The Farmhouse on Eliot Street

Cynthia Whitty
Issue Date: 
January, 2020
Article Body: 

The town of Ashland in recent years has acquired several historic properties: the Valentine Estate house and the 250-year-old barn on West Union Street (Rt. 135) and three properties comprising “the Warren District” on Chestnut and Eliot streets.
In 2016 the Green Company, developers of The Lanterns at Warren Woods donated the Eliot Street property, the farmhouse with approximately 14 acres of land, to the town. The Eliot Street farmhouse is now under the care and custody of the town’s Conservation Commission with a deed restriction that limits its uses to “conservation, aesthetic, and educational” purposes.
In the early 1900s, Henry E. Warren, inventor of time-keeping synchronous motors, consolidated three farms to form what is now referred to as the Warren District. (Read about Henry Warren:
The front section of the house was built in the early 1800s; the rear section, in the early 1900s. Many of the workers for the Warrens lived there. In the late 1960s, the farmhouse was gifted to 4-H.
“The house was supposed to be razed and the proposed [Lanterns] development was to extend to Eliot Street,” Carl Hakansson, a member of the Conservation Commission and chair of the Land Stewardship Committee, said. “In an attempt to preserve the character of the Chestnut/Eliot intersection as well as protect Warren Woods, negotiations allowed for transfer of the property in exchange for a zoning change that enabled the Lanterns at Warren Woods to be clustered onto a smaller footprint. The zoning change was passed at Town Meeting.”
“The Green Company also made a substantial cash donation allowing for renovations to the house as well as brush clearing, which improved the view along Eliot and Chestnut streets. The care of the property was then transferred to the Land Stewardship Committee, a sub-committee of the Conservation Commission.”
Since that time a new roof, porch, and bulkhead were added; the house and garage have been repainted; and a new furnace and water heater have been installed. Donations of furniture have decorated the house, which now includes a small Warren Woods natural history museum, artifacts and books from the Warren District properties, a Conservation Commission office, and meeting space. There are plans for a small library. The Land Stewardship Committee was also able to locate and restore the original Warren farm tractor.
The farmhouse has recently been used as a classroom for naturalist teaching (Wildlife Biology, Ecology, Ornithology, Invertebrate Zoology, Vascular Plant Taxonomy, Resource Management, and Municipal Land Use) in cooperation with Framingham State University, meetings of various conservation groups, and a staging area for tours of the Warren Woods area.
In an attempt to maintain an agricultural presence in the area, the field adjacent to the farmhouse has been leased to Upswing Farm.
“The addition of 22 Eliot St. has added to and preserved Ashland’s interest in Warren Woods and the entire Warren District,” Hakansson said. “Due to our partnership with the Green Company and to their generosity, it has not cost the residents of Ashland a penny.” Photos/Cliff Wilson