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Maine Memory Network

Farm-yard Frames

Text by Jeanne Finley

Images from Garland Historical Society, Patten Lumbermen's Museum, Androscoggin Historical Society and Maine Historical Society

The idea of connecting farm buildings -- houses, barns, and other structures -- began in the early 1800s, and peaked about 1865, after the Civil War.

The concept was so popular that owners of pre-1800 farms moved existing buildings or built new ones to conform to the pattern.

Farm buildings became a frame about the main yard, housing the various aspects of farm labor and increasing the efficiency of farm workers.

The farm-yard, the barn-yard, and the back-yard all were separate functional areas. A hundred years ago, when 85 out of every 100 people lived on farms, it was an environment and a nomenclature well-known to all.

"The group of roofs, big and little, span and lean-to, would present the appearance of a small, crowded village," Byron D. Halstead wrote (Barns, Sheds and Outbuildings, Brattleboro: Stephen Greene Press, 1977.) The front driveway was the main street of this "village" and the farm-yard was the village square.

The farm buildings framed the yard, and the work radiated from the yard into all the essential areas.