The rebuilt barn, like the original, was actually a large storage barn for hay and grain with an attached horse stable and livestock shed. The horse stable, which stood on the site of the present herb garden, was destroyed or torn down in the early 1950’s.
The Barn reflects an “English” style once common along the New England coast. It features a simple gable roof with the ridgeline running at right angles to the prevailing winds, an oversized cupola, and huge doors on the opposing long sides. Each of these features served a number of very practical purposes.
The doors, when opened, enabled the farmer to take advantage of wind power to help thresh grain, the area between the doors was the “threshing floor.” The large doors also allowed the farmer to pull their hay wagons into the barn for unloading.
The oversized cupola ventilated the immense heat generated by the stored hay that was curing in the lofts, a good ventilator would repel lightning. The trend toward ventilation began in the Connecticut Valley when each farmer chose to express himself architecturally by designing an individual style of cupola.(1) It also allowed birds into the barn to help control the rodents and insect population. And it provided a high mount for one of the farmer’s most important tools, the weathervane.
With English-style barns becoming increasingly rare, the Coley Homestead barn represents an historical asset of major importance.