Friday, October 30, 2009

Catch the High Breeze

High Breeze Farm in Wawayanda State Park encompasses 172 acres of mountain farmland. The houses and farm buildings have seen few changes since 1910. Peter Demarest built the main farm house around 1830 on land that he inherited from his father, David Demarest, in 1826. The farm passed to Peter’s older brother Samuel in 1838, who sold it to David Barret in 1860.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), a 200-acre farm in Sussex County could yield $5,000 worth of produce. The Long Depression (1873-1881) collapsed land values and induced hardship. By 1900, railroads brought large machine-worked farms on the Midwestern Plains into competition with the Atlantic seaboard. Farm workers migrated to city factories, encouraging the use of labor-saving machinery. Sussex County farmers increasingly specialized in producing milk and orchard fruits. Lakeside and mountaintop farms took in summer vacationers for income.

Before his death in 1891, David Barret divided the farm between his son James and grandson Ferris. James Edward Barret (1840-1913) added a two-story addition to the house for summer boarders around 1891. James’ son Ferris (1861-1945) dismantled this wing about 1914 and specialized in horse breeding. He was also a skilled blacksmith and farrier. Luther J. Barret (1909-1986) took over management upon his father’s death in 1945. He also was an accomplished farrier and horse breeder, who used only horse-drawn farm machinery. Although electric lighting came in 1948, indoor plumbing and central heating were never installed. High Breeze Farm thus offers a rare glimpse into our vanishing rural heritage.

The State of NJ acquired High Breeze Farm in 1981. After spending a considerable sum on studies and stabilization, this State Historic Site was abandoned to the elements. Though rapidly deteriorating, the remaining structures include:

1. Main House, circa 1825

2. Summer Kitchen/ Wagon Shed, circa 1880

3. Garage, circa 1925

4. Privy #1

5. Privy #2

6. Privy #3

7. Well House, stone and lattice well housing built 1940

8. Lower Barn, 1887

9. Chicken Coop #1, circa 1930

10. Chicken Coop #2, circa 1887

11. Metal Corn Crib (patented 1909), installed 1955

12. Upper Barn, 1886

13. Machinery Shed, circa 1935

14. Tenant House, built 1909 for Frerris Barret

15. Blacksmith Shop, circa 1860

16. Corn Crib (circa 1860) and Wagon Shed moved and rebuilt in 1910

17. Privy #4

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