Thursday, January 3, 2013

Barn: School Street Barn - Agawam, MA

Interesting Places I've Photographed
School Street Barn
Agawam, MA 01001
Topic: Barns

GPS: N42° 04.435; W072° 35.560

Quick Description: 

The School Street Barn  is a reminder of New England agricultural heritage. It has just been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Long Description:

The School Street Barn is located at the site of the former prison farm for the York Street Jail, Springfield, MA., which was once run by the Hampden County House of Corrections. Prisons worked the farm as they were guarded by the local sheriff.

The Prison Farm closed down in the early 1970’s and the land remained unused for many years. In 1998 Hampden County government was abolished and the town of Agawam took possession of the property. It remained unused for many years.

Work began to convert the farm site to a community park - the School Street Park. This abandoned Old Red Barn, on School Street, was left untouched and unused. It still contains the original post and beam animal stalls and a huge hayloft. The barn interior is not open to the public until pending safety issues can be remedied.

Historic barns such as these are disappearing at an alarming rate from the New England landscape because their construction often cannot handle the harsh New England winters.

National Register Of Historic Places Description:

"The School Street Barn in Hampden County, Massachusetts, stands as the last remaining 19th-century barn in Agawam Center. In use as a working barn for approximately 100 years, the School Street Barn is significant for its uncommon use as a major component of a city jail farm, as distinct from a prison farm. In a project that was understood at its time as ground-breaking, the barn was used for farming activities of the Springfield jail that enabled the jail system to: put its minor offenders to work, to raise enough produce to feed inmates, and to save considerable amounts of money. The barn, a central part of the jail’s farm program, was where the farm produce was processed, animals were housed and fed, and equipment was stored. Impetus for buying the farmland came from Hampden County Sherriff David J, Manning, who decided to create a farm jail program for inmates of Springfield’s York Street jail. Manning aimed to bring food into the system and to use his minor offenders (mostly arrested for drunkenness) as farmhands. In 1934, the county bought the first small amount of acreage in Agawam Center, and the School Street Barn farmland was added to the jail farm in two purchases made in 1943 and 1949."

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