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A Brief History of The Salem Herbfarm

Old Car and BarnThe 12 acre farm at 320 Hartford Road has been owned by Anne and Joe Duncan since October of 1991 when it was deeded to Anne by her aunt, Margaret Mitchell. The earliest relative to own the property was Anne's great uncle, Fred Washburn. Uncle Fred purchased the farm along with another 52 acre parcel from Julia Raymond Douglas in 1915 for $3,000. The purchase price included "the land and all buildings, one cow and calf, 20 hens, carriages, sleds, hay, harnesses and farming tools." In 1919 Uncle Fred passed the property on to his niece, Alice Mitchell, and her husband, Edward (Anne's Grandparents). Alice and Edward managed a small dairy herd on the farm from the 1920s. They also served the town of Salem for several years: Nanny Alice as the Judge of Probate and Edward as the First Selectman. When Edward died in 1981 the farm was passed to his daughter, Margaret Mitchell.

House Circa 1915In 1915 the farm buildings included the main house, a carriage house, chicken coop, the barn, an ice house and a horse barn. According to family records from 1915, the main house dates from about 1840. But the existing structured actually consists of two additions brought on to the property and joined to the main house. The carriage house and barn date from 1866 and 1867, respectively. Judge Austin O. Gallup owned the farm then. Long ago the barn was used for sheltering and milking a small herd of dairy cows and storing hay and feeds. The last dairy cow left the farm in the early 1970s.


Old FencelineUntil about 1930 the barn had a shed roof on the south side extending out about 15 feet. More recently the barn has been used exclusively for storing hay harvested and used by a local Salem farmer. The garage, now outfitted as the Salem Herbfarm Woodshop, was built in the 1930s where an old chicken coop used to be. The horse barn and ice house, originally located 75 to 100 feet south of the main barn, wasted away in the 1920s and 30s. Anne's grandfather also had a large silo built on the southeast corner of the barn in the 1920s, but it blew down in the great hurricane of 1938.