I'm kind of obsessed with old outbuildings. I LOVE them and find so many uses for outbuildings on today's modern homestead or small farm.
|likely and old dairy barn, Alamance County, NC|
|gabled barn, Pamlico County, NC|
|either a privy or smokehouse, Franklin County, NC|
A couple hundred years ago and earlier outbuildings were essential to the farmer-- a profession in which the majority of Americans participated. A farm was not complete without a handful of dependencies including structures such as:
- detached kitchen
- privy (or outhouse, sometimes called a "necessary")
-spring house or dairy
- corn crib
- livestock barn
- chicken house
- tobacco barn
- storage sheds for hay or grain storage
- pack houses
- dairy barn
- horse barn or carriage house
- well house
- canning shed
|small cottage possibly used for overseerer of farm or servants cottage, Pamlico County, NC|
|former smokehouse, Yancey County, NC|
|spring house, Yancey County, NC|
|most likely a former dairy barn, Iredell County, NC|
Most farms didn't necessarily contain all these outbuildings, but at least a handful of them were needed. Even older urban homes sometimes contained a privy, detached kitchen (if in the South), and a carriage house.
|farmstead with collection of surviving outbuildings, Duplin County, NC|
The placement of outbuildings either behind or to the side of the main residence or farmhouse often followed a pattern depending on geographical region or type and purpose of the farm. Several architectural historians have looked at this in their research and one of my favorite books on the subject is John Michael Vlach's Back of the Big House.
|Livestock barn, log construction double crib, Hoke County, NC|
Most outbuildings were constructed with wood as the primary material but there are many also constructed of stone, brick, stucco or other hardy materials. More recently farm outbuildings have been commonly built with concrete or metal. I still think outbuildings are incredibly versatile today for the modern homesteader. First of all, we can never have enough storage, and many older outbuildings can even function in their original purposes. Minor updates and careful repairs may be all that are needed to stabilize and preserve historic outbuildings.
I know wherever our family ends up buying a permanent home I hope the property comes with a variety of old outbuildings- I can find uses for all of them!