Historic Wilton barn gets new roof
Work is expected to be completed today, July 19, on a new roof at the George Abbott Barn on the Wilton Historical Society’s museum complex at 224 Danbury Road.
The barn, which dates to about 1860, is listed on the Connecticut Trust’s Historic Barns website. With the 20-year-old wood roof showing signs of wear with many curling and splitting shingles, the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Foundation provided a matching grant to help get the job done.
The barn and the c.1890 Abbott Blacksmith shop were moved to the complex to save them from demolition. In 1999 the disassembled barn arrived from its previous location on Hurlbutt Street and was re-assembled under the watchful eye of master builder and emeritus trustee Walter R.T. Smith (1922-2015).
An excellent example of the English bank-style barn, it is a survivor of Wilton’s agricultural past. Within it is a permanent exhibition of more than 600 tools —Tools of the Trades — typically used by tradesmen in this area. Visitors may see house building and woodworking, broom, shoe, hat, basket-making, coopering, fishing and oystering, hay, grain and ice harvesting tools.
There is an emphasis on tools with a local provenance and those made by the G.W. Bradley Company of Weston, founded 1812. Most of these historic tools were contributed from Smith’s extensive collection.
A favorite spot in the complex for children, it is where the historical society’s Saturday education programs take place and it is also where school children learn about aspects of Colonial life such as spoke-shaving and basket-weaving.
The lower level of the barn provides much-needed storage space and has also been used for exhibitions and social events.
The barn is just one of 18 historic structures with wood roofs the society cares for, making historic preservation a round-the-clock job.