Brown’s Ridge Family Farm in Wolfeboro has a wonderfully typical example of a c. 1820 New England barn. The 40' x 100’ gable-front barn is the main barn on the property, which also includes an 18thcentury farmhouse, stables, and several other small outbuildings. Justin Brown secured an assessment grant from the Preservation Alliance, made possible by the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign, to map out a plan for the barn’s repair and conversion to a new use.
We’re highlighting this barn and farm as the third of our 52 Barns in 52 Weeks because of the significance of the place, and the owners’ commitment to the stewardship of their historic building as they use the old barn to augment their business plan.
The current owners have traced the history of the property to some of the area’s earliest settlers, the Browns, who established a tavern on the site and later built the current house around 1770. The property was in the Brown family until the mid-20th century. After changing hands four times between 1954 and 2016, it is now owned and cared for by another Brown family.
These new Browns have established Brown’s Ridge Family Farm, a small-scale working farm and educational center. Visitors come regularly to meet the farm’s donkey, goats, horses, alpacas, sheep, bunnies, ducks, bees and chickens. Other activities on the farm include summer camps, and pony and hay rides.
The Browns are looking to add to the visitor experience by restoring the barn and offering it as an educational and recreational center, where visitors can learn about agricultural history in the region, and about farming in the 21st century. The barn will serve as visitor’s center and function hall for private farm-themed parties or public events, as well as workshops on topics such as sheep shearing and blacksmithing.
Realizing that before rehabilitating the barn they would need to understand it better, the Browns applied for an assessment grant from the Preservation Alliance. They were awarded a grant to have a preservation contractor do a site visit and prepare a working document that will help the owners map a plan for the barn’s preservation, repair and conversion to new use. Oliver Fifield of Canterbury conducted the assessment, and noted the barn’s good condition. “The frame really is in great condition. It's nice to know the Browns will continue its use as an agricultural building,” he said. Fifield, a graduate of North Bennet Street School's Preservation Carpentry Program, works on his own and with his father, master carpenter Steve Fifield. He is committed to the use of traditional materials and techniques.
This barn is the third to be highlighted as part of the Preservation Alliance's 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign. The goal of this 2017 initiative is to help at least 52 barn owners across the state with assessment grants, assistance in securing tax relief, and educational opportunities to help save their historic barns. Throughout the year, barns and their owners will be showcased by the Preservation Alliance to celebrate good work and offer practical information and inspiration to others.
We are grateful to all of our donors to date, and encourage others to add their support with an investment in the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks campaign so we can do more!
You can follow and encourage the restoration of the barn and the Brown’s Ridge Family Farm events on Facebook, Instagram, and on their website, http://www.brownsridge.com.