Last updated: December 26, 2008
One of the objectives of the Barkhamsted Historical Society is to preserve and protect historic buildings in Barkhamsted. The Squires Tavern, located at 100 East River Road in Peoples Forest, is such a building. Currently owned by the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, the structure is no longer being used as a full time residence for DEP staff. Maintenance of the building has been scaled back and its future is not certain. Given the historic value of the Squires Tavern and the uncertainty of its future, the Historical Society has determined that the preservation of the building is a priority. It is our intent, with the consent of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the assistance of the Town of Barkhamsted, to lease the building and to pursue the following goals:
A) Preserve and maintain the Squires Tavern building and implement a plan of restoration.
B) Utilize the building as the headquarters for the Historical Society.
C) Implement a program of historic and cultural events utilizing the Tavern building and grounds.
According to land records, the Squires Tavern building was constructed prior to 1801, and possibly as early as 1795, making it the earliest existing tavern/hotel in Pleasant Valley and one of the oldest in town. The tavern saw a long period of service on the old Wolcott Road and later the Farmington River Turnpike. Bela Squires owned the property for some 40 years until his death in 1861. He operated a farm and blacksmith shop during this period and apparently also ran the tavern for at least a portion of this time. Just how long the building was used as a tavern is not certain. The Ullmann family owned and operated the farm for many years up until the early 1900's. In 1929 the property was given to the State of Connecticut to be part of Peoples Forest. The building was utilized by the state as housing for the "park ranger" until the 1990s. During this time the interior was substantially renovated with the addition of modern mechanical systems, insulation and some changes in the floor plan.
In the summer of 1996 the Barkhamsted Historical Society became aware of the changing status of the building as it became vacant for long periods of time. Given the fact that a very historic brick house on Park Road in Barkhamsted had been torn down after State ownership and occupation, the Historical Society was very concerned about the fate of the Squires Tavern. In December 1996 a letter was sent to State DEP management asking that the building and nearby grounds be leased to the Town of Barkhamsted, with the Historical Society responsible of maintaining the structure and using it as a headquarters. Ongoing talks with the State proved fruitful. The State DEP leased the building to the Town of Barkhamsted in 2001. The Barkhamsted Historical Society is now restoring the building.
Below is a more detailed account of our strategic plan for the Squires Tavern property:
Goal A - Preserve and maintain the Squires Tavern building and implement a plan of restoration.
A-1 In conjunction with the Town of Barkhamsted, secure a long term lease for the Squires Tavern building and grounds from the State of Connecticut- a lease that will allow the Town/Historical Society sufficient control to protect, preserve and utilize the building and that will enhance the possibility of securing grant money for restoration purposes. (done)
A-2 Identify, prioritize and address critical maintenance needs.
a - replace rotted exterior trim and clapboard areas (done)
b - repaint exterior (done)
c - replace roof shingles (shed addition first) (done)
A-3 Gear up fund raising efforts so that the Historical Society can properly preserve, restore and operate the Squires Tavern building and grounds.
a - aggressively pursue grant money (ongoing)
b - pursue an income producing rental unit in the building
c - start a Friends of the Squires Tavern organization (done)
d - increase existing fundraising efforts and look for new ways to raise money
A-4 Retain a historical/restoration expert to assist with a survey of the building, maintenance
procedures and restoration efforts. (done)
A-5 Develop and implement a plan of restoration.
a - with expert assistance, conduct an in-depth survey of the building (done)
b - develop additional input for the critical maintenance plan (done)
c - document the current condition and historic aspects of the building (done)
d - develop a target period of restoration room by room (done)
e - develop a plan of restoration for the building exterior and interior, including
a room by room plan of use (ongoing)
f - set priorities for implementing the plan of restoration (ongoing)
A-6 Work toward listing the Squires Tavern on the National Register of Historic
a - start a process to research and document the historical background of
the property (done)
b - conduct an archeological study of the grounds (done)
c - secure DEP approval for National Register application (done, with conditions)
d - submit the application
A-7 Maintain the highest level of cooperation with the State DEP and to the extent
possible, work to develop a partnership with the DEP in sharing use and upkeep of
the building and grounds. (ongoing)
Goal B - Utilize the building as the headquarters for the Historical Society
B-1 Adapt one or more rooms of the building for the following Historical Society uses:
a - small meetings and programs (done)
b - safe storage of, and public accessibility to the Historical Society collection (ongoing)
c - the public display of historical articles (ongoing)
B-2 Consolidate Historical Society materials and equipment at the Squires Tavern. (done)
B-3 Pursue the establishment of regular hours during which the building is open to the
B-4 Seek to partner with other non-profit organizations (such as the Farmington River Coordinating Committee and the Town of Barkhamsted) in regards to the utilization of the building- for example, as a distribution point for information. (ongoing- already partnered with FRCC)
B-5 Pursuant to the DEP shared use/operation agreement, determine DEP floor space use
Goal C - Utilize the building and grounds as a vehicle for the presentation of historic and cultural
C-1 Take advantage of the Squires Tavern building and grounds to develop an
enhanced program of public events and programming and to implement fixed displays,
both inside and outside. (started)
C-2 Develop close ties with the Stone Museum in order to pursue cooperative efforts
in public displays and programming. (ongoing)
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