a lintel. Beneath the apex of the roof is a set of two, one-over-one, double-hung, round-arched windows with trim and a lintel.

The west eave-side of the barn has a pass-through door towards the north corner and a pair of double-height hinged doors with what appears to be blacksmithed, wrought-iron hardware towards the center. South of this door the grade declines sharply, revealing a basement level. A mortared field-stone retaining wall extends to the west at the drop. South of the retaining wall in the basement level is an exterior sliding door with a hooded track. Further south are two six-over-six double-hing windows and a pass-through door with wrought-iron hardware at the south corner. Above in the main level, centered in the gable-roofed addition, is a pass-through door with a set of two, one-over-one, double-hung, round-arched windows with trim. At the south corner of the west eave-side of the addition is a set of two six-pane windows.

The south gable-side of the barn is mostly encompassed with the gable-roofed addition, which extends south. Still visible in the south gable-side of the barn is a set of two, one-over-one, double-hung, round-arched windows beneath the apex of the roof.

The eave-facade of the addition is flush with the eave-facade of the main structure and the clapboards that sheath both are contiguous. The grade continues to decline forcing the bottom of the addition to be lower than the main barn. The gable-roofed addition has three bays. The north bay on the east-facade has a pass-through door with wrought-iron hinges and trim on the north side of the leaf and a five-pane transom above. The door is slightly larger than the four-pane transom doors. The middle bay and the south bay have pairs of double-height hinged doors with trim and lintels. Centered beneath the eave in each bay is a three-over three window with trim. Beneath the middle bay appears to be a six-pane horizontal window. The only bay with stairs for access is the south bay. The south gable-side of the addition has a door with a gable-roof flanked by six-over-six double-hung windows. The grade at the south gable-side of the addition inclines to meet the grade at the east eave-side of the addition.

The structure has clapboards painted gray with white trim on the east eave-facade, north and south gable-ends; the west side of the structure has board-and-batten siding painted gray with white trim. The roof has projecting overhangs with fascia and asphalt shingles. The foundation is mortared field-stone.

Historical significance:

Listed as a contributing resource in the Hatheway House and Suffield Historic District National register of Historic Places nominations.

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.

Field Notes

Altered example of extended English barn adaptively reused as museum. From the Suffield HD nomination: The Hatheway House has several outbuildings. A long barn (not a tobacco barn) parallels the street north of the house. Between the barn and the house is a Victorian carriage house that has a gable over three round arched doorways, similar to the barn at 145 South Main Street. In the south yard there is a Palladian summer house. An elaborate wood picket fence separated the house from the street. Each post of the fence is a structure in rusticated sides and molded caps over dentil courses. From the Hatheway nomination: Carriage house and stable, southwest of the house ~ This small frame structure presents three open bays to the street. The bays are flanked by pilasters and surmounted by a rained wooden roll moulding, capped with a mock keystone. A small pediment in the eave line is opened by a semi-circular lialit treated similarly to the stall openings. Centered in the gable end is a circular light with spoke and wheel muntins Coach house, northwest of the house - ThJs frame structure is of more recent construction than the smaller carriage house and stable to the south f hut it reiterates that outbuilding; in form and ornamentation* The coach house presents a sharper and higher appearance, however. Barn, north of house - The barn is a tony frame structure in two sections, built In the mid-19th century, The barn Is plain, with four larege doors in the front facade and numerous other small doors and windows. Individually listed as the Hatheway House on the National Register of Historic Places. Also located in the Main Street Local Historic District and the Suffield National Register Historic District.

Use & Accessibility

Use (Historic)

Use (Present)

Exterior Visible from Public Road?




Location Integrity



Related features

Environment features

Relationship to surroundings

The barn is behind and to the northwest of house it is associated with. The ridge-line of the house is parallel to the ridge-line of the barn. To the east of the house and barn is a white picket fence fronting South Main Street. Just south of the barn and to the northwest of the house is a gable-roofed structure with a gable dormer. South of the house is a three bay wagon shed. To the west of the barn is dense woodland. The total size of the site is 7.46 acres. The area surrounding the site is residential and woodland.

FGR5 Garage w/Loft - G 792 S.F. 
BRN4 Barn 1 St w/Loft & Bsmt 1824 S.F.
GAZ Gazebo 792 S.F.

On land owned by A&L, part of museum complex.

Typology & Materials

Building Typology


Structural System

Roof materials

Roof type

Approximate Dimensions

70ft by 30ft


Date Compiled


Compiled By

Todd Levine, reviewed by the Connecticut Trust


photographs and field notes by Nina E. Harkrader.

Sexton, James, PhD; Survey Narrative of the Connecticut Barn, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Hamden, CT, 2005,

Visser, Thomas D.,Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, University Press of New England, 1997.

Vision Appraisal Online Database.

Map of Suffield, CT, retrieved on Aug 22, 2009 from website

The Capitol Region Council of Governments website.

Brockmeyer, Christine B., Register of Historic Places Nomination #369915, 1975 Hatheway House. Item No. 75001934 NRIS (National Register Information System)

Ransom, David, National Register of Historic Places Nomination #380356, 1978, Suffield Historic District. Item No. 79003750 NRIS (National Register Information System)

Local Historic District - Main Street Historic District, 1963.


PhotosClick on image to view full file