Barns of New York

Barns of New York: Rural Architecture of the Empire State

Cynthia G. Falk
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Barns of New York
    Book Description:

    Barns of New York explores and celebrates the agricultural and architectural diversity of the Empire State-from Long Island to Lake Erie, the Southern Tier to the North Country-providing a unique compendium of the vernacular architecture of rural New York. Through descriptions of the appearance and working of representative historic farm buildings, Barns of New York also serves as an authoritative reference for historic preservation efforts across the state.

    Cynthia G. Falk connects agricultural buildings-both extant examples and those long gone-with the products and processes they made and make possible. Great attention is paid not only to main barns but also to agricultural outbuildings such as chicken coops, smokehouses, and windmills. Falk further emphasizes the types of buildings used to support the cultivation of products specifically associated with the Empire State, including hops, apples, cheese, and maple syrup.

    Enhanced by more than two hundred contemporary and historic photographs and other images, this book provides historical, cultural, and economic context for understanding the rural landscape. In an appendix are lists of historic farm buildings open to the public at living history museums and historic sites. Through a greater awareness of the buildings found on farms throughout New York, readers will come away with an increased appreciation for the state's rich agricultural and architectural legacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6398-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xxiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    For eighteen-year-old George S. Buckmaster, whose family commenced building a barn in the spring of 1855, the construction of the new structure provided lessons in geometry, woodworking, stonemasonry, accounting, and of course time management. The Buckmasters had recently relocated from Brooklyn to New Windsor in Orange County, and work on the barn had to be balanced with other tasks. The Buckmasters grew a host of fruits and vegetables—strawberries, plums, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, muskmelons, grapes, asparagus, celery, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, beans, lima beans, peas, beets, cabbage, corn, pumpkins, and potatoes—and kept cows, hogs, and chickens. George, the third of...

  5. Chapter One Diversity, Dairying, and Designing the Main Barn
    (pp. 21-68)

    In 1859 Moore’s Rural New-Yorker held a contest to find the best barn, one recognized for “not only the beauty of the structure, but the greatest amount of convenience, cheapness, and adaptation to all the wants of the majority of farmers.” In announcing the winners, the selection committee noted, “We can but remember the few years ago when through the whole country one barn was the counterpart of another, 30 by 40 feet, with a bay on one side and a stable and granary on the other, covered with unseasoned, rough boards, open and uncomfortable; and it is gratifying to...

  6. Chapter Two Sheltering the Flock, Processing the Product
    (pp. 69-106)

    When the new farm manager arrived at Grasslands, the Westchester County estate of William Cochran, on October 20, 1900, he immediately set to straightening up the cottage where he would live, unpacking his trunks, and even hanging pictures. The next two months, documented in a daily diary, were full of activities more directly related to the farm. While the Cochran property was unusual among New York State farmsteads because of its scale, the variety of activities that went on there was not atypical. In a single day, the new manager reported working on an icehouse for cooling milk, repairing the...

  7. Chapter Three From Haystacks to Silos
    (pp. 107-134)

    In mid-July 1869 Edward McFetridge was getting ready to hay. His parents, Archibald and Jane, were Irish immigrants who had established a sizable farm in Sparta, in Livingston County. Twenty-nine-year-old Edward, still single and living at home, was becoming a farmer in his own right, and he recorded his activities in a daily log. On July 14 he documented a noteworthy event: he bought a “grab and hook” for a hay fork, a device that would use the power of a horse to raise the hay into his family’s “big barn.” By that evening he was cutting holes at the...

  8. Chapter Four A Farm Building for Every Purpose
    (pp. 135-182)

    While Reuben Lamb’s prayer in 1881 on his fifth-sixth was for heavenly wisdom, he did his best to ensure that he possessed worldly knowledge as well, especially when that knowledge could help him improve his Niagara County farm. Lamb cut out and saved newspaper articles on killing potato beetles, ants, and worms and making black ink, cement for repairs, and white sugar candy. But most of the clippings he pasted in the front and back of his diary were about fruit farming. He collected advice on using salt to keep worms away from apple trees and peach tree borers away...

  9. Chapter Five Powering the Farm
    (pp. 183-202)

    A memoir written by Jane Lawliss Murphy, filled with anecdotes about growing up on a farm in northern New York in the World War II era, attests to the transformation of agriculture and rural life in the twentieth century. When she was a child, her father physically transformed their West Chazy farmstead by enlarging the barn, building a silo, and adding a milk house. Family members milked the purebred Holstein cows with a milking machine and hauled full milk cans to the roadside, where they were picked up by a truck to be taken away to the cooperative dairy. Much...

  10. Places to Visit
    (pp. 203-226)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 227-252)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 253-258)
  13. Further Reading
    (pp. 259-260)
  14. Index
    (pp. 261-268)