1890 Farm Manager’s House & Creamery
The 1890 Farm Manager’s House was built as a multi-purpose addition to Frederick Billings’s expanding farm operation. Now fully restored to its 19th century heyday, the house contains a business office for 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 heirloom garden and apple orchard, located just outside the farmhouse.
Considered state-of-the-art when it was built, the farmhouse features cutting-edge creamery equipment, as well as conveniences including 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’s determination to apply progressive solutions to practical agricultural problems.
The 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 Room
The 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 Office
The 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 Aitkens’ correspondence and marketing materials.
The 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’s desire to make the farmhouse as modern and comfortable as possible.
In 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.
The Heirloom Garden
During special programs in the heirloom garden and apple orchard, learn about the herbs, heirloom vegetables, and apples grown here and how they were preserved to last the winter. Bring your picnic and grab a Vermont-made ice cream from the dairy bar!