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On the trail of town’s barn history

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance in association with the Francestown Improvement and Historical Society will hold a lecture and tour of six historic barns on July 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The tours will follow historic barns, stonewalls and pastoral landscapes of the town, which is rich with agricultural history and well-preserved 18th and 19th century buildings.

Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. at the 1801 Old Meeting House of Francestown, followed at 10 a.m. by an illustrated lecture on “The History of Agriculture as Told by Barns” presented by John Porter, co-author of Preserving Old Barns. Frank Hanchett, Francestown Barn Survey Committee, will briefly speak about barn architecture specific to Francestown and the town-wide barn survey that catalogued over 80 barns.

A self-guided tour of six Francestown barns follows the lecture and runs from noon to 4 p.m. A barn specialist will be available at each barn to answer questions about architectural features, framing styles, and agricultural uses.

Highlights of the tour include an 18th century English barn that is believed to be one of the oldest barns in town, and a large 1860 dairy barn with an unusual divided set of interior stone stairs that allowed cows to be led into two separate tie-up areas. Visitors will also tour a barn that has been converted to a guesthouse.

“These timber frame structures help tell the story of the region’s diverse agricultural history from subsistence farming of the 18th century, through the sheep boom, to the late 19th century when dairy became the major NH industry. It’s gratifying to see that so many of these barns are still standing and being used in some way by their owners today,” said Beverly Thomas, Program Associate at the Preservation Alliance and coordinator of the tour.

The cost is $30 for members of sponsoring organizations; $40 for non-members; $5 discount if purchased by July 23. An optional boxed lunch of $8 must be purchased by July 23. For more information or to register call 603-224-2281 or email admin@ nhpreservation.org.

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