Martin House Farm
The Martin House Farm is a rare example of an 18th and early 19th century farm, which still retains the character of its original setting. It consists of the house, two barns and cultivated fields surrounded by dry stone walls and woodlands. The home was lived in for over 200 years by members of the Martin family. In 1930 it was given to The National Society of The Colonial Dames in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts by Susan Taber Martin Allien, an eighth-generation Martin and a member of the New York Society of The Colonial Dames. In 1979 the Martin House Farm was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, an official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.
John Martin (b.1674) purchased 63 acres of undeveloped land in 1715. In 1728 John Martin the Younger built the house for his wife and eight children (Sometime between this date and 1734, when his son Benjamin was born, the house was built.) The original house consisted of a one-room dwelling with a loft above and an outside chimney. A lean-to, added in the rear, was the first expansion.
In 1814 Holden Martin inherited the property from his father and enlarged the house to create an eight-room cottage with a center chimney, a gambrel roof and an exterior of weather-stained shingles and white trim. In the late 19th century an ell was added at the rear. The design of the house has not been altered since that time.
The present parlor is the original one-room house. The corner posts and wide-board flooring are original, and a portion of the summer beam is exposed. The 1814 kitchen retains its original fireplace with iron crane and is equipped with appropriate cooking utensils and a bake oven on the side. A Martin family musket and powder horn hang proudly hang above the mantel. The fireplace woodwork is a later addition. Also on display is a large collection of pewter pieces any collector would admire.
This historic house is furnished with a number of Martin family pieces and with Mrs. Allien’s collection of American and English antiques. Of special interest is a unique chair collection. The collection includes a rare upholstered side chair with its original leather covering, a wainscot-paneled chair of English Jacobean style and a provincial Queen Anne style armchair with rush seat, turned legs and Portuguese bulb stretchers.
A half-tester bedstead and three flat-tester bedsteads (ca 1750-1820) are dressed in documented bed hangings made of reproduction fabrics, hand sewn by members of the NSCDA. Worth noting are several samplers on the second floor and additionally, the spinning wheels and loom are used for demonstrations.
The barns have recently been restored. Visitors can peek in to the hay barn and visualize days gone by when the farmer was storing his hay there for bedding, covering crops, and feeding animals. The older stone barn provides exhibition space and a venue for special events. Arts and crafts projects are periodically offered at the Farm and children can spread out on the big long tables glancing at the colonial tools on display as they create their treasures to bring home.
One of the notable outreach projects at the Martin House Farm is the Living History Program. Each year all Swansea fifth graders are welcomed in tours of the house conducted by trained Swansea high school students. The student docents wear accurate period attire and engage the students in discussions and activities relating to daily life during the 18th century.
Martin House Farm is a special place, offering a glimpse back in time to when things were simple and life was filled with lots of family time. Time doing chores together, reading together, and laughing together as they listened to the wind blow through the trees in summer and sat together at night in the winter by the fire enjoying each other’s company. A cozy time, we all envision in our hearts when we think of home.