~ Vermont Grand View Farm ~
A Step Back in History
Living on an old hillside farm brings an awareness of the hard work and love that past generations have poured into it. Grand View Farm, one of the earliest farms in the town of Washington, dates back to its initial purchase by Asa Bacon in January of 1794. According to family tradition, Asa and a brother came to Washington from Brookfield, Massachusetts, built a log cabin, sowed and planted a few crops, fenced them in, and returned to Massachusetts to gather their families. When they returned, they found that an animal had broken down the fence and destroyed all their crops except the potatoes, which were all they had to eat that winter except for the game the men could kill.
The left, original side of the current house was constructed before there was a circular saw mill in the village of Chelsea, around 1820. The farm remained in the Bacon family until 1858, when it was sold to Charles Abbott, passing later to his granddaughter and husband, Mac Royce. Under the stewardship of the Abbott and Royce families, the farm grew into a diverse agricultural homestead. In 1875, a sugar house was added to a growing number of barns and out buildings. The following
year, they produced the first maple syrup, much of which was sold to a hotel in Portland, Maine. Other sources of income came from apples, potatoes, turkeys, hay, wool and butter. They also hired out for logging, mowing, plowing, grave digging and the use of machinery.
In 1885, the Abbotts began accumulating materials to build a new house. Logs were taken to the mill in Chelsea, and they began to quarry and split granite blocks for the cellar walls, which were dragged to the building site by oxen team. With the new house finished, they attached the old house by its side and used it mainly for storage of firewood and grain for the animals. With the completion of the house in 1887, they named the property Grand View Farm.
The farm sold as a vacation home in 1960 to the Green family, and sold again to the Birch family in 1985.
Grand View Farm Today
With a desire to become involved in Vermont’s agricultural history, we purchased the farm in 2004. As a homeschooling family, we wanted our children to experience life on a farm. As the fourth family to own Grand View Farm in the past 220 years, we worked hard to reestablish its rich agricultural history. When we moved in, the barn had not seen animals for over 50 years. Bringing a small flock of sheep with us to the farm, we built fences and shelters, and enriched pastures. We reclaimed the gardens, and apple trees that had been neglected, and built a hoop house to extend our growing season. Today, we grow much of our own food for our family and a few neighbors.