Coggeshall Farm gets $150K donation for barn

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Thanks to $150,000 in matching funding from Bristol Marine and its owners Andy Tyska and Gerry Lenfest, Coggeshall Farm Museum is one step closer to erecting a new barn on its 48-acre property.

The barn is a critical building block for the Farm’s future, said Jon Larason, executive director of the farm. It will give staff and volunteers the ability to better care for the Farm’s rare, heritage breed livestock.

The barn will also house space for educational programming so outreach can take place on a year-round basis, particularly to students.

"Coggeshall Farm is the only living history farm in the state," Mr. Larason said. "It's a working restoration of a late 18th century farm where visitors can experience life in a pre-industrial era, enjoy a pastoral setting, and learn about sustainable farming practices."

Most farm museums have a historically accurate barn that's in front of the house, Mr. Larason said. They also have a behind-the-scenes barn where animals are kept, and employees can do work to maintain the farm. Coggeshall's barn will serve as both.

"We have to have a barn where we can do exhibits," Mr. Larason said. "We're very constrained by weather. We recently had our maple-sugaring over the weekend and it was largely attended.

"Last year, with Nemo, we had two people because the weekend of the event was the same as the storm."

The only indoor space for programs is inside Coggeshall’s 18th century farmhouse, with small rooms that can only accommodate groups of fewer than 10 people.

"Our group visits have gone up over the past four years," Mr. Larason said. "We have approximately three-and-a-half times more groups that visit Coggeshall."

The funds will be used to support day-to-day operations, as well as help fund a feasibility study and to establish a concept for the barn. Once that work is completed in early summer 2014, construction estimates will be gathered and a capital campaign will be launched. The hope is to break ground sometime in 2015, Mr. Tyska said.

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