Francestown program, tour focus on history found in NH barns
FRANCESTOWN -- Barns can tell a great deal about the history of New Hampshire—about the people who settled here, where they were from, and the type of farming they chose to sustain them.
In Francestown, six historic barns that have been preserved offer a timeline of life in the Granite State, and this weekend they'll be open to the public as part of a special tour.
The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and the Francestown Improvement & Historical Society will host a lecture and tour of the six barns on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at the Francestown Meeting House.
The first part of the program will feature John Porter, co-author of "Preserving Old Barns," who will give an illustrated lecture on "The History of Agriculture as Told by Barns."
"John will show the progression of barn architecture through the centuries in New Hampshire," said Beverly Thomas, program associate at the Preservation Alliance and coordinator of the tour. "These timber-frame structures help tell the story of the region's diverse agricultural history from subsistence farming of the 18th century, through the sheep boom, to the late 19th century when dairy became the major New Hampshire industry."
Following Porter's talk, Frank Hanchett of the Francestown Barn Survey Committee will discuss the architecture of barns found specifically in Francestown. He and the committee conducted a town-wide barn survey to document the history of more than 80 barns in the small community.
"After learning about the history of the barns," said Thomas, "people will be able to go out and see it for themselves."
The self-guided tour, which begins at noon, takes participants to different examples of barns, the oldest dating back to the late 1700s, and the newest from the 19th century. Some of the barns are still being used for agriculture including one where the sixth generation of family farmers is hard at work today.
Others have been converted to different uses, but their historical integrity has been carefully preserved, Thomas said.
"The barn owners are just so proud of these places," she said. "They don't see themselves as owners of the buildings, but rather the stewards who are charged with preserving these barns for the next generation."
Cost for the program is $30 for members of sponsoring organizations; $40 for non-members. There's a $5 discount if purchased today (July 23). An optional boxed lunch is available for $8 (must also be purchased today).
For more information or to register call 224-2281 or email admin@ nhpreservation.org.