Contact Avon Historical Society -; 860-678-7621



Events / News

Upcoming Events

Civil War Events

Cow Chip Raffles


Sites to Visit

Pine Grove Schoolhouse

Derrin House

Hunter History Room

Schoolhouse #3

History of Avon

Meet Avon's Town Historian

Historical Avon

Barns of Avon

Local Historic Homes

Farmington Canal

Stories from Avon


Your Help

Horse Guard Barn

Friends of the Society

Corporate Members

AHS Gift Shop

Join Us!

Contact Us


Avon Historical Society Horse Guard Barn




We Are Asking For Your Help To Restore A Local Historic Treasure

January 2012 - The Horse Guard Barn received some sorely needed attention from local heroes.

Horse Guard Barn Roof Tarped Over

Jim Putnam and Len Tolisano brought in Ed Roy, President of Walker Crane and John Cyr, Owner of Cyr Construction (both of whom are Avon High School Alumni) to help Avon Historical Society tarp the roof on a cool Thursday, January 5th, 2012. Thanks to their help, the barn won't suffer any further leaks for the forseeable future, and we can begin work on the next stages of adaptive re-use.

Horse Guard Horse checking on progress

A Horse Guard "Ney-bor" dropped by to check in on progress.

Mike Egan from Walker Crane

Mike Egan from Walker Crane arrived on site with an All Terrain Telescopic Boom Crane for the crew.

Mike Egan from Walker Crane and Len Tolisano with Horse Guard Barn in background

The crane allowed us the opportunity to bring the tarps, battens and plywood up to the roof.

Cyr Construction tarping over the south side of the Horse Guard Barn Roof

Cyr Construction laying out the tarps on the south side of the Horse Guard Barn roof.


November 19th and 20th, 2011 - Barn Tours from Miller Foods Holiday Event. Avon Historical Society was out in front of Miller Foods for their annual Holiday Festivities. Both Len Tolisano and Peter Wright were pleasantly surprised by the turnout, as we seemed to bump into old friends an acquaintances on an hourly basis....

Len Tolisano (posing with the scarecrow) and Peter Wright conducted guided tours of the newly acquired Horse Guard Barn from the Miller Foods Turkey Event on Saturday and Sunday November 19th and 20th. The Event was extremely well attended. We wish to thank the Miller Family for inviting us.

The following snapshots are of some of the folks who came on our Horse Guard Barn Tour.

The Carvalho Family, Ruth, Gabriel, Daniel and Isabella with the Horse Guard Barn in the background.

Melissa Farley Tyler, Micah Rahardjo, Alec Trakovenko and Nico Lopez from Boy Scout Troop 274. Troop 274 was simultaneously conducting a Toy Drive at the Miller Foods Event.

Jeremy and Kyle Zarwanski of Boy Scout Troop 274 pose with "Duke."

Barbara Thomas, Free Lance Journalist, Leslie Chaput, Avon Chamber of Commerce, Colleen and Devin Young Bear.

Jim Gordon, Director of Public Relations and Marketing Salvation Army, Southern New England Division.

Roland and Liam Hicks - Liam faithfully served as the Miller Foods Gobbler / Mascot, during the Event.

Karen, Johanna and Thad Zebrowski, among the brave souls who chose to go on our tour.

Bob Burke with "Duke."


Carin Cruise-Roos posing with "Duke," remarked how the tour was among one of the interesting highlights of her visit to the Miller Foods Event this year.

Southeastern View of the Barn's upper level from West Avon Road

As many of you may already be aware, Avon Historical Society recently acquired the Horse Guard Barn Property from the State of Connecticut, located between the First Company Governor's Horse Guard and Miller Foods, Inc., at 232 West Avon Road, Avon, CT, just across the street from the Derrin House. We wanted to help raise awareness by painting the front of the barn red and elevate our "Help Save This Barn" Sign, with special thanks to the folks at AIC.

Background: Per the historical record, this English style "bank barn" was built some time between 1880 and 1890 and was in continuous use until the First Company Governor's Horse Guard acquired the barn and approximately 200 surrounding acres in 1954.

What is a "Bank Barn?" A bank barn is a barn with 2 levels, typically built on a "bank" to allow access to both levels from either end. In the case of this bank barn, hay was brought in from West Avon Road and passed down to the cows and horses that lived on the lower level, with access to the surrounding fields during the daytime.

View from the lower bank

Southwestern View of the Barn from the lower level

Current Understanding of the Chain of Ownership: From what is currently known, it is extremely likely that this barn and surrounding acreage was originally built and owned by one of or perhaps shared by all 3 of the Derrin Families at some point - "educated," if not wild speculation, given its unique, strategic proximity to the 3 Derrin Homes today. What is better understood is how the barn and sections of the surrounding acreage were in private hands for a long while, owned by a "J. Maxon."

We also know that J. Maxon was an avid horse racer, and we believe we have discovered one of his original sulkies from the turn of the century. For ease of understanding, if a "carriage" could be construed as the "horse-drawn equivalent" of an automobile with the ability to seat four comfortably with their luggage, a "sulky" would be the horse-drawn equivalent of a motorcycle. Apparently, Mr. Maxon was fond of exercising his horses where the First Company Governor's horses are today.

View of a racing sulky found on site

One of the many artifacts found on site. A sulky likely owned or borrowed by "J. Maxon."

What's Next: Len Tolisano, Curator of the Derrin House Museum across the street is managing this once-in-a-lifetime restoration project, while all of us are currently in the process of simultaneously raising funds, cleaning out the barn, and in the near term, seeking bids and / or donations for tarping over the roof of the barn until the necessary funds for roof replacement and fuller restoration are secured.

Curator, Len Tolisano

Curator and Factotum, Len Tolisano, showcasing the project's interior

Avon Historical Society's goal is to restore the Barn to as close to its original state as possible. Fortunately, prior generations built for the long-term, and not much repair or restoration over the last several decades was required, so we have a pretty sound, "historically accurate," base building to work with.

This is where it gets interesting: For this purpose we have set up this Fundraiser Page so now you can help us achieve our goal of fully restoring this local treasure for current and future generations. We are asking for your support, whether financial or in service - expertise, materials and / or labor. We are confident that together we can fulfill our project goals, and we need your help, no matter how large or small a contribution you were considering.  

There are multiple ways to contact us. Feel free to leave a phone message at 860-678-7621, or post a message to us via our Feedback Page, whether you would like to donate funds for restoration or volunteer time and services to help.

The Prince Thomas of Savoy Society has already gotten the ball rolling with a generous donation for which we are very grateful. Please see their contact information on our Friends of the Society Webpage.

We have also set it up here so you can make a secure online donation. No matter how large or small your contribution, we thank you for your help.



More images from the Horse Guard Barn Project

Interior View of the Barn, looking southeast

Interior View of the Barn, looking northeast

General Views of this work in progress

"Magnum," Courage Under Fire

"Magnum," one of the Horse Guard's horses, selected to be part of the Horse Guard Team for his renowned "grace under pressure," stopped by to check on progress



Avon Historical Society P.O. Box 448, Avon, CT. 06001  All Rights Reserved