c. 1880 Horse Guards Barn
232 West Avon Road (Route 167)
Listed on the State Register of Historic Places
c. 1880 Horse Guards Barn. Photo courtesy of Deb Key (click image to enlarge).
Constructed as a New England “Bank Barn” by a private family between 1880-1890, its timber frame construction was made according to the “Square” rule using circular saw lumber. 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.
We believe it was owned by a “J. Maxon.” Apparently, he was an avid horse racer and we believe we have 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. It appears that Mr. Maxon was fond of exercising his horses where the First Company Governor’s horses are today.
It was in continuous use by the original owner until the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards acquired the barn and approximately 200 surrounding acres in 1954. To keep the barn from deteriorating further, the Horse Guards constructed a new barn elsewhere on the property. The state offered to lease the old barn to the Society in 2011 as an extension of the Derrin House lease diagonally opposite.
Thanks to a grant from CT Trust and many private donations, a new roof and south wall were replaced in 2015 after a major snowstorm destroyed part of the roof and collapsed the rear annex. Additional renovations are ongoing and the 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, so we have a sound, “historically accurate,” base building to work with.