Farm foreman’s house (1869—1930)
Farm foreman’s house, circa 1913, in its second location. Building at rear is an Implement Barn, refitted from the “new” horse barn of 1872 and moved to this location circa 1907. Photo Credit: Beal, p. 56.
Day-to-day operation of the College farm and gardens was handled by a foreman and several laborers who lived on the grounds in a succession of small cottages, including one that was originally the Smith cabin and pre-dated the founding of the Agricultural College. As the land was cleared to expand the useful farmland and the staff grew, the “cottage formerly occupied as a farm house was entirely too small to afford the requisite accommodations.”[Beal, p. 268]
Therefore in 1869 the College built a new “Farm House” to be occupied by the farm foreman and laborers, a two-story brick residence measuring 33 by 42 feet. It was located well to the east of the “campus” buildings (College Hall, Williams Hall, and Saints’ Rest), near a growing complex of farm buildings at the western edge of a large range of experimental gardens and orchards that extended east to the present Bogue Street.
At the time it was one of the easternmost buildings on campus, and when built it was probably considered to be deep within the farm. But as the academic area grew and the farm buildings gradually crept further east and south, it began to be surrounded by laboratories. Horticulture, Agriculture, and Botany were added in the 1888–1892 era, creating a gently delineated laboratory row. For a few years, the farm foreman’s house was flanked by Botany and Agriculture.[Lautner, pp. 74, 80]
By 1900, the new Dairy replaced the foreman’s house in the lab row. The house was moved twenty rods to the southeast where a smaller building had stood: the herdsman’s house, which was moved north and a little east.* By the time of Beal’s writing in 1913, the foreman’s house had “for some years past” been occupied only by the foreman and his family, the laborers having moved to other cottages or into off-campus housing.[Beal, p. 268. Lautner, p. 102]
This new site for the farm foreman’s house was the southwest corner of Farm Lane and what is now East Circle Drive, immediately to the east of the current site of the Kedzie Chemical Laboratory, which was built in 1927. The house remained until the Board voted in 1930 to have it torn down. At that time the College rented a house for the foreman, along with 18½ acres of land, along Harrison Road where the Breslin Center now stands. This arrangement lasted until 1936; the land was later purchased by the College.[Minutes, 14 Jul 1930, p. 885. Dressel, pp. 365–366]