Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn

by Steve McRae (Landscape Consultant & Designer, Entrepreneur)

Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn

I'd work on this one!

Over the last 20 some odd years I’ve worked on and partially restored  4 Big House, Little House, Back House, Barns. Two of which I owned. One built in 1872 and the other built c.1804. One major renovation and landscaping project on a house in Hollis, NH spanned 5 years. It was a classic 1760 “Big House, Little House, Missing Back House and Barn. However, there was a 3000 square foot structure where the back houses had been and the foundation for the barn was partially intact, which was the cornerstone of the beautifully landscaped front of the house, while the old interior space of the barn was used as a garden and play area. Many houses in New England are like this, but there are still many that retain the original structures.

I’ve inspected several for customers and I can truly say they are probably my favorite New England structure. The song by the Maine folk singing group Schooner Fare with the same title “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn” is one of my all time favorites along with their other hit “Saltwater Farm”. I’ve worked on the landscapes of a few of this type of home over the years too. It’s hard not to when you work in the restoration and landscaping business in New England. They have such an aura for me and I am drawn to them even as I browse the real estate ads looking for my next dream home.

I’m a bit overwhelmed at this point in my life of actually owning another one that is in need of some TLC, but you never know. I presently own a large restored Victorian that was built in 1887 as a “summer cottage” for the Maplewood Hotel & Resort in the White Mountains of NH. I bought it restored and yes it has a Big House…umm…tiny house and garage across the driveway… yet maybe another title for a song by the boys of Schooner Fare?

Below is a link to a favorite book of mine. I know you’ll enjoy it if you love the old farms of New England as much as I do. Please check it out.

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