The West Monitor Barn was constructed in 1903 by Uziel Whitcomb. The Whitcomb family represented the best of Vermont; they were hard working, successful, and generous to a fault to their community. In fact, at the turn of the century when agriculture represented 70% of the American economy, the Whitcomb’s operation was one of the most successful.
At a time when the average farm had eight cows, the Whitcomb’s had hundreds. Hay and grain were planted and harvested by hand and horse. More than 175 cows were milked three times a day by hand inside of the West Monitor Barn. The milk went from cow to pail, to can, and then was driven to market by horse and wagon. It was an operation that represented the epitome of hand-powered farming, and was an operation admired nationwide.
The design of the barn was efficient and used gravity to do much of the heavy work. Horse and wagon would pull hay to the high drive and it would be dropped into the hay mow. It was then fed to the cows on the next floor down through chutes. The manure was then dropped to the ground floor through chutes where it was then loaded into wagons and taken back to the fields for fertilization.
Eventually the farm was sold, and as each decade came and went, the barn decayed more and more, until in the late nineties the West Monitor Barn was ready to fall with the next strong wind or ice storm.
It was at this point that Steve Libby, who had been thinking about this barn for many years, was able to convince the Richmond Land Trust to undertake what has become a ten year plus reconstruction project. This small but committed group of visionaries saw what was possible and has never looked back.
About 40% of the timbers in the reconstructed barn are original and the rest have been carefully and accurately re-fabricated. In addition, the stone foundation and walls are all original stone – quarried by hand from the back fields.
The goal was to rebuild the barn exactly as it had been built. From an historical perspective, this Richmond Monitor Barn was and is a National Treasure – and has become recognized as important Vermont icons. During your visit, please feel free to take a step back in time, and explore the unusual splendor of the West Monitor Barn.
Please scroll down to continue viewing a photograph timeline of the West Monitor Barn restoration project.