Many visitors to the new building have asked about the antique wood used throughout. There is a fascinating story behind the wood and we will be highlighting its history in a two-part article beginning with this issue of Down to Earth.
Part I covers the posts and beams, and Part II , the wood used in the flooring and wainscoting. Next time you are in the building take a good look at the wood … some of it may be close to 400 years old!
Part I Antique Posts and Beams from Milk Can Corners
The antique posts and beams installed in New Pond Farm’s Indoor Learning Center came from one of the barns surrounding Milk Can Corners located near Hallstead, Pa. in Susquehanna County. The barn was built in 1791 by CS Perkins who migrated to the area from New Haven, Connecticut in 1784.The original part of the barn was built as a granary and over the years was expanded as the property evolved into a dairy farm which continued until 1958. The barn was dismantled, salvaged and put in storage until 2005, when it was given new life on our farm.
Early Settlement of Susquehanna County
The first settlers to Pennsylvania came from Vermont around 1754. During the period up to the Revolutionary War, there were still relatively few people who had made their way to the wilds of Pennsylvania, as the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers proved major obstacles. However, after the Revolutionary War, the French and Indian Wars and the War of 1812, some people wanted a new life for their families, away from the wars and they began crossing the major rivers and pushing westward. First settlers to the Milk Can Corners area were predominantly from Vermont, Connecticut and New York. Most had been farmers who brought seeds with them when they migrated and they started out their new life growing grain and other crops. Some families also brought a cow and a few chickens for milk and eggs and, over time, the area became a dairy producing region. Once the railroads moved into the area, grain mills sprang up along the rail routes.
Milk Can Corners
Milk Can Corners grew up near the intersection of Franklin Hill and Presbyterian Hill and was the place farmers would bring their milk cans to be picked up by the stagecoach drivers and delivered to market. Ice would be cut from the rivers and lakes in the winter and stored in ice houses. The ice would then be cut into smaller pieces and packed around the milk cans to keep the milk cool during its trip to market. Because of the milk cans sitting at the intersection waiting to be picked up, the place became known as Milk Can Corners. The Perkins family farm was located nearby.
In the 1950’s, the federal government changed regulations covering transportation of milk, requiring it to be moved in bulk tanks rather than milk cans. Many farmers could not afford to build a new dairy room or to purchase the expensive equipment required for gathering milk into a refrigerated bulk tank. The changed regulations, combined with the difficulty of finding hired hands once the Vietnam War was underway, lead many dairy farmers, including the Perkins family, to abandon farming.
Benedict Antique Lumber and Stone, of New Milford, PA purchased the barn from Tom Perkins, Sr., a great, great grandson of CS Perkins, in late 2004 and installed the antique posts and beams in the Indoor Learning Center in 2005.