Historic Recognition Sought for Ives Property

This article published in the March 29 issue of the Cheshire Herald, and reproduced below, examines the Ives Farm bid for Historic Recognition, an “important step in opening the door to funding opportunities for restoration of [the] farm buildings.”

The Boulder Knoll property could have historic significance as well, especially regarding the old barrite mines. The Friends will be closely following this process and wish the Cheshire Land Trust luck in their endeavor.

 Historic Recognition Sought

by Leslie Hutchison
Herald Staff

Copyright 2007, The Cheshire Herald, All Rights Reserved.

Historic homes abound in town, but the Bradley/Ives House has the distinction of being the only one on Cheshire Street still located on its original acreage. The 1730 farmhouse is also one of the oldest on the street, a significant designation in a neighborhood chock full of 18th century structures.

The Bradley/Ives house may soon receive another accolade: a listing on the State Register of Historic Places. After Betty Ives donated her farm to the Cheshire Land Trust last summer, the group began the process of applying for inclusion on the state register.

To assist in that process, the land trust applied for, and received, funds from the state’s Historic Preservation Technical Assistance Grant. The $3,000 grant allowed the land trust to hire Nina Harkrader, a historic building consultant, to document the historical significance of the 164-acre Ives farm and its buildings.

The grant document noted that achieving state register status would allow the land trust “to offer a measure of recognition and protection to the farm buildings on the site.” It will also “be an important step in opening the door to funding opportunities for restoration of these farm buildings.”
At the annual meeting of the land trust on March 20, Harkarder presented information on her ongoing research. She said the documentation process requires her to “consider the physical evidence of change over time – buildings are rarely static.” Harkrader commented on what she discovered during a tour of the farmhouse earlier this year, when she “found some important clues” about the home’s original construction.

That information includes “the size and the way the rafters are prepared” in the attic. The wood has “hewing marks” from hand tools. Even more significant, Harkrader noted, are the existence of “scribe marks” that indicate the wood was cut so “each piece would fit each joint” in the rafters.
A scribe mark was used to make sure the rafters were installed in the right order. Because rafters were often hewn at another location, workers scratched a number into each beam to show the builder in which order the rafters should be placed. For the Ives attic, workers used Roman numerals to determine the order. Harkrader said she found scribe marks in the attic that ascended from numbers from “I” to “VI.”

When land trust member Jeanné Chesanow inspected the property earlier this year with Harkrader, the two confirmed there are “layers of history” in the house and buildings. Harkrader stated, “the trick is deduce from physical evidence” what is original to the structures. “Basements and attics show the least amount of changes,” she added.

During the inspection, they also noticed a fireplace had been adapted to contain a metal stove. “A metal smith had made (the stove) match” the original mantle that was decorated with pilasters. “It’s a nifty piece of metal,” Harkrader said.

Other discoveries include a beehive oven in the summer kitchen and floorboards in the home that are two feet wide, indicating very large trees were used for construction.

Conducting historic research is like putting together “a puzzle” Harkrader noted. “It’s detective work.” She added, “It’s like a kaleidoscope, you pull all the pieces together to get it in focus.”

In an article for the land trust’s March newsletter, Chesanow wrote that the farm was originally owned by the Lyman Bradley family. Three other Bradley brothers, who also lived on Cheshire Street, were all tinsmiths. She noted, “Their business was run out of small buildings here and there on the street, one location being just south of the present Ives farm.”
Chesanow continues to delve deep into census records and land deeds about the area. “You see sociologically, as time went on, the Ives family did better and better.” She found the homeowners had “a live-in servant” in the 1870s, probably from Ireland, and also a German immigrant who worked as a farmhand.

The application for the state registry is “a little more than half way” complete, Chesanow stated. She expects the 20-page document will be finished in May. After that, “it takes about one year, once it’s submitted” for a ruling on the application to be made. 

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