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Dame Farm

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Late 18th century. 1910, barn. 1925, silos. 91 Brown Ave. (operated by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; open to the public)

As farms go, no one could make a spectacular claim for this one. It has special interest, however, as a family farm continuously worked by the Brown family from the eighteenth century through the 1970s, when it passed to the state Department of Environmental Management, which continues its operation as a typical family farm for educational purposes on the edge of Snake Den State Park. It is worth noting that something once so common has acquired “museum” status.

The house is a perfectly plain, eighteenth-century type, with windows regularly placed in asymmetric arrangements; but it is commanding in size, and made more so by an in-line one-and-one-half-story ell off one end. A large gambrel dairy barn, shingled overall, with a pair of cylindrical wooden silos (now rare in the state), dominates the farm complex. But what is it that makes the complex seem so integral as a group? The house is set in the middle of a large field in an angled relationship to the roads around it, while all the outbuildings roughly respond to the orientation of the house. Hence the dynamic quality of these basic but varied shapes: overtly shifting in diagonal relationships but covertly ordered by their underlying alignment.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Dame Farm", [Johnston, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 172-172.

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