Building Name (Common)Fitch House Barn
Building Name (Historic)Edwin Fitch Barn
Address563 Storrs Road (Rte 195)
This is a 1 ½-story eave entry barn, with a shed-roof addition off the southwest eave-side of the barn. The main façade faces northeast and the ridge-line of the barn is parallel to Storrs Road, which at this point runs approximately northwest to southeast.
On the north half of the northeast eave-façade of the barn is a pair of side-hinged double-height doors, set in each door is a four-pane diamond shaped window. Above the doors is an elongated sixteen-pane transom. The main entry is a single side-hinged door with six-pane window set in the upper half of the door. To the east is a side hinged pass-through door with a six-pane window in the top half of the door. Above this at the eave-line is a hip-roof dormer consisting of a pair of six-over-six double-hung windows. On the east half of the northeast eave-façade of the barn are two bays. The northern most bay consists of a pair of side-hinged doors. The eastern most bay consists of a sliding door. The two side-hinged doors have three panels in the lower half, an eight-pane window, and a small panel just above the window. The sliding door has six panels in the lower half, a twelve-pane window, and a small panel above the window. Located above the sliding door in the eastern most bay of the northeast eave-side is a side-hinged hay door set below the eave.
On the southeast gable-end of the barn are two six-over-six double-hung windows off-center to the east. At the south corner of the southeast gable-end of the barn is a six-paneled side-hinged door. Centered in the gable-attic of the southeast gable-end of the barn is a pair of six-over-six double-hung windows.
Starting at the south corner of the southwest eave-side of the barn is a two-over-two double-hung window, followed further south by a six-paneled side-hinged door which is adjacent to a shed-roof extension. The southeast side of the extension has a six-over-six double-hung window. Below the eave of the southwest eave-side of the barn and just above the shed-roof extension is a Queen Anne style window slightly off-center to the south and a six-over-six double-hung window towards the south and near the large shed-roof addition. The west portion of the barn has the shed-roof addition projecting south. Centered in southwest side of the shed-roof addition is a hexagonal topped opening.
The barn is covered in clapboard painted white with white corner boards, cornice boards and trim. The roof is covered in asphalt shingles and evenly spaced atop the ridgeline of the barn are two cupolas. The cupolas have louvered openings on all four sides and each a hipped roof topped with a finial.
The oldest barns still found in the state are called the "English Barn,” “side-entry barn,” “eave entry,” or a 30 x 40. They are simple buildings with rectangular plan, pitched gable roof, and a door or doors located on one or both of the eave sides of the building based on the grain warehouses of the English colonists' homeland. The name “30 by 40” originates from its size (in feet), which was large enough for 1 family and could service about 100 acres. The multi-purpose use of the English barn is reflected by the building's construction in three distinct bays - one for each use. The middle bay was used for threshing, which is separating the seed from the stalk in wheat and oat by beating the stalks with a flail. The flanking bays would be for animals and hay storage.
Until the 1830s, the horses used for riding and driving carriages were often kept in the main barn along with the other farm animals. By the 1850s, some New England farmers built separate horse stables and carriage houses. Early carriage houses were built just to shelter a carriage and perhaps a sleigh, but no horses. The pre-cursor to the twentieth-century garage, these outbuildings are distinguished by their large hinged doors, few windows, and proximity to the dooryard. The combined horse stable and carriage house continued to be a common farm building through the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, until automobiles became common. Elaborate carriage houses were also associated with gentlemen farms and country estates of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Another form of carriage barn, the urban livery stable, served the needs of tradespeople.
The site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Mansfield Center Historic District. The nomination focuses on the mansion built on the site in 1836 by noted New England master builder and architect Edwin Fitch. The house became known as “Fitch’s Folly”. The barn is not specifically identified in the nomination but it would appear the north portion of the barn was originally built by Fitch as a carriage house. Fitch eventually sold the mansion moving to a more modest residence. It was subsequent owners who enlarged the barn to its current form over the proceeding 80 years. The site today is a bed & breakfast.
Two English-style side-by-side barns built between 1836 and 1874. Barn on the right is a carriage shed with a middle connection between the two barns built shortly after 1906. Edwin Fitch was a master builder and architect who built his house in 1836.