Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Harvesting the Grains at Longstreet Farm

Harvesting the Grains at Longstreet Farm
Written by NJ Historian

New Jersey has historically been known as the Garden State; however New Jersey has been losing farmland at an alarming rate due to suburban sprawl. Thanks to farmland preservation efforts, some of these prime pieces of real estate have been preserved forever for agricultural purposes. In Monmouth County, the historic Longstreet Farm serves as a reminder of how important agriculture was in the 1890s and remains to be in New Jersey today.

Longstreet Farm was among the largest and most prosperous farms in Holmdel. The original 495 acres were purchased in 1806 by Hendrick Longstreet from several smaller adjoining farms. During the 1890s, it was owned by Hendrick’s daughter Mary Ann Longstreet, who was in her seventies. The farm was managed at that time by Hendrick's great-grandson Jonathan I. Holmes, who was in his twenties. During the 1890s, Longstreet was a general farm on which tenant farmers raised cereal grains, livestock, and potatoes as a cash crop.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, farm practices in Monmouth County were changing in response to competition from mid-western farmers and to mechanization sparked by the Industrial Revolution. General farms that primarily used horse power, such as Longstreet Farm, were slowly being replaced by farms which relied on market gardens and used steam and gasoline power. In the 1890s, Longstreet Farm was considered an old-style farm.

Jonathan I. Holmes inherited the farm in 1911 from his aunt, Mary Ann Longstreet. The farm remained in the family until it was purchased by the Monmouth County Park System in 1967 from Jonathan's daughter and heir, Mary Longstreet Holmes Duncan. The farm opened to public in 1972 and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

Today, the farm is comprised of a fourteen room Federal-style farmhouse, a Dutch barn, and a collection of nineteenth century outbuildings. The Longstreet Farmhouse was built in three sections between 1770 and 1840. The original section was a two-room Dutch cottage. The house was expanded and redesigned periodically, as was typical to account for changing needs and evolving families. In the 1790s, the large two-story main block of the home was added. A larger kitchen and the present porch were added circa 1840. The interior of the home has been restored to the late Victorian style.

The grounds of Longstreet Farm include a Dutch barn, built in 1792. The barn has steeply pitched gable roofs that slope close to the ground and high wagon doors that are located at the center of each gable end. Two cow houses, circa 1820 and 1860, and reconstructed hog and chicken houses today still hold their respective tenants as part of the living farm. Visitors will also find other farm essentials such as an ice house (circa 1880), privy (circa 1900), potato cellar (circa 1890), wagon house (circa 1830), corn crib (circa 1890), stable (circa 1860) and carriage house (circa 1890).

Visiting Longstreet Farm is like taking a step back in time, when you rose at sun-up and ended the day at sun-down, farm chores were on your to-do list, and you hoped the dry spell would end soon so that your fall harvest was successful.

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The photos in this post are especially beautiful. I really like the angle you chose in the last shot, as well as the juxtaposition of the green grass and deep blue sky.

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