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Barns of Westport


Westport’s main economy in its early years was subsistence agriculture. Farm families grew their own food; raised their own livestock; made their own clothing; and made their homes, barns and tools from lumber provided by the trees on their land. Excess farm products earned cash for those items that could not be provided on the family farmstead.


The barns, silos, potato houses, and corn cribs were the operational center of Westport’s agricultural society, providing processing facilities, protection for animals, and storage for tools, working field implements, and vital foodstuffs. They were very important structures on the farm.


From early subsistence crop growing, Westport moved into commercial potato farming, and gradually grew into one of the largest dairy communities in New England. Barn structures followed suit including introduction of the milking barn and grain silos. Early barn structures probably incorporated European construction techniques which eventually Americanized as functionality overcame tradition.


The barn has such an enduring attraction that many Westport families have either rebuilt or constructed new gentlemen’s barns that have become testaments to an earlier heritage, not to mention handy storage areas for lawn and garden equipment, and recreational vehicles.


Read about 1899 Westport to understand its origins.


The Americanization of the BARN


Today, one may find in Westport a rich mix of restored 18th century barns intermixed with tired working barns, abandoned barns, grain and feed silos, and recently refurbished barns used for commercial purposes. Many historically significant, older barns are in a serious state of neglect. This photo essay illustrates another rural flavor of Westport, and is an attempt to pictorially preserve our rich cultural legacy before it is lost forever.


Regrettably, we find that some of our early 20th century farms have been abandoned and overgrown, and some have been developed into sprawling residential neighborhoods. However, with the help of community preservation funds, agricultural preservation restrictions, and land trust protection, some of Westport’s early character is being preserved, from Old Bedford Road, to Old Pine Hill Road, to picturesque Old Harbor Road. The Town Farm on Drift Road is a pristine example of land and building preservation at its best.


Read the news story about the Town (Poor) Farm Grand Opening.  - Story by the Dartmouth Chronicle


View photo album of the Town (Poor) Farm Grand Opening. - Photo Album by Everything Westport™


Get a trail and walking map of the Westport Town (Poor) Farm. - Map supplied by the Westport Land Trust


Information about the Westport Town (Poor) Farm - by The Trustees of Reservations

Read 1956 Standard Times article about the closing of the Town Poor Farm (infirmary).

Farming still remains the chief use of the land, with dairy farms, specialty produce, and vineyards being the most prominent. This photo essay illustrates yet another flavor of rural Westport. Westport farming on the rise? Read the story below.



Restoration of Westport Town Farm  Read about it >




WESTPORT — As you walk past the farmhouse and down towards the first stonewall barway, your view expands to the pastures below, the herd of cows, and the river gently sparkling. The Westport Town Farm represents an idyllic place in a town that often speaks of the past, but is not too busy to listen for the future.


The Town Farm, or the Poor Farm as it was known, stands proudly on its original foundations, but now rather than being a homestead, or helping the poor, it is open to all, a haven for anyone.

The Town Farm is still owned by the Town of Westport, but the property is managed by the Trustees of Reservations.

 . . . read the full story



We owe much to the organizations listed below. Their efforts along with private citizens and state matching funds have enabled Westport officials to institute preservation efforts for many of Westport’s oldest farms and farm buildings.


                         Click on each of the logos below to learn more about our community’s preservation efforts.



Westport Land Conservation Trust



The Trustees of Reservations



Westport Community Preservation Committee



Dartmouth Natural Resource Trust




Mass Environmental Trust




Mass Community Preservation Act





Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (APR)







View more photos of Barns of Westport. Updated as of January 12, 2008.



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