Weantinoge labors to save a piece of the town's heritage Efforts underway to salvage Smyrski farm's historic barn
Efforts underway to salvage Smyrski farm's historic barn
Published 11:05 pm, Monday, August 31, 2009
Weantinoge Land Trust's efforts to restore a 19th-century red barn at the former Smyrski farm in the Merryall section of New Milford have not gone unnoticed.
An anonymous woman who cares about protecting the town's heritage donated $15,000 for the restoration as a challenge gift.
Last week, Weantinoge celebrated the receipt of a $6,500 matching grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. That leaves $13,500 the trust still needs to raise through private donations and fundraising. Replacing the barn roof is expected to cost at least $30,000.
The barn's somewhat haggard appearance strewn with cobwebs and dust along the original wood beams does nothing to diminish its charm. To local preservationists, it's a rough gem, a throwback to the town's agrarian roots which, were it to disappear, they say would be a community tragedy.
A year ago, the 205-acre Smyrski farm, with its breathtaking views and natural habitats around the West Aspetuck River, was bequeathed to Weantinoge.
The land trust has pledged to keep a portion of the property as a working farm. Eighty-five acres are now leased for Black Angus cows to graze and other fields are farmed for hay.
The trust recently received a $50,000 grant to build a wildlife reserve over the next decade, with a portion of the money used to restore some 20 acres for native birds.
The trust spent $21,000 to purchase the farm's barns, with the intent of restoring them to their former glory.
Weantinoge is working to restore the red barn -- its most immediate need being a new roof and the removal of peeling shingles. Trust staff have already cleared out much of the barn's old equipment and debris.
"It would be a shame to lose a heritage like this," area farmer Curtis Ek said.
"I think this is just fabulous," she said. "The Smyrski farm is a great example of how local land trusts can preserve our historical integrity."