This well-maintained chestnut-framed barn is a fine example of the gable-end type, which first appeared in Roxbury around the 1830s. The overhanging eaves, steep roof pitch and high ridge line are Victorian features, suggesting the building was erected in the second half of the 1800s, perhaps by Nathan R. Smith (b. 1811)—although it could be older. Smith was the nephew of the Hon. Nathan Smith (1767-1835), who built the c. 1790 Georgian house on the property. This barn is a sole survivor of a larger grouping that once included at least four other structures (see photo, Roxbury Bicentennial Calendar). When the present owner moved two horses to the barn in 1997 she added a sink and interior plywood sheathing and converted the garage to a dog kennel. The windows are probably early 20th-century additions. No structural changes were made to incorporate the horse stalls. The embossed tin roof shingles, which date from the first half of the 20th century, are a notable feature. The barn stands on the north side of Church Street, behind and to the north of the house. It is a primarily open, flat site, with a paddock to the north.
Features include: 42 x 26; peak-roofed barn stands with gable ends oriented to the north and south; roller doors on exterior mounts centered on south gable; single garage door bay at northwest corner; two windows to right (south) enclosed; hewn post-and-beam frame (chestnut); concrete floor; box stalls; vertical tongue-and-groove barn board; yellow paint with white trim.
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 sides, rather than flooding the dooryard. With the main drive floor running parallel to the ridge, the size of the barn could be increased to accommodate larger herds by adding additional bays to the rear gable end. 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, as both types continued to be built.
Information from a survey of Roxbury by Rachel Carley. Located in the Roxbury Center National Register and Local Historic District.
Rachel D. Carley - CH
Carley, Rachel D., Barn Stories from Roxbury Connecticut, Roxbury Historic District Commission/Town of Roxbury/CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, 2010.
Cunningham, Jan, Roxbury, A Historic and Architectural Survey, Roxbury Historic District Commission, 1996-97.
Plummer, Dale S., Roxbury Center National Register Historic District Nomination No. 83001271, National Park Service, 1983.
Sexton, James, PhD; Survey Narrative of the Connecticut Barn, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Hamden, CT, 2005, http://www.connecticutbarns.org/history.
The Roxbury Historic District Commission, Roxbury Past & Present: A Survey of the Evolution of Roxbury Center’s Historic District and Walking Tour, 2007.
Visser, Thomas D.,Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings, University Press of New England, 1997, 213 pages.