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Valley Falls Farm
Valley Falls Farm, located at the corner of Bolton Road and Valley Falls Road, overlooks Valley Falls Park and is the property of the Friends Of Valley Falls, a private nonprofit organization. It is preserved for both its scenic beauty and historical value. It includes the farmhouse, barn, stable and several smaller buildings.
Railroad Brook flowing through Valley Falls Park was the site of one of the town's earliest mills, for which the pond was created. Around the mill were other buildings and the homes of those working in the mills. Because of the unique attractions of the area it became, over time, the home or summer estate of a number of wealthy families.
The first mention of the farm was its purchase in 1836 by ANSON LYMAN. He bought "97 acres including an oil mill and a barn;" and another parcel "including an old house standing thereon." This combined property was identified as the Anson Lyman farm for almost 30 years from 1836 to 1864. After Lyman's death the 150 acres which he had accumulated, including the farm and mill, were sold to SAMUEL F. BRADLEY.
In 1871 Bradley sold the 150 acre 'Anson Lyman Farm' to CHRISTIAN SHARPS of Philadelphia for $9,000. Christian Sharps was best known as the inventor of the Sharps rifle, considered one of the finest carried by Union Soldiers during the Civil War. Some of his rifles were manufactured in Hartford. He established a trout breeding business on the "Bradley/Anson Lyman Farm." After his sudden death in 1874 the trout raising facility was abandoned and his family left Vernon. Samuel Bradley reclaimed the property and over the next 35 years it was transferred among purchasers on at least ten occasions. Purchasers came from as far as New York City and Buffalo to buy the famous man's trout farm.
» Read about Christian Sharps Trout Farm
In 1877 the mill burned ending this activity at Valley Falls.
In 1910, the property, still called the Christian Sharps farm, was sold to HANS MUNCHOW, supposedly from Hungarian aristocracy. His demeanor and lifestyle while living in Vernon seemed to confirm this. He was often seen riding his horses over his land or riding in his carriage with one or two of his Great Danes. In addition to the existing house on the property, he was responsible for building the horse stables and out-buildings on the north side of Valley Falls Road. He is also credited with rebuilding the red barn which stands opposite the house. Only two years later, Munchow transferred this property to his wife, including tax liens and an attachment. He apparently left Vernon (supposedly to go to Hollywood to produce motion pictures) and within a year of that transfer (1913) Mrs. Munchow sold the land to ANNA WERNER of Fredricksburg, Virginia and also left.
In 1915, only two years after she purchased the Munchow/Sharps farm, Anna Werner sold the 157 acres to MARY BATTERSON BEACH, who purchased the property for her husband, DR. CHARLES C. BEACH and herself. Mrs. Beach was the daughter of James Batterson, founder of the Traveler's Insurance Company.
Within the next two years, the Beach Family built a large formally landscaped summer home on Bolton Road. Over time, Mrs. Beach purchased an additional 109 acres, some of which was added to the original 157 acre holdings thereby extending that section to the Bolton town line. Additional acreage was purchased along the east and west sides of Bolton Road and along Hatch Hill. The former Anson Lyman/Christian Sharps/Munchow farm was brought to full operation under the Beach family's ownership. Members of the Darico family, long-time local farmers, were hired as full-time managers.
Dr. Beach thoroughly enjoyed the rural atmosphere. Whenever he could arrange time away from his medical practice, he could be found strolling around the farm and even more often, fishing in the stream and pond. In addition, the farm had vegetable gardens, pastures, chickens and pigs. Milk and eggs in addition to the produce from the fields were stored in cool, underground cellars, or marketed in Hartford and surrounding towns. The still-handsome barn on the property housed the small milking herd.
From 1934 aerial photos it appears the area on either side of Bolton Road north of Hatch Hill Road was farmed extensively, probably as part of Valley Falls Farm.
In 1958 Charles Beach sold the house and all the Beach land holdings to a land development company. Although some pieces of the property along Bolton Road were sold to individuals by the company, the land "in the valley" remained unsold. When Jones and Lyon decided that residential development in the valley area of the land was not feasible, it was offered for sale.
The Valley Falls Park section of the property was eventually purchased by the town of Vernon in 1962, while the Darico Family bought the farm property. In 2001 the farm and outbuildings were saved when the Friends of Valley Falls purchased the property.
Source: "History of Valley Falls Park" by CAROL & RONALD BURKE. The Burke's bought the Beach House in 1976 where they currently reside. Read full article.
The 10-acre Valley Falls Farm is a local historic property and is one of the loveliest vistas in Vernon. The seven buildings include a the house, an historic stable. Although the Red Barn is owned by the Town of Vernon it was part of the farm.
» See descriptions of each building on the farm.
Other Features of the Farm
In addition to the farm buildings the farm also includes an herb garden, an historic bell, an active colony of bees and an outdoor display of older farm implements.
»Learn more about each.
Artists Day At The Farm
The primary activity at the farm the public attens is the biennial Artists' Day at which Connecticut artists paint 'en plein air'.
This was originally a fundraiser for the Friends with an auction of the paintings held at mid afternoon; but for recent fairs the purpose is just to increase awareness of the farm. The event is co-sponsored by the Vernon Arts Commission, and the Vernon Parks and Recreation Department.
Plans For The Future
Work on the red barn has been ongoing and is currently used for Park and Rec youth activities and education and for annual FOVF meetings.
The farmhouse is rented providing income to maintain the farm.
At some point the Friends would like to turn the farm and stable into a farm museum. For now there is enough challenge maintaining the property. Please consider joining the Friends of Valley Falls who have done so much to preserve our heritage. And volunteers are always welcome to help maintain the farm.