Joslin round barn
Photograph courtesy of the Inn at the Round Barn Farm

  Joslin farmhouse and round barn
Photograph courtesy of the Mad River Valley Planning District

The fertile lands of the Mad River Valley have historically been home to one of Vermont's most important industries--farming. The Joslin Round Barn Farm and its rural setting, are reminiscent of that period in Vermont's history, and provide a fine example of a dairy farm and the agricultural innovation that contributed to its success. The collection of well-preserved farms buildings includes an 1860 farmhouse, a late 19th-century ice house, a 1910 polygonal barn, and a circa 1930 vegetable stand and field barn.

The oldest building, the farmhouse, was built by Cyrus Joslin, as a vernacular structure, with local interpretations of Greek Revival details. Cyrus purchased the farmland in 1831, and lived there, with his wife and ten children, until his death in 1866. A unique feature of the 84-acre farm is a polygonal barn with 12 sides, commonly referred to as a "round" barn. It is the only survivor of five "round" barns that once stood in Waitsfield, and according to a 1986 survey, one of 15 remaining in the State. The fad for round buildings was largely the result of 1850s literature that reported octagonal structures were an inexpensive, more efficient alternative to traditional forms. The Joslin round barn was built by Clem Joslin, Cyrus's grandson, in 1910 for his Guernsey cows. The middle level of the barn was home to the herd, who were easily lead out of the barn in a circle. Trap doors in that floor enabled farmhands to shovel manure directly into waiting trucks at the lower level, to haul the fertilizer into the fields. Designed by his cousin James Joslin, who had already designed one other local polygonal barn, the exact reasons for the round barn's unusual design are unknown. The period of round barn construction in Vermont during the first quarter of the 20th century was an interesting experiment in agricultural innovation.

The barn was actively used until 1969, after which it fell into disrepair. A major restoration project was undertaken from 1988-90, for which the owners received a federal historic preservation tax credit. The barn now houses the Green Mountain Cultural Center, sponsoring a variety of performances there, the Cross Country Ski Touring Center, and the Sunday Services of the St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church. The farmhouse is now a county inn.

The Joslin Round Barn Farm is located southeast of the Village of Waitsfield, at 1661 East Warren Rd./Bridge St., 2 miles south east of Waitsfield. The Green Mountain Cultural Center, at 802-496-7722, can provide information on performances and activities. To make reservations at The Inn at the Round Barn Farm call 802-496-2276.

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