The 1890 Farm Manager’s House was built with multiple purposes in mind to support Billings Farm’s expanding agricultural operations. Meticulously restored to its 19th century heyday, the farm house contains a business office for then farm manager, George Aitken, a private living space for his family, a creamery for the production of butter, and an adjoining ice house. Visitors can also explore the Farmstead Gardens and apple orchard, located just outside the farmhouse.
Considered state-of-the-art when built in 1890, the farmhouse has features quite uncommon for the time. These include cutting-edge creamery equipment, as well as conveniences such as hot running water, central heat, gas lighting, and an indoor bathroom.
The 1890 Farm Manager’s House exemplifies Billings Farm’s role as a model dairy operation and Frederick Billings’ determination to apply progressive solutions to practical agricultural problems of the times. Visitors will be greeted by interpreters who take you back in time, answering questions about the house and its occupants. Self-guided tours based on varied themes are also available. Depending on the time of year, there are programs featuring 1890’s artifacts and pastimes, cooking demonstrations and tastings, children’s book readings and more.
Be sure to check our daily schedule for more information on what’s happening the day of your visit.
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The KitchenThe centerpiece of the kitchen, perhaps the most important room in the house, is the cast-iron woodstove where the family’s meals were prepared and which provided hot water for use throughout the house (a luxury during the 1890s). Experience programs and demonstrations throughout the year, from watching our skilled staff cook late 19th century fare, to helping us make savory treats using fresh produce harvested from our heirloom garden.
The Sitting RoomThe spacious sitting room functioned as the Aitken family’s private space and features typical furnishings of the day and popular literature of the period. During special programs, families are welcome to play marbles and tiddlywinks, or try our stereoscope, all popular pastimes of the day.
The Farm OfficeThe Farm Office is the only room in the house with several pieces of original furniture, including George Aitken’s upright desk. Here, visitors can learn what it took to run a late 19th century dairy farm, and explore samples of Aitken’s correspondence and marketing materials.
The ParlorThe most formal room in the house is the parlor, which served primarily as a place for the Aitkens to entertain visitors and for occasions such as weddings and funerals. As distinct formal and informal rooms were uncommon in Vermont homes of the period, the presence of the parlor serves as further evidence of Frederick Billings’ desire to make the farmhouse as modern and comfortable as possible.
The CreameryIn the basement creamery, fresh cream from the Billings Jersey herd was churned into butter – 5,000 pounds of which was produced annually and sold via rail to customers in Boston, New York, and beyond. The machinery includes two Cooley Creamers and a water-powered Davis Swing Churn, state-of-the-art equipment that contributed to Billings Farm’s reputation as one of the most progressive dairy operations in New England.