Wolcott Historical Society News - April 2016
By Florence Goodman
I am amazed at how many old barns we still have standing around our town. This month I will share the location and a brief history of two more barns that were found on farms in our town. They are the Anson G. Lane Farm on Spindle Hill Road and the Passuck Farm on Bound Line Road. These two farms both served as homes and sustenance farms to Russian immigrant families.
Issac Alcott initially owned the land on which the Anson G. Lane House is located at 695 Spindle Hill Road. In the mid 1700s Millicent and Nathaniel Lane purchased the property from Alcott and lived on the farm until the late 1700s. The original house built circa 1753 and 54 acres of land was the home to three generations of Lanes. There were two barns on the property that were built circa1773. Anson Lane took possession of the property from Millicent and Nathaniel. Anson lived on the property until 1859 when he sold the farm to Albert Lane who lived there with his family through the early 1900s. Over the years the Lanes added over 250 acres of land to their farm, but gradually sold off most of it. The Lane Farm was a dairy farm allowing Albert to sell various dairy products to the locals. He also raised corn and apples, and in the winter sold ice.
In 1939 the farm was sold to Mrs. Theriault and then in 1952, Alexander Churchill purchased the farm. In 1957 Marlene Churchill Tosun took ownership of the property and still lives there today. Several years ago, Marlene's daughter Sylvia Tosun took possession of the property. In 2015 she completed an extensive addition with renovations to the home. Sylvia has incorporated the original wood from the dismantled section of the old house in this new addition. She has also used the old windows from the house to create a sunroom off the patio thus highlighting the historic charm of this 18th century home. Sylvia found some wonderful antiques in the barn and has used them in her interior design. A striking example of her creativity is shown in the unique light fixtures she designed from the old blue telephone insulators found in the barn.
The massive barn needed a roof replacement as well as exterior painting. The new red paint applied to this beautiful historic structure enhances its majestic tone. Sylvia planted a large organic garden on the footprint of the second barn that was located north of the existing barn utilizing the original foundation stone as its border, which adds rustic charm. She is currently engaging in the principles of permaculture, a form of natural farming on the property and uses the barn mainly for storage of garden equipment. Last year Sylvia was gracious enough to open her property for our Garden Tour, which allowed many residents to enjoy the beauty of this property.
The Passuck (Passick) Farm is located on Bound Line Road across from where Wolcott High School is found today. In 1868, J.N. Sperry owned the property, but then sold the land to a Mr. Cameron. Early in the 1920s Elizabeth and Jacob Passuck, Russian immigrants living in the north end of Waterbury purchased this 60+-acre parcel of land that bordered Bound Line and Catering Roads. When the Passuck's bought the property it consisted of a house, a small bungalow and a large barn. Along side the barn was a large hand dug well and behind the barn was another area to house the cows. For several years the farm workers lived in the bungalow while Elizabeth and Jacob lived in the house. The Passuck's also rented out small plots of farmland to immigrants from the north end of Waterbury which gave them extra money in those hard times. These farmers mainly grew root vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, beets, and cabbage; these were crops that carried the families through the winter because they stored well. About two years after they moved to the farm, the house burned down and the family had to move into the bungalow behind the original house. Some time later, the Passuck's built two new buildings, a milk house and an attached stable for the horses and storage for the carriage that carried the milk. Jacob and Elizabeth's two daughters helped out on the farm and helped their mother deliver the milk in Waterbury. The milk was stored in large milk cans that were placed in a carriage and driven around the Waterbury neighborhoods then ladled into containers that the families gave them.
In the late 1930s Elizabeth found a job at Scovill Manufacturing Company. They still had the farm, but mainly for sustenance; Elizabeth loved that farm and worked the land until the day she died. In 1934/35 their daughter, Alice, married Joseph Douglas and they built a house on the property, which is still standing today. Their second daughter, Nadya married Frances Bruce sometime later. They built a house on the south side of the property. In the late 1900s the family sold about fourteen acres of land for the building of several homes on Old Farm Road. Most of the land remains in the family today and several family members still live on the property. Mike and Linda Bruce and their family remain on the land and Mike's sister-in-law, Mary Bruce, still owns the bungalow house and property that was part of the original farm. The barn that remains is used for storage.
These barns and the farms on which they were found remain symbols of Wolcott's farming heritage. Though the farms are gone their history is everlasting. If you have knowledge of any old barns in our town and would like to share the information, please contact me at fjgtdg @ gmail.com or call me at 203-879-9818.
(Information for this article was taken from The 175th Anniversary 1796-1971 by John Washburne, The 1986 Historic Resources Inventory by Paul Loether and my Wolcott News farm articles from June and October of 2010)
Tosun barn, 2010.
Newly-painted Tosun barn, 2015.
Tosun garden where the second barn was located.
Passuck barn, 2010.
Passuck barn, 2010, side view.
Passuck/Douglas house on farm, 2010.
Anson Lane farm, circa 1900.
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