Barn-turned-home shares Kent’s dairy history
KENT — From the 1800s to the 1950s, dairy farming was the prime profession in town, with farmhouses and cattle covering the countryside.
The home at 391 Kent Cornwall Road, now referred to as the Barn at Kent Falls, still contains elements of the former dairy farm built there in 1900. The home has since been renovated and converted into a updated home.
“The entry hallway is a whimsical greeting featuring the original dairy stanchions,” said Ira Goldspiel, listing agent for the property.
Interior renovations helped repurpose the barn. “Exposed hand-hewn posts and beams frame the rooms and contribute to the overall charm,” Goldspiel said.
Most of the living and dining spaces, as well as the kitchen, are on the main level. The second floor has four bedrooms and two renovated bathrooms.
The master bedroom has a winding staircase up to a loft, as well as a walk-in closet and master bath. The original three-story silo has been refinished and its windows offer views of the 14.7-acre property, which has perennial and vegetable gardens, as well as a pool.
The Housatonic River and Appalachian Trail run along the back of the property and Kent Falls State Park is across the street. “I really love the Litchfield Hills area for its classic New England charm and beautiful scenery,” Goldspiel said.
Like the house, Kent has a rich connection to the dairy industry.
“Where we now have tidy subdivisions with fancy houses and manicured grounds, there were once cows, hundreds of them,” according to the Kent Historical Society’s website. “Maybe thousands of them.”
The dairy industry took off after World War I, replacing tobacco as the big crop.
Planting tobacco became less popular in Kent because it was difficult to get post-war workers to tend to the labor-intensive crop, according to the historical society.
Dairy farms became more popular as the demand for dairy products increased and the technology to preserve and transport the milk improved. Farmers could ship their milk on the railroad to people in the cities who couldn’t have cows.
Creameries were built near the railroad stops to collect and process the milk. Later, the milk could be shipped directly from the farm to the railroad’s milk platforms where they were loaded on the daily milk train, according to the society’s website.
Kent capitalized on the higher prices the butterfat produced, and so Guernseys, Jerseys and Holsteins were popular dairy cow breeds at local farms.
“Dairy farms, already common in Kent, quickly spread throughout the town, some small, some large, but all feeding a growing population of city dwellers who could not keep the necessary cow or two in their backyards,” according to the historical society’s website.
The Kent Cornwall Road property is on the market for $1.08 million.