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Farm Estates

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Glen Road is the northern boundary of what was a contiguous cluster of large farm estates in one of the most beautiful settings on Aquidneck Island, comprising stone-walled fields, magnificent stands of trees, and views across Sakonnet Bay. North to south along East Main and Wapping Roads, the principal farms are The Glen, Oakland, Sandy Point, Greenvale, Vaucluse, and Eastover. One could say that today these properties fall between two extremes: those centered in retirement and those centered in management.

Greenvale and Eastover fall into the first category. The landscape theorist Robert Morris Copeland could have been describing John Barstow and his Greenvale in Country Life (1859): “Owners of country seats in America are generally men who have retired from active business, and by having a farm connected to their homesteads, they secure something to do and think about, and thus avoid the evil of mental inactivity.” In fact, Barstow acquired a copy of Copeland's book for his library the year before he purchased Greenvale. Eastover should perhaps be regarded as a summer residence with incidental farming. The other four farms incline toward the other category. They were large-scale farms, primarily management operations, specializing in the breeding of animals. The owners of Oakland and Sandy Point, who were members of the Vanderbilt family, had their principal residences elsewhere and visited only sporadically, mostly on “show” occasions. Hence their properties most decidedly represented the management ideal. Moses Taylor, who owned The Glen, and a succession of owners of Vaucluse had major houses on these properties and were in residence a good portion of the time. They therefore mixed the ideals of country seat and managed farm. Whatever the style of operation, these idyllic agricultural fiefdoms continued, for the most part, into the 1980s, although farming had been at best desultory on most of the properties for some years previous, except for the care and breeding of riding horses. Development is presently underway, especially on portions of the three northernmost farms and on Eastover. The town of Portsmouth purchased much of The Glen in 1989 for open space.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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