This barn, house and connecting buildings were built by Jotham Harmon, a wealthy landowner, in the year Madison became a separate town from Eaton. This farm is an excellent example of the unique New England custom during the 19th century of connected farm architecture. Although very popular and prevalent in this area of New England, it is a method of construction that is limited to this geographical location (western Maine and northeastern New Hampshire) and not utilized in other parts of this country.
Although the Kennett farm house and barn were built at the same time, more typically farmers moved barns and other buildings from different areas of their farm into this connected alignment. According to Thomas Hubka in his wonderful book, “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn”, the connected farm arrangement did not come about because of the New England winter weather. Rather, having the house and the barn connected by intermediary building(s) used as shops, permitted farming activities to be supplemented by “home” industry products for home consumption and commercial sale.
This 1852 barn is also indicative of a period when barns were constructed to be architecturally complimentary to the main house. Note the orientation, size, complementary eaves and Doric pilasters of the barn in relation to the main house. Great architectural symmetry has been maintained throughout the connected buildings. Further, unlike the older barns on the tour, this barn building has the door centered on the gable end; it has windows along its southern side to provide light for the animals stabled on that side of the barn; and, it has a hay loft with trap doors to permit easy lowering of the hay into the animal’s feed bins. Large openings on both ends of the second floor accommodate loading of hay and allow cross ventilation of the whole hayloft area. The Kennett barn did not need a cupola. When compared with the older barn structures, all these features provide a window into the evolution of the barn building during the course of the 19th century.
This remains a working farm today with horses, chickens and a generous vegetable garden. Not long ago used as a Bed and Breakfast Inn, the farm is currently a private residence which has been lovingly restored. Keep your eyes open for the unusual barn cat! And ask to see the large wooden pegs used to secure the drop plate joints through out this barn.