Habitat: Roxbury Colonial home was once a tobacco farm
ROXBURY — The owner of the home at 197 Apple Lane knows his house is centuries old, but just how long ago it was built he said he can’t be sure.
The house, a four-bedroom Colonial, was built before Roxbury officially became a town.
“We’re unable to ascertain the exact date because the town was not (incorporated until 1796),” homeowner Chuck O’Rourke said. “That’s when it was put on the records, but it was built prior to that.”
Town historian Kurt Youan said the house isn’t the only one in Roxbury built before the town’s incorporation. Settlers began arriving in Roxbury as early as 1672, Youan said, and slowly bought the town’s land until the early 1700s.
Roxbury spent most of the 18th century as a part of Woodbury before it was incorporated in 1796.
The home is unique, at least for the area, though, in that it started as a large tobacco farm, Youon said. A historic tobacco barn was on the property but it burned down five years ago.
“There’s a couple (tobacco barns) in town, but on Apple Lane specifically, they were mostly tailors, blacksmiths, hatters and farmers,” Youan said.
The style of the barn was similar to tobacco barns from around that time in Litchfield County, Youan said.
“If you walked into the barn, the tobacco smell upstairs was overwhelming, even though it is many years past them raising tobacco on the farm,” he said.
The property’s second historic barn still stands, though it has been converted into a garage, O’Rourke said. The barn had been used to keep horses and carriages.
Other clues to the home’s past can be found in the main house. The home is two houses that were bolted together, likely in the 1800s, he said.
The owner at the time moved into the then-one-story house, built a two-story house next to it and bolted the two together. Since then, O’Rourke has added a second story to the side of the original house.
“I tried to stick as close to possible to the look of the old home,” O'Rourke said.