Billings Farm & Museum
Established in 1871, Billings Farm is known for its excellent Jersey breeding, sustainable agricultural practices, and dynamic educational programming. Operating as part of a non-profit institution since 1983, the farm is open to the public, giving visitors an exceptional opportunity to experience Vermont’s farming — past and present.
Today, Billings Farm is a thriving dairy farm, breeding an award-winning herd of Jersey dairy cows, as well as Southdown sheep, oxen, and draft horses. Surrounded by more than 200 acres of cropland and the Mount Tom forest, Billings Farm & Museum provides visitors with a unique window into rural Vermont farm life.
Visitors can also explore our 1890 Farm House, originally built as a modern, multi-purpose addition to Frederick Billings’s expanding farm operation, now meticulously restored to its 19th century heyday. Extensive displays are exhibited in 19th century barns and use artifacts, oral histories, and photographs to depict the seasonal round of activities that shaped the lives and culture of rural Vermonters.
Billings Farm History
Owned and operated by The Woodstock Foundation, Inc., a non-profit educational institution founded by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller in 1968, the Billings Farm & Museum was established in 1983 to preserve the historic Billings Farm as well as the character and heritage of rural Vermont.
Billings Farm was established in 1871 by Frederick Billings, a native Vermonter known for his work as a lawyer, railroad builder, and pioneer in scientific farm management and reforestation. Billings set out to make his 270-acre farm a model dairy operation for farmers in the region, founded on the principles of efficiency, sustainability, and responsible land use.
In 1884 Frederick Billings hired George Aitken, an innovative and successful professional farm manager to oversee his Woodstock operation. Aitken imported cows from the Isle of Jersey, hundreds of Southdown sheep, Berkshire hogs, and other livestock. By 1890, the year that Frederick Billings died, the Billings Farm had grown to nearly 1,000 acres and was widely acknowledged for the superior genetics of its premier Jersey herd as well as an extensive butter-making operation that produced 5,000 pounds of high-quality butter annually. Three years later, at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, cows from the Billings herd took top honors in the dairy division, with Lily Garfield designated “Champion Heifer of the World.”
The herd’s performance in Chicago was the victorious culmination of Billings Farm’s early years. Following George Aitken’s sudden death in 1910, the farm experienced several periods of change, including a successful commercial dairy operation beginning in the 1948. In the mid-1970s, the farm resumed breeding championship-caliber Jersey cows. A string of regional show winnings throughout the 1970s and ’80s culminated when Billings Top Rosanne won top honors in both American and Canadian competitions, designating her the finest Jersey in North America.