THE TOAD HILL FARM
Over 200 years in the making...
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 directly in front of the horse paddock. 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.
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 Sr's son, also named Joe, took over the farm from his father and created the first covenant in the state with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. 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 Martin. The surrounding farm land remained in Martin's possession until 1985, when the Burwells purchased the remaining 368 acres. From then until about 2011, the Burwells acquired several adjacent pieces of land, increasing the acreage to almost 600 acres.
Toad Hill 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 weddings. In 2016, Mandy and Gene bought the main house, transitioning the venue to the fully. It is their desire to share this beautiful and unique spot with others wishing a special location for their momentous occasion.
The Road Not Taken
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;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
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.