This imposing structure is the focal point for those who come to visit The Dudley Farm Museum, tour its grounds, and view its exhibits. The grounds, and especially this barn, are favorite subjects for artists and photographers. Impressively visible at the junction of State Routes 77 and 80, it reminds locals of Guilford’s agricultural heritage and the significance of agriculture in the establishment of North Guilford as an agrarian part of the greater Guilford community.
“The big barn, as well as the rest of the Dudley Farm, has been a North Guilford icon for well over a century, remaining constant as farming in our town has changed. I am pleased that we can see its preservation go forward,” says Oliver (Buster) Scranton, Foundation past president.
History of the Big Barn
The Big Barn complex is made up of three barns and additions assembled over a period of about eighty years.
The first barn was an embankment barn facing south constructed shortly before the house was built in 1844. It has a traditional hay loft on the west side with a threshing or wagon floor on the east. Below are two stalls for the work animals.
The second construction was the northern portion of the east barn. This barn housed animals below and tools above. The little sleigh shed was added about this same time.
The third and largest was likely built sometime after 1860 to house the milk cows that Erastus Dudley was breeding. The early dairy he established housed eight cows. There is some evidence that the large barn may have been shortened during construction or perhaps even moved due to the unusual structure and framing dimensions.
In 1926 the dairy was expanded to the south with a shed addition for more cows and the east barn was lengthened to include a granary.
Come by, look at our beautiful barn, gaze at our gardens—take a seat—maybe have a picnic. The Dudley Farm is a quiet space in this crazy world.
Big Barn Project: Granary Section and North End are Completed
Phase I and Phase II of the Big Barn Project are DONE! Now on to the next part.
Big Barn Project (BBP) Update
By Bill Black
Continuing to move forward, the second phase of the Big Barn Project (BBP), which is the north side of the barn complex is finished. Once again we are extremely happy with the work East Guilford Builders has done. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel—the barn is getting closer to its future use as additional display area for the Museum.
Bids have been sent out for the final phase, the front portion of the barn facing Route 77. This is the biggest section and, of course, will be the most costly of the three phases. As soon as the bids are analyzed and a builder chosen, the third phase will begin. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some portion of our annual December Holiday Fair take place in the barn. For the past two years our October Harvest Fair has been using both completed sections.
Generous individual donations and support from the Summer Hill Foundation along with various grants from the North Guilford Volunteer Fire Company, the Guilford Savings Bank, Connex Credit Union, and the 1772 Foundation, have enabled us to fund the first two phases of the BBP, with the added benefit of moving ahead of the original time frame for completing the entire structural portion of the barn complex.
And speaking of donations, we are eternally gratefully for the responses we have received in the past and we hope the progress we have achieved will encourage others to donate. And lastly the thoughtfulness of a North Guilford resident to include The Dudley Foundation in his will has made an impact on both the BBP and other Museum projects. This is a terrific way to preserve the future of the Farm.
The pursuit of various funding sources continues as we strive to turn the Big Barn into a museum and a farm animal habitat everyone in Guilford will be proud of. We thank everyone for their past donations and any future ones they may be considering.