LOST MANSFIELD #1: THE FARWELL HOUSE, STORRS. In 1736 Isaac Farwell settled his family on a 100-acre farm in North Mansfield. Sometime between 1746 and 1756, his son John built a center-chimney saltbox dwelling near his parent’s home.
This house was located at the intersection of what is now Horsebarn Hill Road and Route 195. The current barn on the site was built in 1870, replacing an earlier barn. The farm remained in the Farwell family until 1908, when it was purchased by George Jacobson.
In 1911, George Jacobson sold the former Farwell farm to the State and it became part of the Connecticut Agricultural College campus, now UConn. Thereafter, the barn and surrounding acreage were utilized for the school’s agricultural program. For a while the house served as a faculty cottage. Later it was converted into a two-family rental property and was occupied by a series of university employees and their families. By the mid-1970s, it had fallen into a sad state of disrepair. In its final year, it stood vacant and neglected.
University officials determined that it would be too expensive to repair the Farwell house and make it habitable again. The least costly solution was to burn it. On November 27, 1976, the eighteenth-century house was burned as part of a fire training exercise. Twelve area fire departments took part in the drill. Within a few hours, the house that had stood for over 220 years was gone.
The community reacted with outrage. It was the year of the nation’s Bicentennial and for months Mansfield had been celebrating its colonial history. In the weeks following the burning, multiple articles and editorials appeared in area newspapers criticizing the university’s action. Public concern over the loss of the Farwell house eventually led to the inventorying of the historic buildings on campus and their listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
This series is made possible by a Capacity Building Grant from The Last Green Valley, Inc.