As Topsmead evolved over the years, the buildings were an integral part of its operation. Today several remain while many are now gone. Some were built to meet specific needs; others were acquired along with property purchased. This month is the second of three reflections on this topic. I’ll describe most of Topsmead’s structures so you can get a better sense of what the estate was like during the time Miss Edith lived there.
In August of 1928, Miss Edith purchased the Buell farm, (about 46 acres) from George Buell. At that time I believe there were the horse barn and the cow barn, plus two houses, the farmhouse (which stands today across from the current parking lot) and the cottage, (relocated across Buell Road) across the driveway from it. I don’t know if there were any other buildings there at that time. Miss Edith began refurbishing the cow and horse barn immediately. The farmhouse became the home for the manager of Topsmead Farm. Extensive improvements were made in 1935 when the dairy was added to the south side of the house and an enclosed porch to the west side. The cottage across the driveway became the home of gardener, Decimo Simoncelli and his wife Marion until the early 1940’s. It was then rented to the Abrahamson family from November 1942 until about April 1951. After that, it became the maid’s cottage as there was no longer enough room for them in the front section of the farmhouse.
There were two other buildings at the farm, the oil shed, and the big equipment shed I don’t know when they were constructed, but they were there when we were children. The oil shed was next to (left of), the three-car garage which was built in 1929 to house Miss Edith’s personal automobiles. In the front section was a modified Ford Model A which was converted to a road roller, used to smooth out the dirt roads. The rear end of the car was converted to a concrete steel drum driven by a chain drive. The rear end of the oil shed housed all of Dad’s lubricants and parts for maintaining the equipment at the farm. The big equipment shed was opposite the cow barn and housed the big 2 1/2 ton, dump truck; the Clevetrack tractor; the sprayer; the Fordson tractor; a plow and harrow; snow plows, and the smaller truck.
In 1932, a maintenance shed was built to the east of the horse barn. It was used to store all the hand tools and small equipment such as lawnmowers, roadside trimmers, etc. needed to repair or maintain buildings, equipment, or grounds.
In 1934, our house was built around the three-car garage. It was designed by Fred Webster and was meant for summer use only, having no cellar, or central heat. It had a crawl space for a basement and a combination oil cooking and heating stove in the kitchen, a fireplace in the living room, and an oil stove in the upstairs hall. All of these buildings still exist. The Topsmead Unit DEEP supervisor currently uses the living room in our house as his office.
In 1943 a chicken coop, designed by Fred Webster, was built to the south of the cow barn. It contained two sections. One housed the newest chicks, the other, the one-year-old chickens.
In 1944 a new pig enclosure and farm incinerator were built across the road from the barns and shed, keeping any scents away from the farm proper.
In 1945, a turkey enclosure was built to the south and east of the maintenance shed. It housed about 25 turkeys each year thereafter.
In 1953, a small sheep shed was built.
Then in 1954, the picnic shed was moved from Terryplace to the field behind our house.
In 1958 this was replaced by a new shed added on to the south side of the equipment shed, and the tractor road had to be shifted slightly southward to accommodate it.
Finally, in 1956, a small coop was built to the west of the chicken coop to house a few doves which were to be raised for squab. This adventure only lasted a short while. This was the last building added to the farm complex. All the small animal sheds etc. are no longer there.