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Rokeby Farmhouse

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c. 1790, 1814, 1893. 4334 U.S. 7
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

Open seasonally to the public, Rokeby is now a house/farm museum of the life and times of the Robinson family of Ferrisburgh. It is the best-documented property associated with the Underground Railroad north of the border states and is a good example of the evolved nineteenth-century farmhouses found throughout Vermont.

Quakers Thomas and Jemima Robinson of Newport, Rhode Island, occupied the farm beginning around 1792 and eventually became active in the Ferrisburgh and Vermont antislavery societies. Their son, Rowland Thomas Robinson, also was an abolitionist. Associated with the Quaker antislavery network, he boarded, schooled, and provided paid employment to runaway slaves. This picture of African Americans working openly as farm laborers in Vermont contrasts starkly with the lurid images of “hidey-holes” and “escaping-from-the-hounds” often associated with “stations” on the Underground Railroad, especially in the border states. As a documented Underground Railroad site, the Robinson house does not have any of the “secret” rooms, rooftop “signal stations,” or “escape” tunnels imagined at many undocumented sites. Several of the slaves known to have stayed at Rokeby likely slept in the ell upper chambers along with other hired labor.

The evolution of the farmhouse is readily apparent outside and in. The rear ell can be discerned as a Cape-type dwelling, built before the Robinsons' arrival. In 1814 Thomas Robinson added the front section, a two-story I-house with parlors and airy second-story bedrooms. In keeping with their religious beliefs, this addition is relatively plain, though it did have the deep, gabled front porch with benches seen today. Rowland Evans Robinson, a prominent Vermont author and artist, added the one-bay, two-story gable-front addition at the south end of the I-house in 1893, which resulted in the unique long eave and small-gabled main facade of today.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Rokeby Farmhouse", [Ferrisburgh, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 110-110.

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