rural architecture : MAINE
The website titled RURAL ARCHITECTURE : MAINE is a sequel to a previous website on this subject titled RURAL ARCHITECTURE : ITALY. The objective is to present information on the variety of landscapes and farm buildings
located in rural Maine.
THE SETTLEMENT OF MAINE
The settlement of Maine beyond the coastal villages occurred when farm families began migrating north from
southern New England into the wilderness of the Province of Maine during the period from 1760 through the 18th Century. Initially the early migration was slow and difficult. An era of rapid expansion occurred after the War of Independence and the War of 1812, when the older New England villages were becoming crowded and there was
a scarcity of farmland. Small farmers needed new and inexpensive tracts of land to satisfy their desires for simple
lives on private farms, free from landlords or the need to sell their labor. They wanted to produce what their families needed independently.
The view of the Territory of Maine from one of the bald-topped mountains revealed a forested landscape containing rivers, lakes, swamps and rolling hills. The region had been inhabited for 1000 years by the Wabanaki Indian Tribes
who, over time, had cleared parcels of land. They had cultivated beans, squash, corn and other crops with skill. Their land was gradually encroached upon and allocated for farm settlement.
The development of a farm was challenging. A minimum of twenty acres of forest needed to be cleared to support minimal family needs. Land with hardwood trees provided the richest soil. After the farmer had cleared the first five acres of forest, he constructed a small cabin of oak logs so that his family could move to Maine to join him. More land was cleared each year and wheat, rye, corn, potatoes and other basic garden crops were planted. Then a simple barn was constructed for the housing of a few farm animals and for storage. Progress continued for a number of years unti
it was possible for the farmer to build a larger frame house so that the family would be more comfortable. Over time some farms grew in size, with a number of connected buildings often referred to as "big house, little house, back house, barn". The two following images reflect the beginning and end of the process of founding a farm in Maine.
A series of future posts also titled RURAL ARCHITECTURE : MAINE will contain articles to illustrate the rural land and farm buildings of Maine, including photographs, drawings, details, and descriptions.
References: A History of Maine Agriculture 1604 - 1860
by Clarence Day ( 1954 )
Liberty Men and Great Proprietors : The Revolutionary Settlement of the Maine Frontier, 1760 - 1820
by Alan Taylor ( 1990 )
Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn : The Connected Farm Buildings of New England
by Thomas C. Hubka ( 1984 )
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