Circa 1790 In 1898 E.E. Cummings’ family made Joy Farm their summer home. E.E. Cummings died here in 1962. He wrote about his childhood:
“when my soul – my self’s own self –
wasn’t wandering pasture & woodland,
its home was the barn. Savagely hand-hewn
timbers(held together,as nearly as I could
discover,by sheer love; with a wooden peg
now& again for luck)supported this dark big
coolish haven of enchantment.”
Joy Farm is located in Lot 80 of the North Division of what used to be Eaton, now the Silver Lake portion of the Town of Madison. This reference is to the range lots laid out on the original Proprietor’ plan of the area as surveyed by James Hersey in 1781.
The site has been a farming homestead since prior to 1800 and for much of the 19th century it was known as the Henry Hatch homestead. The farm remained in the Hatch family until 1885 when it was purchased by Ephraim Joy. Although Mr. Joy owned the farm for only six years, the property has been known as “Joy Farm” since his ownership.
The barn has features indicative of the period of its construction in the 1790s. Although not an “English” barn with the main door on the eaves side, the timber framing of this barn does exhibit the complex “English Tying joint” at the intersection of the roof rafter, the wall plate, wall post and the eaves cross beam. These joints are secured with the hardwood pegs described in E. E. Cummings’ poem.
Note that the roof boards are nailed vertically to the purlins which connect the principal rafters. Additionally, the main door is offset on the gable end of the barn, with a larger bay on the north side of the door to accommodate hay storage and the small bay on the south side for the stabling of animals.