Origin of the Species

In his seminal book on New England's connected farms (titled, naturally enough, Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn) historian Thomas Hubka dispels the common assumption that New England farmers linked their buildings to avoid the winter slog through snow to get to the barn. (If that were so, why didn't farmers in New York and Michigan do the same?)

According to Hubka, the primary reason for connected farms was agrarian reform, which was spurred in the 1840s and '50s by competition from new, larger farms in the Midwest. Connected buildings allowed New Englanders to take on home-based industry, such as candle- and cheese-making, while continuing to farm and still have everything centralized. Fashion also played a part: Connected farms became the latest thing, and keeping up with the neighbors was important even then.

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