The “Big Barn” at the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte.

The Clemmons Family Farm was recently selected as one of 17 recipients, from a pool of 45 applicants, for the 2018 Barn Preservation Grant to support the preservation of the farm’s “Big Barn.” The Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation awarded the $15,000 matching grant that is administered through the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The grants support the “rehabilitation of historic agricultural buildings that are a symbol of Vermont’s rural landscape.”

The Clemmons Family Farm is one of the largest – and one of the only – African American-owned historic farms in Vermont. The 148-acre farm has been owned by 94-year-old Dr. Jackson and Mrs. Lydia Clemmons since they moved here from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1962.

Bearing an iconic red façade, the historic Big Barn is a massive two-story structure built into a hill that was used on the lower level for dairy cows, sheep, horses, pigs and poultry, and for hay on the upper level, from the time of its construction in the early 1800s and over the years up to the mid-1990s.

“The Big Barn was one of our favorite places to work and play when we were children growing up on the farm in the 1960s and has always been loved by our community,” said Lydia Clemmons, daughter and executive director of the Clemmons Family Farm. “It’s a joy for us to receive this important grant, which will be used to preserve a beautiful 13-foot high historic wooden water cistern. The cistern is one of the Big Barn’s many very special features.”

The 2018 Barn Preservation grant is matched against some of the funds the Clemmons Family Farm recently received from ArtPlace America. A Sense of Place project, funded by ArtPlace America, supports the farm’s transition into an African-American Heritage and Multicultural Center in partnership with Building Heritage, LLC, Burlington City Arts Foundation, Inc., Champlain College, and INSPIRIT, A Dance Company. Under the Sense of Place project, some of the Big Barn’s interior spaces will be redesigned as venues for African American and African diaspora visual and performing arts programs for the local community, while other spaces will continue to be used for agricultural purposes.