William & Agnes Gilkerson Farm

Site: V18-174
Municipality: Barnet, VT
Location: On N side of TH3 ca. 1/2 mile W of the jct. with TH25
Site Type: Farm
Vt Survey No: 0301-37
UTMs: (Zone 18)
1. 734095/4916100.
2. 734170/4915960.
3. 734350/4916020.
4. 734320/4916200.
National Register Nomination Information:


The Gilkerson Farmstead now covers about 60 acres of hilly, open and forested land in the town of Barnet, Vermont. Originally settled by Scottish immigrants in the 18th century, this farmstead lies between the Water Andrick and Joe's Brook, near the Passumpslc River, about five miles northeast of the Connecticut River. From this elevated location, the farm enjoys an expansive view over the Connecticut River valley and the foothills of the White Mountains. Of the original 125 acre plot, roughly 60 acres remains associated with the 1799-1802 Cape Cod, rubble stone house and its current owners, the Kitchels. Some of the 60 acres is devoted to hay and corn and is farmed by neighbors, the remainder consists of forest in the hilliest sections, the immediate area surrounding the stone house and some small gardens. The stone house, the farm structures and the small gardens are the focal point of the farmstead. The farmstead consists of five smaller sites: 1) The 1799-1802 stone house, c. 1805, 1938, 1943 woodshed/carriage team and 1943 garage/apartment, 2) the c. 1950 sugar house, attendant wood sheds and farm implement/tool shed, 3) the 1941 upper ground level stable barn with its milkhouse, silage, hay and manure storage, 4) the 1939 lower ground level stable barn and 1948 chicken house (now a studio) and 5) the c. 1875 stone barn foundation along with the small gardens and small animal enclosures.

Although the farm buildings are no longer used to full capacity and the older nineteenth century barn is now only a foundation, the structures remain intact in form (except the ruined barn), have some of their agricultural equipment and still convey the sense and feel of the historic farmstead. The continuing use of many of the fields by other farmers, the dedication of the owners to protect this farmstead and the good condition of the farm structures all combine to retain the farmstead's integrity of location, design, setting, workmanship, materials, association and feeling.

1a. Stone House, c. 1791-802/1938/1945/1950.
The stone house is a one and one-half story, rubble stone Cape Cod form with a metal standing seam roof, stone foundation and flush, end wall, composite masonry chimneys characterized by stone below the roof line and by brick above the roof line, which are surmounted by metal, arched flue hoods. Commanding a southeasterly view over the surrounding fields and the Connecticut River Valley, this symmetrical Georgian/Federal style Cape Cod type sits atop a flat part of a knoll above Summer Road: behind the house, the hill continues rising upward.

William Gilkerson built the Cape Cod for his new Scottish bride and the house reflects their native heritage with its use of stone rather than the plentiful and more easily worked wood. This stone was locally quarried, but the lime used in the mortar was transported from Burlington by sledge. The largest of the stones occupy the comers and lintels, and smaller stones fill in the rest of the walls. The first floor has 6/6 double hung sash windows with solid two panel shutters. The original nine panel door on the south, main facade has a metal latch, an aluminum storm door and a transom above with four lights. Outside and above the entry way is a projecting wooden hood on brackets, added in 1938 when a crude seven bay porch of unknown age was removed. The top of this entrance door hood is triangularly pedimented, and the bottom is a semi-elliptical arch. The simple cornice line also forms gable returns inset into the stone work and the main (south) eave side has 10 modillion-like projections.

The roof is pierced by five triangularly pedimented dormer windows on the south facade and by a 3/5 length shed dormer centered in the north elevation: these date from 1950 and 1945 respectively, when the Kitchels retained an architect to remodel the upstairs to include more living space with more ample light than that provided by the gable wall windows.

The side, gable elevations have inset gable returns. They have two 9/6 double hung sash windows in the half story and above these are two square, four light fixed pane windows. These windows are placed near the outside edges of the walls since the double fireplaces and the single chimney form a corbelled wishbone structure which requires most of the central portion of the gable walls. The west elevation has louvered square windows at the topmost level. The remainder of this elevation is identical to the east elevation except as noted. The north (rear) elevation has an added kitchen chimney which is braced above the first story wall with connecting ties to the shed dormer. This elevation has 6/6 windows on the first story and has three groups of doubled six pane casement windows in the 3/5 shed dormer.

The first floor plan of the stone house has two rooms on either side of an entrance stair hall. The east parlor extends the full width of the house and is divided by a central girt, which marks the original dividing wall before this space was unified in 1938. The west hall is the original kitchen and working space. North of this there is a small room, which is now a study. The central entrance hall accesses the kitchen, which is located in the middle of the back half of the house. The upstairs plan mirrors that of the first story with three bedrooms over the three aforementioned downstairs rooms and a bath over the kitchen. While the largest bedroom (over the east parlor), the bathroom and the new kitchen, at the end of the entrance hall, were converted from storage space by the Kitchels, the majority of the house consists of original fabric.

The central stair hall has shoulder height wainscoting of hand-planed, two to three feet wide pine boards and plastered walls. The stair has a Federal style rail and balusters with an elegant newel, which is square at the base, octagonal above and becomes round at the top; the other balusters are set forty-five degrees to square. The backside of the nine panel front door consists of two very wide vertical boards. All other doors (except those to the east parlor) have two or three hand planed vertical boards on one side held together by nails through smaller, horizontal, bevelled boards on the other side.

The hall (original kitchen and workplace) contains on the west wall an immense fireplace, Dutch oven and an overmantle with two horizontal, bevelled boards. This entire wall is panelled and was revealed by the removal of a furred out and plastered wall in 1938; the remainder of the chamber has dado height wainscoting, plastered walls, hand worked joists across the ceiling and deep window reveals necessitated by the thick stone walls. These window reveals are also splayed in three directions: this combined with the tall ceilings, the elegant stair rail and the fine fireplace mantles testify to the excellent workmanship and design of the builder.

The parlor extends the width of the house since it was opened up in 1938 by the Kitchels and the dividing girt is concealed behind painted paneling. This parlor has two fireplaces, the south more elegant than the north fireplace as its architrave and cornice moulding profiles are more detailed and its frieze has a stylized, incised tri- and hexaglyph motif. Both of these Federal mantelpieces were intended for show as opposed to the more utilitarian fireplace in the hall. This parlor also has two six panel Federal doors with metal latches, cornice and baseboard moldings, architrave trim molding around all doors and windows and chair rails at window sill height although the dado is not wainscoted, but plastered and painted instead. The parlor also has two built in cabinets with three panelled doors straddling the panelled post which separates the two sections of the room.

1b. Wood shed/Carriage House/Garage/Apartment, c. 1805-1820/1938-43.
The carriage house is a single story timber framed structure with unpainted vertical board siding although it had unpainted clapboards at least until 1938; the carriage house is an ell extending south and connecting to the southern third of the west gable end of the stone house. It has a gabled standing seam metal roof with simple cornice returns, a small interior stove chimney on slope and near the ridge board on the northern half of the structure with a corbelled brick flue hood. There is an exterior brick chimney on the west eave wall with pent buttresses and an arched metal flue hood on the southern half of the structure. On the north gable end there is a entrance door with a storm door and west of this is a modern doubled, single pane casement window. The east eave end has one 12/12 double hung sash window on the northern half and the southern half has two Federal style arched openings which once admitted the carriages and later automobiles. These openings were infilled with 12 paned doors with two flanking 12 paned sidelights; the glass panes start at the same level and the sidelights are not as tall as the door thus retaining a Federal motif in the original openings. The Federal style elliptical arches and the resemblance to a Palladian window in these infilled bays date from the 1943, architect designed conversion of this utilitarian space to an apartment for a field hand. On the south gable end a dropped shed roof projects about two feet. In this small addition is a very large 98 (14x7) paned window; on the side walls of this addition are 14 paned (2x7) sidelights. These lights and those inside the arched openings on the east eave side provide the lighting for a living room centered around the fireplace with the exterior, buttressed chimney. On the west eave side, there are two small 6 (3x2) paned windows high on the wall flanking the chimney pile on the southern half of the structure. On the northern half of the west eave wall are two 4/4 double hung sash separated by a mullion and in one frame.

Although it has served many functions, including perhaps the original and necessarily crude living quarters, it still retains its basic form. The building has always been divided into two functions: its southern half has been a wood shed, a carriage house, a garage and now a living room, and its northern half has been a wood shed, a garage and a bedroom, The northern-most section of the structure serves as a 'mud room' or informal entrance hall and provides a connection to the stone house, the carriage house and the newer apartment house.

1c Apartment/Guest House/Garage, 1943-46.
This large, two story, three bay structure with poured concrete foundation has an asphalt shingle roof, vinyl siding, small triangular attic vents just below the gable peak, an asymmetrical roof and a variety of window types. The roof slope is angled such that the south elevation is two stories and the north elevation is one and one-half stories; the eaves have gutters and very little overhang and there is no cornice detailing evident. There is one small chimney with flue extending above on the south slope near the ridge board on the western half of the structure. All windows have shutters, and on the south eave wall in the central bay and in the second story western bay are double 1/1 sliding sash windows separated by a mullion. All other windows are single 1/1 double hung sash of different sizes. The only exception is a door sized window on the eastern end of the first story of the south eave wall; this large window provides light for the storage room which is now used as a small greenhouse.

The entire second story has apartment quarters and the first story is dominated by the garage space on the north and west sides. The remaining first story space has two rooms, one for storage and one devoted to living space. On the west gable end there is an elevated porch with stairs leading to it. This porch is half the length of the gable width and is further accessible by a door at second story level on the southern half of this western gable end. Also on the second story is a single 1/1 double hung window. The north eave wall is dominated by a gabled wall dormer delineating the 2/3 portion of this elevation which the two bay garage occupies. Centered in this dormer above the garage is a doubled 1/1 sash with shutters. On the first story level east of the garage bays is a single 1/1 sash with shutters. Connecting the apartment house and the carriage house are two wings. The first has a door with a single pane of glass in its south eave wall. Also facing south is a single roof skylight, lighting the upper half story. North of this is another small wing with a single, horizontally oriented, rectangular, single pane, awning window opening inward on the south eave wall.

2a, b, c. Sugar House, Wood Sheds, and Equipment Shed, c1950.
These buildings are all connected, and are non-contributing due to their age. The sugar house is a balloon-framed, 4 x 3 bay structure with a raised concrete block foundation, vertical board sheathing and a corrugated metal roof. The raised foundation is punctuated only by the two doors, one on the fourth (eastern) bay of the south eave side and the other in the middle bay of the east gable end. On the main southern eave facade there are also three windows. These are 6 paned (3x2) hopper windows, which open inward on a hinged bottom stile; all other windows follow this type. The west and east gable ends have one window on each outer bay, and in the central bay, below the apex of the roof, there is a third window.

In the central bay and dropping below the top of the foundation is a horizontal door, which accesses the bottom of the evaporator pans for cleaning purposes. On the east gable end there is an entrance door between the windows. The north eave side has no windows or doors. Surmounting the main rectangular frame, a 3/5 length ventilator with vertical board sheathing and a corrugated metal roof straddles the ridge board. This ventilator lies slightly west of the center point of the gable roof. The north and south eave ends of this ventilator consist of seven hinged doors which open outward and are controlled by ropes and pulleys inside the sugar house. The sugar house and its attached wood and equipment sheds are painted red and the trim and foundation of the sugar house are painted white. The sugar house is now used for storage and the evaporator and related sugaring equipment have been sold.

The wood shed and the equipment shed are all similarly constructed of balloon framing with vertical board sheathing and corrugated metal roofs. The wood shed runs in a line from west south-west to east north-east directly behind (north) the sugar house. This structure has five bays and a shed roof. The bay openings are characterized by the sheathing of the diagonal space between the post, the plate and the comer brace. Starting from the west, the third and fourth bays are connected to the sugar house by a shed roof spanning a wider, one bay space but otherwise identical to the first five bays. This span can be driven under or used to shelter the horse drawn drays or tractor, which supplied the sugar house with wood and raw sap. This road is now an internal farm road, but it was once a secondary county road. Connected to the east gable end of the sugar house lies an equipment/wood shed. This structure is also identical to the five bay wood sheds except that it has an asymmetrical gable roof which extends much farther to the north than the south. The ridge board of this structure joins the sugar house just below the center of the upper window on the east gable end.

3a. Milk House, 1941.
3b. Upper Barn, 1941/1948-49/1955.
3c. Silo, 1941.
3d. Hay Barn, 1941.
3e. Manure Tank, c1941.
Located on the eastern part of the farmstead, this immense interconnected series of buildings defines the entire farmstead, functionally and visually. The size, the irregular massing and the multiplicity of gambrel, shed, gable, domical and conical roof shapes make this group of buildings the most striking on the farmstead. Holding up to 53 head of cattle and the means to bed, feed and milk them, this was the heart of the farm's operation. Expanding the farm's production in 1941, these structures were built to move the small farm operation from the lower barn to this site just up the hill, known as the upper barn. The entire complex contributes to the significance of the farm.

On the west end of this group and closest to the road is the milkhouse. Built in 1941, the milkhouse is a single story, framed and triple pitched, gambrel roofed structure with asbestos shingles, vertical board sheathing and a poured concrete foundation. The west eave abuts two 6/6 double hung sash windows. The north gambrel end also has one of these windows centered in the wall. The south gambrel end has a 4 paned, 3 horizontal panel door on center with a square louvered vent above the eave line. Connecting the milkhouse to the main barn is a shed roofed structure, which extends one bay further south than does the milkhouse. It is also sheathed in vertical boards but has a corrugated metal roof, which slopes south. The only opening is a door centered In the west wall and identical to that of the milkhouse. Both these structures are painted red with white trim. The doors are painted white on the surrounds, panels and muntins with the remaining stiles and rails painted red.

The single story ground level stable barn (upper barn) has a poured concrete slab foundation, balloon framing with enclosed roof trusses, corrugated asbestos wall sheathing, an asbestos shingle gable roof, two metal ventilators on the ridge pole and many windows of several types. The first section of this barn from 1941 extended east as far as the concrete silo and included a bull pen and a calving pen on the south wall and 31 stanchions separated by manure troughs on either side of a central walkway. The roof trusses over this area are enclosed by a hung ceiling of asbestos sheets between wooden battens. The extension in 1948-49 of the barn to the east maintained the same form, but it had a metal roof with its trusses enclosed above a beaded tongue and groove ceiling. The addition included 22 new stanchions arranged identically to the original 31, and intersected the round hay barn, necessitating some minor alterations where the two joined.

The north eave elevation has a line of ten regularly spaced 6 paned (3x2) hopper windows. There is a small shed connecting the concrete silo, the hay barn and the stable barn, which provides shelter to the access areas of the silo and hay barn. Further east the round hay barn intersects the stable barn addition. The east gable end elevation (part of the '48-'49 addition) has one door at the northern corner, adjacent to the intersection of the hay barn. Four regularly spaced 1/1 windows punctuate the corrugated asbestos siding, although these are all now broken and covered with plastic. Below the gable peak is a square louvered vent. The south eave elevation has six more of these 1/1 windows (unbroken) which mark the addition. The original section has, from east to west, two wall mounted ventilating fans, a door, three 6 paned (3x2) hopper windows, a corrugated asbestos siding track mounted, garage door used for livestock entrance and exit, one more hopper window and finally the 1955 walk through milking parlor.

The walk through milking parlor, built c. 1955, also has a poured concrete foundation and a metal gable roof. The walls are sheathed in vertical boards and the east slope of the roof has a second shed pitch. The south gable end has one, centered and square single pane window; to the west is a door. On the west eave elevation there are two intersecting large, single paned windows which occupy the entire width of the parlor. The milking parlor is painted white with red trim; the door has a red surround and panels, the stiles and rails are white.

Behind the stable barn on the north side is a concrete, trapezoidal "shingle" silo, bound in compression by metal tensioning rings. This corn silage tower is capped by a conical metal roof. Along the southeastern arc of the silo is a smaller, integrated cylindrical tower with a metal conical roof. Directly east of the silo is the round hay barn, the southern quarter of which intersects the stable barn. The hay team is a three story, balloon framed structure sheathed in corrugated metal and roofed conically with a central metal ventilator. The center core of the team had a round ventilation stack which has since been removed; there is also a square vent stack of similar construction on the west arc. The top story (upper half) of the barn is used for hay storage. The floor below is used for sawdust bedding storage. Below this a poured concrete foundation is now empty. A door in the floor of the southwestern quadrant of the upper story leads to a chute, which empties into the stable barn. Directly opposite this, on the north eastern quadrant and high on the wall, there is an opening through which the hay elevator loaded the barn. Centered in the northwest quadrant, is a high drive access door. The floor of the top story lies several feet above the high drive and either the hay mow or the sawdust bedding storage area below may be accessed from this high drive.

Adjacent to the east gable end of the stable barn at the southern comer, there is a concrete lined manure storage tank which holds a mixture of manure and water. Atop the slab roof of this slurry pit is a motor driven stirring turbine and a pump powered access pipe with a curved top with which to fill a manure spreader. The tank is filled automatically by a manure trough cleaner, which removed the manure through the floor on the east end of the stable barn.

4a., 4b. Lower Barn, Chicken House/Work Space, 1938/1948/c1987.
Dairy operations began with the construction of this barn in 1938. Originally housing several dairy cattle and draft horses, this barn then housed poultry starting in 1945-46. Poultry raising was expanded in 1948 with the construction of the larger chicken house at the southeast corner. Around 1987, the barn was used for a small scale summertime sheep operation, and the chicken house was converted to a wood working studio. The lower barn represents the beginning of the Kitchel farm operations. It is a contributing element, even though the chicken house/work space is not yet fifty years old.

The lower barn is a one and one-half story, balloon framed structure on a poured concrete foundation with an asbestos shingled, flared eave gambrel roof, a metal ventilator centered along the ridge pole and vertical board sheathing. The first story of the west gambrel end has a four panel, single pane door set off center and a sheathed over 6 pane (3x2) hopper window south of the door. On the half story, there is a centered outward opening door; the door has a 6 paned (2x3) section above three vertical panels. Flanking either side of the door are 6 paned (3x2) hopper windows. Along the northern eave elevation, four of the five bays have doubled, 6 paned (3x2) hopper windows; the second bay from the east is blank. The east gambrel end has a single door against the northern corner. The south eave elevation has three bays of doubled windows in the same arrangement as those on the north elevation. The lower barn is also painted red with contrasting white trim.

The chicken house has a concrete block foundation, balloon framing, corrugated metal sheathing and a metal gable roof with a metal ventilator. The ridge board of the roof runs southwest/northeast. Because of this skewed orientation, the roof ridge abuts the eave of the gambrel roofed lower barn. Easterly of this intersection, a triangularly shaped space is created between the two structures; its roof and sheathing are identical to that of the chicken house. The northwest and southeast eave elevations are likewise identical having five regularly spaced, doubled, 6 paned (3x2) hopper windows. The east elevation of the triangular connector has one of these doubled hopper windows. The skewed north gable wall has a single aluminum storm door with a glass light. The south gable, entrance end has a centered set of French doors flanked by a set of the doubled hopper windows.

5. Barn Foundation, c. 1875.
This foundation is all that remains of the older barn. When the Kitchels bought the farm in 1938, it had not been active for many years. This barn was in very poor shape according to the Kitchels, and therefore it was torn down. The remaining foundation forms a 'U' which opens southward. At either end of this 'U', the foundation turned at right angles outward. The site slopes first gradually and then sharply to the south. Therefore, the gable end with high drive faced north, and the south end would have had at least three stories compared to the two stories of the north end. Furthermore, the right angled walls were retaining walls for the north side of a drive which went through the manure basement of this bank barn. Adjacent to the northern side of the east eave wall is an L shaped foundation about four feet from the 'U'. This shape opens to the northeast and would have been a much smaller barn. This foundation can still yield information [of] its orientation and general layout, and thus it is a contributing structure.


The Gilkerson Farmstead in Barnet, which includes a c.1799 stone Cape Cod house and farm buildings from the late 1930s and early 1940s is significant for both historic and architectural merit. The house was built by Scottish immigrants William and Agnes Gilkerson, and reflects the Scottish settlement of this part of Caledonia County as well as Scottish stone building practices. The farmstead is also significant as one of the abandoned hill farms of Vermont that was revitalized in the 1930s. It was bought by Douglas and Sybil Kitchel, who made use of the most recent scientific farming techniques to develop a modern dairy operation. The farm buildings stand today as an excellent example of a model farm of the middle twentieth century. The farmstead is being nominated under the Multiple Property submission, "Agricultural Resources of Vermont," and meets the registration requirements for the farmstead property type.

The town of Barnet, along with several others in Caledonia County, were settled by a number of immigrants from Scotland. The county is noteworthy for having such a large number of early settlers who were Scottish immigrants, since much of the rest of Vermont was settled by natives of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Connecticut. Several companies were organized in Scotland to scout America for suitable farm land. The Scotch-American Company, organized by 137 people on February 5, 1773, at Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland, sent James Whitelaw as its agent to look for land in America. Whitelaw eventually bought property for the company in Ryegate, the town just to the south of Barnet.

A group of mostly farmers in the village of Arnpyre, parish of Kippen and neighborhood in Stirlingshire, Scotland, joined together to form the Arnpyrick Society for Emigrants. Their first known public notice was printed in Scots Magazine in April of 1774. They appointed as their agent, Alexander Harvey (born 1747), a farmer of Stirlingshire. In 1774 he traveled throughout northeastern America, meeting with Whitelaw in Ryegate. On August 27 he arrived in Barnet and looked at land with Mr. Stevens, a land surveyor and brother of Samuel Stevens (both proprietors of the Town of Barnet). The next day they reviewed 7,000 acres on the west end of Barnet. Harvey noted in his journal that the "soile appears to be fertile and good." On August 29 he inquired about the terms of sale, "and as this Land is the Best we had yet seen we were willing to treate with him tho not to make a positive Bargan." The Stevens brothers and Harvey eventually agreed on a price of 14d sterling per acre, for a total of just over 400 pounds.

The intended settlement on these 7,000 acres in Barnet was interrupted by the Revolutionary War, but commenced again with peacetime. Bernard Bailyn found that of 105 householders known to have lived in Barnet between 1775-1798, at least ten can be traced back to villages in Stirlingshire, Scotland, and vicinity (Voyagers to the West, N.Y.: Alfred Knopf, 1986, p.636). Among them were John Gilkerson, his wife, and four sons, who were from Kilwinan, Scotland. They arrived in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on July 22, 1784, and moved to Barnet the next year. They occupied the land of John Galbraith, who settled in Barnet in 1774. Their son, William (born July 22, 1774), worked in Boscawen, New Hampshire for two and a half years, before joining his family in Barnet.

Local tradition states that William Gilkerson built his stone house to have a suitable Scottish dwelling for his new bride, Agnes Somers. Agnes and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Somers, came to Barnet from Cambuslang, Scotland. William and Agnes were married on January 28, 1802. Because the house must have taken a long time to complete, it is thought that it was built between 1799 and 1802. The house is built of rubble stone, which requires a great deal of mortar to hold it together. The Barnet town history, published in 1923, records that William Gilkerson brought sixty-one barrels of lime from Burlington, Vermont, by ox team, to use for the mortar.

This stone house is one of four remaining in this part of Vermont that are built during this time period of rubble stone construction. All of them were built by Scottish settlers. The Whitehill House in Ryegate, built in 1808, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 30, 1975. Two others, the John Orr House in West Ryegate (built 1798) and the Taisey House in Groton (built c.1810), are listed on the State Register of Historic Places. There are ruins of another stone house, the Abraham Whitehill House (built in 1812), in North Ryegate. Of these four standing houses, the Gilkerson House is the largest and the best preserved. All four are stone Cape Cod type houses with chimneys built into the end walls. The Gilkerson House is deeper and taller, with a high ceiling on the first floor and more room upstairs under the sweeping roof.

The Gilkerson House is noteworthy for a number of reasons. The first floor plan illustrates a vernacular transition from the Georgian to the Federal period. The central hallway extends two-thirds the depth of the house, a transitional space that is longer than the typical Georgian entry, which usually contained the stairway and little else. The hallway does not extend through the house, as is more common in Federal period plan houses. The house does have a Cape Cod form, but is unlike the more common Vermont Cape Cods, which have a massive central chimney or less commonly two interior chimneys. The Gilkerson House has chimney stacks built into the end walls. This variation follows naturally from the use of stone, as stone is more time-consuming to use in construction than timber framing, and thus the chimneys would be incorporated into the massive walls rather than building separate chimney stacks internally.

The interior space most strongly representing the Georgian influence is the hall (original kitchen, now dining room). The entire fireplace (end) wall is panelled and the rest of the room, as well as the entry hallway, is wainscoted with pine boards. The end wall has an immense fireplace and baking oven built into the three foot thick stone walls. This room is a strong contrast to the parlors (originally two rooms, now one) on the other side of the entry hallway and a small room in back of the hall that is now the study. The parlors have ornate fireplaces with Federal period mantels, plastered and painted walls, and chair rails. All downstairs rooms are noteworthy for their window and exterior door openings, which have splayed reveals on the sides and tops to let in more light and provide a feeling of airiness to the thick stone walls.

Agnes Gilkerson died on February 27, 1847, but her husband William lived to be almost 90 years old, dying on March 24, 1864. They had ten children. William held many town offices and served in the Vermont House of Representatives for several terms. His son, Robert, inherited the farm. Robert, his wife Mary, and family sold the farm in 1866 to Claudius B. Somers (from another Scottish family), and moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, to farm there. Somers was deacon of the Passumpsic Baptist Church in Barnet from the 1880s until his death in 1898.

Agricultural Census records show the time period of 1850 to 1880 to be one of solid growth for this and other farms of the region. Improved acreage of the old Gilkerson farm increased from 75 to 95 acres, with the total acreage remaining stable at 125 acres. The total value of livestock increased from $262 to $800. Some of the statistics from 1880, such as the numbers of sheep and pounds of maple sugar, decreased slightly from the 1870 census as the Somer farm concentrated on dairy operations. Total number of cattle increased from eight to twenty-two, with a resulting rise in butter and cheese output. It is very likely that the near trebling of the cattle herd from 1870 to 1880 resulted in the need for a larger barn. It is therefore likely that the stone foundation (#5) on the property is the foundation of a bank barn built during this time period.

Fred Landry bought the farm from Claudius Somers. The farm stood idle for a number of years, until Douglas and Sybil Kitchel bought the foreclosed property from the bank in 1938. The Kitchel's tenure of the farm begins the second phase of its significance and a resurrection of the agricultural use of this land, and serves as an excellent example of an abandoned hill farm that was revitalized. The Kitchels made several changes to the house to make the space more livable. They restored the west hall chamber to its original appearance by removing a wall that had covered the original walls. The east parlors were opened up to make one room. Upstairs there were originally finished living quarters only on the western half of the house. The only windows were in the end walls. The Kitchels made living space in the eastern half of the upstairs, and hired an architect to design dormers for both roof slopes, to allow for better air circulation. The dormers are basically unobtrusive in design and do not detract from its aesthetics.

The Kitchels began small scale dairy farming with the construction in 1938-39 of the lower barn. They received advice from neighboring farmers and the University of Vermont Agricultural Extension Service. The Extension Service was particularly active during the World War II years, as farm production was considered essential to the war effort. Also helpful in setting up the farm were many of the agricultural journals of the day. The farm was revitalized and operated according to the most recent scientific agricultural principles, as influenced by the Extension Service and agricultural magazines.

The completion of the all purpose stable barn in 1939 was quickly followed by the building of a much larger Ground Level Stable Barn (the Upper Barn) in 1941. The barn and attached outbuildings included a milkhouse closest to the road, a concrete silo, a round hay barn with special drying features, and a concrete-lined manure tank. The barn is characteristic of its type, with a concrete slab floor, inset feed and manure troughs, an automatic trough cleaner emptying into a container tank, and pipe stanchions with individual water basins. The barn is also clad all around with asbestos siding and insulation, illustrating the widely recommended use of this "wonder" material. The hay barn had two screened ventilator towers to aid the drying of the hay. The manure tank is even today a rare feature, and most certainly was very uncommon when built in 1941. The mixture of "dry" manure with water in the tank, facilitated by an electric-powered mixing turbine, provided a better quality fertilizer, which when spread on the fields was quickly absorbed. The Kitchels also owned the first tractor in the immediate area. Around 1955 they added a walk-through milking parlor and removed the pipe stanchions. This system did not work well for them, as the new method was grafted onto a barn designed for an older method of milking. Kitchel soon replaced the stanchions and later used the milking parlor for poultry.

The farm prospered through the period from 1938 to the 1960s The dairy and poultry operations both expanded, the processing and distribution operations developed, and the Kitchels built and then expanded the apartment/garage on the side of the house for their farmhands. They also built a sugar house in 1950. The complex drainage patterns of the hilly terrain made the use of labor-saving tube-connected taps and centralized collection infeasible, so sugaring was eventually abandoned. The farm grew to become the Kilfasset Dairy, which included several nearby fields, a large farm in the neighboring town of Ryegate, and a processing, bottling, and delivery facility in the nearby village of Passumpsic. The Kitchels sold parts of the farm holdings and turned over operations to his sons in the latter part of the 1960s so he could attend to other business and political responsibilities. By the early 1980s the old Gilkerson farm has ceased large scale commercial operations.

Although this property is no longer used to its former capacity and some of the fields and operations of the Kilfasset Dairy have been sold, the farm certainly retains its character and significance. All of the farm structures, which were built in the late 1930s and very early 1940s, remain intact and in good condition, and the surrounding tilled and pastured fields retain their appearance. The sixty acres inside the property boundary include pasture and woodlots, and these still convey the original functions of the land. Only the 1948 chicken house has been significantly altered, as it is now a woodworking studio.

Altogether the stone house, farm structures, and surrounding fields and woodlots retain their historic integrity and possess the associative and physical characteristics for nomination to the National Register for its historic and architectural merit. The house is an excellent and rare example of the influence of Scottish architecture, and is important for its associations with the Scottish settlement in Caledonia County. The farm is an excellent example of a model dairy farm from the late 1930s and very early 1940s. The importance of the Gilkerson Farm cannot, however, be summed up only in terms of integrity and fulfillment of required guidelines. This farm also possesses an impressive aesthetic quality--framing a section of a large hill with its surrounding fields providing a beautiful vista of open space up the hill as the farm is approached from the southeast.


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Child, Hamilton. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Caledonia & Essex Counties. Syracuse, New York: The Syracuse Journal of Printers and Binders, 1887.

Glover, Waldo F. Old Scotland in Vermont, Vermont History vol. 23, 1953.

Hemenway, Abby Marla, ed. The History of Caledonia County Vermont: Civil, Ecclesiastical, Biographical and Military. White River Junctlon, Vermont: White River Paper Co., 1882.

Lamoureux, Louis. "Scottish Barnet," Vermont Life, vol. 18, no. 4, Summer, 1964.

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Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Agricultural Resources of Vermont: National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form. 1992.

___________. Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey: Barnet, Ryegate and Groton. Montpelier, Vermont: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1977.

Wells, Frederick Palmer. History of Barnet, Vermont. Burlington, Vermont: Free Press Printing Company, 1923.

FORM PREPARED BY: William Bentley, Historic Preservation Program, Wheeler House, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. Revised Vt. Division for Historic Preservation. Tel: 802-656-3180. Date: June 1992/September 1992.

DATE ENTERED: October 29, 1992.
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