This is a 1 ½ -story gable-entry shed. The ridge-line of this shed is perpendicular to River Boulevard which runs roughly north-south. The east side contains a central pair of hinged doors. This shed utilizes the vertical siding ventilation system where alternate boards are hinged along the sides to open like tall narrow doors. The barn is clad in unpainted vertical flush-board and the roof is covered with asphalt shingles.
The tobacco barn, or shed as it is called in the Connecticut River Valley, is one of the most distinctive of the single-crop barns. They tend to be long, low windowless buildings with pitched roofs. They are characterized by vented sides to regulate air flow and allow harvested tobacco to cure at the appropriate rate. Derived initially from the design of the English barn, the shed is composed of a fixed skeleton consisting of two- or three-aisle bents repeated at intervals of 15 feet to the desired length. The wood-framed bents sit on piers of stone or concrete and the bents are connected by girts and diagonal braces. Typically there are two doors at each end, making the shed a “drive-through,” although some sheds are accessed through doors on the sides. The interior structural framework serves a second purpose in addition to supporting the walls and roof of the building; it provides a framework for the rails used to hang the tobacco as it cures.
This is accomplished with one of four different systems (more than one method may be utilized in a single shed):
a) Vertical siding in which alternating boards are hinged at the top and tilted out at the bottom by means of a horizontal cleat that lifts many boards at once and metal prop hooks to hold the boards in place,
b) Vertical siding in which alternate boards are hinged along the sides to open like tall narrow doors,
c) Less commonly, horizontal siding in which alternate boards are hinged along the top edge and open like long narrow awnings,
d) A series of large doors along one of the long sides of the building with the other sides of the building vented by one or more of the other methods.
This shed is located on a 14.30 acre property that is located on the west side of River Boulevard about a tenth of a mile north of the intersection with Burbank Avenue. The lot is bounded by a 15 acre lot containing crop fields to the north, a residential lot and a 5 acre lot containing crop fields to the south, and five small residential lots that front on East Street to the West. This lot also encompasses a small residential lot against River Boulevard on the east. A turn-of-the-twentieth-century house is located on the lot about twenty feet from River Boulevard just south of the encompassed lot. The ridge-line of the house runs east-west. A two-car hip-roof garage is north of the house. A grassy lawn surrounds the house with minimal landscaping. The tobacco shed is directly west of the house. The rest of the property is used as crop fields. This lot has a view of the Connecticut River, which is located east of the shallow lots on the east side of River Boulevard.
Melissa Antonelli, reviewed by the CT Trust
Photographs by Henry Hanmer.
Capitol Region Council of Governments, GIS Viewer, http://www.crcog.org/gissearch/.
Map of Suffield, CT, retrieved Aug 27, 2010 from website www.bing.com.
McAlester, Virginia & Lee, A Field Guide to American Houses, Knopf, New York, 1984.
O’Gorman, James F., Connecticut Valley Vernacular: the Vanishing Landscape and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
Sexton, James, PhD, Survey Narrative of the Connecticut Barn, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Hamden, CT, 2005, http://www.connecticutbarns.org/history.
Vision Appraisal Online Database. www.visionappraisal.com/SuffieldCT. Map 85/Block 54/Lot 26.
Visser, Thomas D., Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, University Press of New England, 1997.