Essex Cogswell Haybarn Has Found a New Home


The Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum (EHSSM) is pleased to announce the historic Essex Cogswell Haybarn has found a new home in Rockport at Woodbury Hill Farm owned by Aaron Tuffley and Betsy Lordan.  The EHSSM is partnering with them to pass along the know-how and history of the structure and will help document their project.

In December 2019, just before the pandemic, EHSSM was alerted that a historic barn on John Wise Avenue in Essex was going to be torn down to make way for the town’s new safety building.  While saving the barn was a priority for the town’s planning board, it was determined that repurposing the structure was not an economically viable option.  Not wanting to see the historic 1700s Essex timber frame hay barn destroyed, EHSSM mobilized numerous passionate museum members and dedicated individuals in the wider community to help save it.

Once dismantled from John Wise Avenue, the Museum built a temporary shed to house the structure and examined the timbers’ structural integrity to determine whether it could be used as a replacement building for EHSSM’s aging Water Line Center.  The timbers were carefully analyzed, cataloged, and preserved so that the elements could be re-erected in a timely manner.

Due to the size and age of the structure, the constraints of the EHSSM waterfront campus, and the tight timeline to reassemble the barn, the museum ultimately determined it could not repurpose the hay barn on site.  Knowing the precarious condition of the barn frame, its historical value to the region, and having a contemporary agricultural use plan, local farmer and horse lover, Aaron Tuffley approached the museum in late 2022 with an offer to take stewardship of the 18th-century structure.  As time and weather exposure were pressing threats to the timbers, EHSSM and Mr. Tuffley quickly came to an agreement to help secure its bright, next chapter: for the timbers to be reassembled in Rockport and used as they were originally intended, for the storage of hay and horses.

The EHSSM is gratified that the historic Essex Cogswell Haybarn has found a new home at Woodbury Hill Farm and would like to thank the Museum community for their generous support throughout this important project.  EHSSM is a small well-conceived museum with many treasures that chart the journey of the early settlers and the town’s shipbuilding industry.  The Essex Historical Society was formed in 1937, meeting in members’ homes, sharing research with one another about the town’s early settlers.  Sparked by the bicentennial in 1976, the Essex Historical Society established the Essex Shipbuilding Museum and chose the town’s Central Schoolhouse to display artifacts.  This later became the permanent home for the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum.  Learn more at:

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