History of Clark Farm

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The Short Story:

Guy Clark was born on the farm in 1902 and lived to be 98 years old. He was one of the town's leaders, serving as the Town Moderator, Assessor, and was a member of the Carlisle Fire Department. He and his wife, Dorothy "Dot" ran a successful dairy farm on the land his parents purchased in 1899, and which had been built in 1742.

In 2010, Marjie Findlay and Geoff Freeman bought the property with the intent to restore it to be a community asset: a place where families can come have a connection with the land and their food. They brought in Andrew Rodgers to manage the farm, along with his wife Diana and two children.

 

The Longer Story:

From the Massachusetts Historical Commission for the Carlisle Historical Commission, written in June, 2009

"Green-Clark Farm"

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION   

Describe architectural, structural and landscape features and evaluate in terms of other areas within the community.

The remaining 9.5 acres of the old Green-Clark Farm include all the buildings of the farmstead on the east side of Concord Street and several acres of surrounding hayfields and meadows.   Fieldstone walls extend back into the property from the street, and scattered mature trees dot the area around the buildings.

The mid-18th century 2 ½-story, center-chimney Spaulding-Green Farmhouse is set well back from the road, with a complex of outbuildings standing to its south and southwest.  The house is clad in wood clapboard, has an asphalt shingle roof, and rests on a fieldstone foundation.  Although the 35 x 32’ building has been expanded and altered over the generations, it retains much of its colonial character.  Framing evidence confirms that the original façade is the east side, and that the building was formerly a “saltbox” – a one-room-deep house with a rear lean-to along the west side.  At a relatively early date the lean-to, which may have been the earliest addition to the building, was raised to include a second-story range of rooms.  In 1945, when the house was remodeled by the Clark family, a new front entry was built facing Concord Road.  At that time the windows and many interior features were replaced, as well. The renovation work was done by builder Martin Hojem of Concord.  The symmetrical west façade of the building today is five bays at both stories, and the 1940s entry has a 6-panel door with “bulls-eye” glass in the top two panels, surrounded by flat pilasters.  All of the windows in the building are now 6/6.  The gable ends of the house are two bays deep at each main story and have one window in the gable peak.  A 34 foot-long two-story wing extends parallel to the main house from the southeast rear corner.  Its façade has three widely-spaced windows at each story.  The end of the wing has a 6/6 window centered at each story.  Extending east from the rear of the wing is an attached cross-gabled shed/garage with a pair of paneled sectional doors toward the outer end, and two panel-and-glass doors beside them.   

The Nickles barn (CAR.237), which stands across a driveway southwest of the house, is a building of many parts.  The main sections stand on fieldstone foundations, and all have asphalt shingle roofs.  At the core of the complex is a large three-aisle, six-bay double-ended New England barn, reported to have been built by Gilman Nickles in the 1860s.  Presently clad in wood shingle, the barn is a typical vertical-board outbuilding of the time; the sheathing is applied directly to the posts and rails, and incorporates the interior vertical battens that had come into favor by the 1860s.  Most of the post-and-rail frame is hewn, with tie beams extending from plate to plate, and a single purlin midway up the roof on each side supported by diagonal struts.  On the north end, the slightly off-center wagon entry has a sliding two-part diagonal-board door under a multi-pane transom.  A pair of late 20th-century 6/6 windows is centered high under the gable peak, and a small 6-pane window is located to the right of the main door.  Two tiers of 6-pane stanchion windows line most of the west side; the east (haymow) side has fewer windows in an irregular arrangement.  The 1860s barn is about 72 feet long.  It was lengthened in the early 20th century by the addition of a cow shed under a slightly lower roof.  That extension has a single line of 6-pane stanchion windows along each side wall.  The upper part of the walls of this section are wood shingle; the lower wall is of mortared rubble, about 5 feet high.  A pair of doors with 8 lights over long panels is centered in the south end of the cow shed.  Two 6-pane windows are located to the right of the doors, and a hay door and a 6/6 are positioned above them.   The cow shed still has a pair of distinctive round metal ventilators on its roof ridge.   On the interior, its two rows of metal stanchions are still in place.

The main barn stands over a fieldstone cellar which was formerly largely open along the east side.  Toward the middle of the 20th century the east cellar wall was rebuilt with sections of concrete block and the interior was filled with more cow stanchions.  A small gable-roofed addition, built of the same concrete block and probably at the same time, was either a milk room or an equipment garage.

Three more structures are attached to the main barn.  A one-story gable-roofed early 20th-century milkhouse projects forward from the main façade to the left of the main wagon door.  The milkhouse is clapboarded, and has a pair of vertical board doors in the west side, and a 6/6 window in the north gable end.   A two-story cross-gabled, clapboarded wagon house, probably built in the early years of the 20th century, extends west from the front end of the main barn.  Three 6/6 windows are symmetrically placed in its west gable end – two in the loft level and one in the gable peak.  The fenestration along the wagon house’s long front side is asymmetrical, with a broad wagon opening toward the outer end with a beadboard hay door above it, and a vertical-board door and two windows at the east end.  Finally, a cylindrical wooden stave silo (CAR.969) stands against the outer end of the long cow shed.  Built about 1950, its roof is of the mansard type, with a prominent square door in its south face.

Southeast of the cowshed is a cattle pen or barnyard enclosed by a fieldstone wall with a wooden gate.   Along its northeast side is another major outbuilding – a one-story gable-roofed equipment shed (CAR.238) about 50 feet long, with a high gable-roofed section at the west end.  That building, most of which was built about 1940-50, also has an asphalt roof, and is clad in vertical board.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE    

Explain historical development of the area.  Discuss how this relates to the historical development of the community.

Sources differ as to the initial date and owner of this farm and farmstead, one of the oldest and most picturesque in Carlisle.  In 1941 local historian Martha Wilkins stated that the house was built for Samuel Green around the time of his marriage to Rebeccah Sargent of Stowin 1765.  Donald Lapham, however, in his 1970 Carlisle, Composite Community reported that his deed research indicated that the farmhouse was built a generation earlier, between 1742 and 1746, and that the first owner was Leonard Spaulding.  The presence of a second-story summer beam carved with a large bead tends to support the earlier date.  Both possible ownership sequences are recorded in the narrative below.

In 1742 Leonard Spaulding (b. 1713) of Chelmsford, a cordwainer and husband of Elizabeth Durant, bought land in what is now the south central  part of Carlisle (then Blood’s Farms) from the estate of Jonathan Blood.  In 1758 he purchased 90 acres more. The Spauldings moved to Carlisle from Chelmsford, where the births of the first of their children had been recorded.  The birth or baptism of their fourth child was recorded in Concord in 1746, indicating that by that year they were probably living on the land they had purchased in 1742.  By 1766 Leonard had died, and in that year 1766 Elizabeth Spaulding sold 90 acres, along with part of the buildings standing there, to Samuel Green.  In 1767 the other Spaulding heir, Leonard and Elizabeth’s son Benjamin Spaulding, sold Samuel Green what Donald Lapham believed was the remaining sections of the buildings on this farm:  the west half of the dwelling, half of the kitchen, all of the kitchen cellar, and 2/3 of the barn.  

It is not entirely clear whether the deed descriptions refer to the house that stands today, although the parts of the building listed would correspond to this type of center-chimney dwelling.

Samuel Green (1739-1816) was the younger brother of Leonard and Elizabeth Spaulding’s son-in-law John Green, Jr.  He may have been the Captain Samuel Green (reported by Ruth Wilkins) who was one of three officers from Carlisle during the Revolution.  He signed the petition to create a second district of Carlisle in 1772-73, and was active in the administration of the Second District when it was finally established in 1780.  He was the district’s first Sealer of Hoops and Staves, a position that implies that he may have been a cooper as well as a farmer.  He was on several committees for the finishing of the first Carlisle meetinghouse, and on another committee which staked out the location for the meetinghouse stables in 1783.  In 1788 he was one of three men chosen by the town to decide on the location for the “noon house” on the common.   He also served as Treasurer of the Second District from 1789 to 1802.

Samuel and Rebeccah had six children, three of whom died as infants.  Of their three daughters who grew to adulthood, the eldest, Lydia (1769-1826) married Amos Blood in 1792.  He died in 1819, and later that year she married her first cousin Leonard Green, (1760-1838), one of John Green, Jr.’s sons.  According to Martha Wilkins,Lydia and Leonard moved back here to her father’s farm after their marriage. 

The Greens’ second daughter, Sarah, also married a cousin, Nathan Green, Jr., who died in 1818.  (See 93 Lowell Street.)  The two sisters inherited all or part of their father’s home farm after their parents’ deaths in 1816 and 1817.  It was Lydia and Sarah who, in 1818, sold the land to the town for the first schoolhouse in the center of Carlisle, which was built later that year at the top of the hill north of the farmstead.

It is not known for certain who occupied the house or operated the farm at various times in the 1810s through 1840s in addition to Leonard and Lydia Green.  For some of those years it was apparently Nathan and Sarah’s son Samuel Green (1798-1829), known as Samuel Green 2nd, , and his wife Olive.  Olive Green was the daughter of Leonard Green and his first wife Thankful (Estabrook), and thus became Lydia Green’s stepdaughter after her father’s second marriage.  Samuel Green 2nd did own the property at some point, according to Martha Wilkins.  After his death, Olive married Paul Forbush in 1835, and went to live at ­ 517   Bedford Road.

One early 19th-century owner was Willliam Wilkins (1794-1857).  He was related to the Greens through his mother Lucy (Green) Wllkins, who was a sister of Nathan Green, Jr.  He may have owned the farm for only a short time, however, for by about 1830 he and his family had moved to the former Robbins farm at 8 Acton Street.   

Gilman Nickles (1822-1905) acquired the farm by about 1850 and carried it through the third quarter of the 19th century.  He was the youngest son of Ezekiel Nickles, and his older brother Prescott already owned the adjoining farm to the northwest at 88 Concord Street.  He was related to the Wilkins family by marriage, as in 1852 he had married Lucy Ann Wilkins, daughter of James Warren Wilkins, William Wilkins’ first cousin.  All of Gilman and Lucy’s seven children were born on the farmstead, and several of them worked on the farm as adults.  Mr. Nickles was both a farmer and a teamster, and like Nathaniel Hutchinson, his contemporary on the adjoining farm to the northeast, he transported wagonloads of produce and other items to markets inCambridge,Boston, and Medford.  He built a barn on the property sometime between 1861 and 1870 – apparently the large New England barn that is oriented with its gable-front entry toward the house.  He raised apples, a variety of produce, and a large amount of hay.  He had a small cattle herd, and like Mr. Hutchinson he was one of only a handful of Carlisle farmers at the time who raised sheep.  In 1875 he was taxed for 68 acres of land – about the size the farm was to remain for the next hundred years.

In 1878 Gilman and Lucy Nickles moved to a new house at 26 Westford   Street, and around the same time sold the farm to Ezra Page.  Mr. Page (1827-1897), who came to Carlisle from Rindge, NY in 1877, was largely a dairy farmer.  He also raised poultry, sold apples and cordwood from the trees on his land, and did teaming for storekeepers and others in town.  He and his wife Lucy (Wetherbee) apparently shared the house with their son Herbert Arthur Page, a carpenter, and his wife Mary (Bailey).  For a time Ezra and Herbert owned the farm jointly.  In 1880 they had about twenty cows and were taxed for 67 acres.  They built a small sheep barn, where by 1890 Herbert was keeping 30 sheep.  According to Martha Wilkins, Herbert Page owned the farm outright for about two years in the 1890s.  He was married in 1892, but his wife died four years later.

Later owner Guy Clark told the story of how his family came to own the farm for the next century.  The bank foreclosed on the Page mortgage, and in 1899 Mr. Clark’s mother, Rena Carr, purchased the 67-acre farm.  She was the daughter of Edward J. Carr, a prominent late 19th-century Carlisle farmer who invested in a considerable amount of rural real estate in town. One month after the purchase, in a double wedding ceremony with her brother Alvah Carr,  Miss Carr married farmer William A. Clark (1877-1924).  The Clarks operated the farm as one of Carlisle’s most important early 20th-century truck farms, selling produce primarily to the Boston market.  It was especially well known for its strawberries.  They also continued to run an extensive cordwood and lumber business.  Among the equipment that William Clark acquired early in the 20th century were an automobile, three wagons, and an express wagon.  By 1920 the auto had its own garage, and the four wagons may have been housed in the wagonhouse that was built against the west wall of the barn shortly after 1900.

William Clark had been born in Connecticut, and after coming to Carlislein the early 1890s had worked as a farm hand for Capt. Horace W. Wilson on his large stock farm at 68 and 84 South Street.  In the early years of the Clarks’ ownership of what was still often called “the Page Place,” William’s father Ambrose and his young brother Romey both lived in the household and worked on the farm.   For a short time William was also part owner with his brother-in-law Alvah Carr of the farm at 469 East Street.

Rena Carr Clark had been a teacher in the Carlisleschools before her marriage, working at both the Center and North Schools.  She was one of the first women to serve on the Carlisle School Committee, and became its Secretary in the crucial years of planning before the Highland School was built.  Later in her life she was active in the Carlisle Grange.  In the early 1950s she gave the organization a small parcel of land for the Grange Hall, which was built, largely by Grange volunteers, at 522 Concord Street in 1953.  The Grange subsequently established a local scholarship in her name.  

In 1924 William Clark died of appendicitis at the age of 46.  Until her death in 1960 Rena Clark carried on the farm with the aid of family members and of many farmhands, some of whom came to the farm from orphanages and state institutions.

William and Rena Clark had two sons and two daughters.  The older daughter, Myrtle, who married Irvin Puffer, died at the age of 21, six months after their son Irvin, Jr. was born.  The child grew up under the care of his grandmother, and he, too, assumed some of the farm chores as he grew older.  Irvin Puffer, Jr. (1920-2007) served in the Naval Air Corps during World War II, and in 1946 married June O’Brien.  The young couple spent the early years of their marriage on the Clark farm.  

The Clarks’ younger daughter, Maria(h), lived at home until her marriage, working as a secretary for a Boston law firm.  Their younger son Edward Joseph (“Joe”) Clark became the Carlisle Highway Surveyor and moved across the road to 210 Concord Street.  It was William and Rena’s eldest son Guy Clark who took over as farm manager after his father died, and who eventually was to own the farm through the turn of the 21st century.  Under his management the property again became a dairy farm, although he continued to grow produce as well.  Among the employees hired by Rena Clark in the early 1930s was Dorothy Woods, a farm girl from Vermont.  In 1934 she and Guy were married, and they continued to live in the farmhouse through the end of the 20th century.  

Guy W. Clark (1902-2000) is remembered not only as one of Carlisle’s last dairy farmers, but also for the many roles he played in the town and the wider region.  He held two longtime elected offices – Town Moderator for 16 years, and Assessor for 39 years.  He was a member of the Carlisle Fire Department from 1936 to 1948, and was a Trustee of the Middlesex Institution for Savings in Concord.  He was a member of many regional farm organizations and received several agricultural awards.  One was the Production Award for superior achievement in Eastern Herd Improvement in 1964, which he received for his herd of 30 cows that produced an annual average of 14,345 pounds of milk and 569 pounds of butter fat.  In 1964 he received Carlisle’s Oscar Pederson Outstanding Citizen Award, and in 1978 was the Most Honored Citizen at Old Home Day.  In the 1930s he was the Secretary of the Carlisle Park Committee and helped oversee the building of the ball field and tennis court at Spalding Park, and he was the town Director of the Middlesex Extension Service in 1930s and 1940s.  After the Carlisle Town Hall was built, in 1998 one of the meeting rooms was named the Clark Room in his honor.

Dorothy (“Dot”) Clark worked on the farm with her husband, but was also employed for 27 years at the Gleason Library.  In the late 1960s, when their son Bill (G. William Clark) purchased the Bedford Funeral Home, she worked there part-time as well.  She volunteered in several capacities at the Unitarian Church, especially with the Sunday School.

Guy Clark died in 2000 at the age of 98.  In 2003, Dot Clark sold most of the Clark farm to developer Grant Wilson.  In the course of the transaction she and Mr. Wilson placed 64 acres under permanent conservation restrictions, with the intention of preserving vistas over the land from both Concord and School Streets and providing a public trail between the two roads.  The buildings of the farmstead now occupy their own 9.57-acre parcel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES                       

Atlases/Maps:  1831 Hales; 1856 Walling (G. Nickles); 1875 Beers (G. Nickles);  1889 Walker (E. Page).

Bull, Sidney A.  History of the Town of Carlisle, 1754-1920.  Cambridge,MA:  Murray Printing Co., 1920.

Carlisle Historical Society.  Carlisle. Charleston,SC:  Arcadia Publishing Co., 2005.  Pp. 12, 13, 22.

The Carlisle Mosquito.  9/2/1997; 4/2/1999,10/6/2000,11/30/2001,6/20/2003,8/1/2003,3/9/2007.

Carlisle street directories:  1919, 1931.

Carlisle tax valuations:  various dates.