249 West Avon Road (Route 167 near intersection of Arch Road)
Listed on the State Register of Historic Places
Photo courtesy of Deb Key (click image to enlarge).
Sadly, this building is currently closed following a major fire on May 11, 2016, a mere 3 weeks prior to our planned 250th anniversary of the granting of the original deed to Lucy Derrin. This rare piece of Avon’s local heritage was saved thanks to the rapid response from fire departments of four towns. Since that terrible accident the Society has overseen a substantial remediation process to secure the building structurally and to conserve artifacts salvaged after the fire.
Land that the current Derrin House sits on was once occupied by Native Americans, according to flint and artifacts discovered during a dig by the state archeologist in 1995. We refer to it as the Derrin House because the property was owned by one family for over 150 years (1766-1920), raising at least five generations of Derrins. After the Derrin family had left the area, the house was used as a caretaker's cottage for the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards from 1950 until the building was leased to the Society in 1996. In the subsequent twenty years, untold hours of volunteer labor and donated materials had steadily improved the building until the fire abruptly curtailed our plans.
From the small original back room that predates 1766 with its recently discovered interior well nearly 30’ deep, the house was progressively expanded in the early 1800s, according to construction techniques and support beams in the foundations. Prior to the fire the Derrin House was testimony to a way of life that has virtually disappeared from our region, the subsistence family farm. It was filled with period furniture and implements inviting visitors to learn what life was like on a 19th century New England farm. Many displays were interactive pieces for a true hands-on experience. Now one wanders through the bare rooms like walking through a time capsule where you can understand how fortunes fared and building techniques evolved.
The Society has made amazing progress with essential fire damage repairs. However, considerable work still lies ahead before we can reopen to the public. Challenges include upgrading the HVAC, electrical system, water supply and interior walls before we progress to an adaptive reuse phase. We welcome community contributions and suggestions for how the Derrin House might be used or portrayed in the future. Please call Avon Historical Society at the number below, or donate now at www.gofundme.com/derrin