Rochester Historical Society to host “The History of Agriculture as Told by Barns” on 5/9

May 6, 2024

The Rochester Historical Society and Museum will host “The History of Agriculture as Told by Barns” on May 9, starting at 6:00 pm.

Barns can tell us a great deal about the history of agriculture in New Hampshire. In the colonial period, New Hampshire was a rural, agrarian state and small subsistence farms dotted the landscape. An important part of these farmsteads was the barn, which housed animals and stored crops. Early barns used traditional building methods and followed the English barn style, with a low-pitched roof and doors under the eaves. As time went on, the farms expanded to accommodate changes in agriculture.

This presentation will follow the progression of barn styles that evolved to handle the increased productivity required to meet the needs of a growing population and respond to changes in society caused by the railroad and the Industrial Revolution. John C. Porter, author of Preserving Old Barns: Preventing the Loss of a Valuable Resource, will demonstrate how these majestic barn structures represent Yankee ingenuity, hard work, and skilled craftsmanship, as well as providing a link to our past that adds to the state’s scenic beauty.

John Porter was raised on a dairy farm in Lebanon, NH. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. Degree in Animal Science, and then went on to get a master’s degree from Cornell University in Animal Nutrition and Farm Management. In 2005, he earned a master’s degree in Education Administration from Bob Jones University.

He served as a dairy specialist for the UNH Cooperative Extension from 1974 until his retirement in 2006. He still works part-time for UNH, specializing in structures and farmstead planning. In 2001, he co-authored the book Preserving Old Barns; in 2007, he was editor and contributing author of “The History and Economics of the New Hampshire Dairy Industry”; in 2011 was a contributing author of Crosscurrents of Change: Concord, NH in the 20th Century, an updated history of Concord, NH; and in 2019 he is publishing the new edition of Preserving Old Barns.

The Rochester Historical Society and Museum is located on Hanson Street, in downtown Rochester. Visit to learn more.

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