New Hartford has a long agricultural past. Farming in New Hartford has ranged from the classic small New England hill farm to purpose-built dairy farms to modern specialty and truck-farms. Agricultural buildings are purpose-built structures with a wide range of styles generated both by their local vernacular and their use. So, one finds barns built for tobacco, onions, potatoes, sheep, dairy, pigs, poultry, horses, hay, general purpose; and in each region of the country these barns will be built in different local styles. Of course, some barns are specific to a region: tobacco in the river valleys of the east, potatoes in the upper midwest and west.
New Hartford has several extant poultry barns, a few carriage and horse barns, and some large dairy barns. However, the majority of its barns can be classed as general-purpose. These structures usually have a large open floor used for threshing and hay storage, partial lofts for storing other crops, and a separate area for livestock. Usually located close to a house, they have often been re-used as garages and storage. Many of New Hartford’s general purpose barns are bank-barns as this was a popular style for the hill regions of New England. By building a bank barn into the side of a hill, a very functional structure could be created. The upper level could be driven into by a wagon carrying hay or other crops; below a few head of livestock could be kept, also easily driven in. Using the hill as integral part of the structure made building easier and cheaper. Sometimes the lower floor was not high enough to house livestock. In these instances it could be used as a manure pit, making it easy to clean the livestock stalls above and storing the manure for use as fertilizer.
A survey of New Hartford’s extant pre World War II barns was completed last year under the Barn Survey project run by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. This was solely a drive-by survey of barns visible from the public road. The survey can be accessed here: http://www.connecticutbarns.org/survey
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