Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-- Robert Frost
Farm History & Legends
Our history begins with Issac Bowles, who homesteaded the farm in about 1817 and created and developed the farm for the next 50 years. The original house and barn were located toward the top of the hill, where the main house still stands. The foundation for the barn can be seen today as the perimeter of the rose garden directly in front of the horse paddock, the present day venue site. Issac's son, Loren Bowles, carried on the farm until his death in the 1890s. From then until its purchase in 1912 by Joe Fobes Senior, the farm was pretty much abandoned. Joe Sr. resurrected the land and created the first sugarhouse in 1915, tapping the large maple grove one passes through on the way to the site. The hurricane of 1938 brought much devastation to the farm, including the original sugarhouse and guest cottage. The present sugarhouse was erected before the 1939 sugaring season, as well as the blue cottage, which sits in part of the maple grove, downhill from the main house.
We know Robert Frost stayed in the cottage often and was good friends with Joe Sr. Local legend also credits the Toad Hill Farm as the inspiration for "The Road Less Traveled". Certainly, Frost was familiar with the series of forks in the road throughout the farm and may easily have taken this physical reference as a spiritual analogy.
Roughly around this same time, the present day farmhouse was built, along with the main barn, allowing the house on the hill to become a 'summer' house. The original barn was abandoned in favor of the larger barn, which was recently highlighted in the book Preserving Old Barns by John Foster and Franklin Gilman (2001) as a fine example of a 'bank' barn.
Joe Fobes' son, also named Joe, took over the farm from his father, and created a covenant with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the first such covenant in the state. This agreement declared that the farm was never to be subdivided and it would remain a 'working' farm. This was Joe Fobes' way of resisting development and the loss of farm land long after he was gone. In 1978, Fobes sold the property to Chester Martin, along with the covenant which remains in perpetuity,. Four years later, Richard and Letitia Burwell purchased the 'summer' house with 3 acres on the hill from Chester. The surrounding farm land remained in Martin's possession until1985, when the Burwells purchased the remaining 365 acres. Since then, the Burwells have acquired several adjacent pieces of land, increasing the acreage to almost 600 acres. It remains a working farm, with Mandy and Gene Young (their daughter and son-in-law) maintaining the covenant and reclaiming the work of those before them. The Youngs were married here in 2000 and have, since then, hosted several weddings of close friends or relatives. It is their desire to share this beautiful and unique spot with others wishing a special location for their momentous occasion.