Music Vale Seminary Barn (1849)

January 29th, 2014 Posted in Outbuildings, Salem, Vernacular

Music Vale Seminary Barn

In the nineteenth century, Salem was home to what is considered to be the first music conservatory (the first degree-granting school of music, or at least music teaching certificate-granting school) in the United States. Founded around 1835 by Orramel Whittlesey, son of the local Methodist minister Rev. John Whittlesey, the school was first called Mr. Whittlesey’s School, later the Salem Normal Academy of Music, and eventually the Music Vale Seminary. Young women from all over the country came to attend the school. After its original rambling classroom building burned down in 1868, it was replaced by an elaborate Italianate structure. The school closed soon after Whittlesey’s death in 1876 and the main building was destroyed by fire in 1897. The school’s large barn, built c. 1849, does survive. It is typical of an “English barn,” a type also called a side-entry or eave entry barn, a “thirty by forty” (based on its dimensions), a “Yankee barn” or a “Connecticut Barn.” The school‘s farm played an important role for the institution, supplying animals and crops. The Bodman family later owned the Music Vale property and donated much of it to the Salem Land Trust. The barn is now part of what is known as Music Vale Farm.

barn

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