Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2015 Preservation Award Winners
Towne Farm, Boxford

Towne Farm • Boxford

Landscape Preservation, Rehabilitation & Restoration

The sensitive rehabilitation and restoration of the Towne Farm in Boxford has preserved a remarkable collection of historic agricultural buildings, as well as seventeen acres of land. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Towne Farm includes a ca. 1790 farmhouse and barn, and a 1.5-story carriage house, constructed between the barn and the farmhouse around 1858. The three-story farmhouse is a fine example of Federal-period architecture, with a center chimney, two parlors, a kitchen with a hearth, and three bedchambers. The barn, with its hand-hewn framing, was originally built in the English style, and converted in the mid 19th century to the New England style by Henry A. Towne. The carriage house originally stored grain, cordwood, and carriages, and served as farmhands' living quarters in the 20th century; its second floor retains exposed king-post trusses. The property also includes a 1907 water tower and a utility shed that was moved to the site ca. 1900. The shed became part of the farm's water system, and incorporated a windmill that pumped water up to the tower.

In 2009, with the property under threat of demolition by a residential developer, Boxford resident Christine Barensfeld purchased the Towne Farm and undertook a significant restoration and rehabilitation of its buildings and structures. The project team's skilled craftsmen and preservation experts rehabilitated the farmhouse and its outbuildings to the highest standards. Aluminum siding was removed from the farmhouse to reveal historic wood sheathing, which was replaced in-kind. All historic wood windows were restored, and the interior's historic paint and wallpaper were researched. The team returned the carriage house to its historic condition and configuration, guided by an image from the late 1800s. Here, too, aluminum siding was removed, and original vertical sheathing was repaired, while windows were reinserted in the original locations based on framing and sheathing evidence. The barn's lightly framed, canted-purlin support system, added in the mid-1800s, was supplemented to improve its support of the large roof. The water tower was repaired and its roof replaced. The owner has also kept the property's seventeen acres in agricultural and woodland use. She offers ecologically sensitive farming workshops and opportunities to the local community, including hosting programs in meditation, yoga, art in nature, and music. Through the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, two farmers were given the use of one acre for five years. The large-scale restoration of the Towne Farm has created a wealth of resources for the community while preserving a landscape and buildings that reflect the region's proud agricultural heritage.

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