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Olney Manton–Pardon Hunt–Cyrus Farnum Farm

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c. 1795. 479 Putnam Pk.

The classical door frame of this two-and-one-half-story, central-chimney house is exceptionally sophisticated for a farm. The fluted Doric pilasters, cushion entablature, and denticulated pediment are all correct and handled with great breadth. (It is so elegant that the missing capitals are easily overlooked! Were they never installed, or did they rot away without replacement?) Elegant, too, are the simple framing of the five-bay arrangement of windows in the compact elevation, the careful alignment of the first-floor window caps with the base of the swelling cushion molding for the entrance entablature, and the molded roof cornice. Such sophistication implies a cultivated client who doubtless considered his “farm” a “country house.” Of the three owners with whom this house is associated, Cyrus Farnum is the best known, as a large landowner in the area who served in both houses of the state legislature. To the rear of the typical five-room plan are ad hoc additions—a storeroom, well shelter, and second flight of stairs. Hence the functional, workaday aspect behind contrasts with the formal, ceremonial approach in front, as is usually the case, but particularly so here. The same dialogue between functional arrangement and formal order appears in the distribution of the mostly later nineteenth-century outbuildings in weathered shingle and white trim—two barns (one containing facilities for slaughtering, the other for blacksmithing), two henhouses, a corn crib, and a privy. They are conveniently clustered, but all roughly ordered in parallel alignment to the basic rectangularity of the house. So are the stone walls, which beautifully partition the site into working and living spaces. The interiors (not open to the public) have seen only minor modifications and contain much original woodwork and hardware. Of all the early upper-middle-class farms in Glocester this is probably the most handsome, and self-consciously so.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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