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Every old house has its secrets. Recent excavations at Case-Barlow Farm in Hudson have revealed a long-forgotten architectural feature that has astounded historians, the farm caretakers, and, soon, farm visitors.
The barn's shifting north foundation was in need of shoring up along with the earthen bank.
Thanks to a generous donation, and fund raising events, the board of directors were able to schedule the repairs beginning in July. Excavation crews encountered and moved many large boulders but they did not expect to find an enormous brick cistern that had been buried under those boulders. What further amazed them was the almost perfectly intact condition of the bricks and other materials used for creating it.
On examination, local historians John Burnell of Kent and Don Reisig of Tallmadge marveled at the size and quality of the find. They determined that the cistern was built in the 1890s during construction of the barn. It was made of bricks manufactured on site by the Case family, using clay found in the soil across the street from the farm, on what is now Barlow Road. Rainwater was collected from the barn's roof into downspouts, then drained into the cistern's 2,000 gallon storage chamber. Parge, a type of cement lining, held the rainwater in and kept unwanted outside water from leaking into the cistern, so it could provide drinking water for the dairy cattle.
Visitors to the Case-Barlow Farm Fall Harvest Festival will be able to view and photograph the cistern, shown here. The Festival will be on Sept. 14 from noon to 5 p.m.
Donations to the farm will help further excavate and restore the foundation and cistern.