Brooks Vale Farm
Adaptive enhancements for an historic landscape
Brooks Vale Farm is currently a 55 acre site located on the north side of South Brooksvale Road in Cheshire, Connecticut. The site contains a house, large L-shaped barn and some small outbuildings as well as a stream and small impoundment in the front yard that was created in 1838. The site holds historic significance in that it is the family homestead of Frederick Law Olmsted through his mother Charlotte Hull Olmsted. Charlotte Hull’s sister Linda Hull married David Brooks, the grandson of Enos Brooks who was deeded the property in 1733. Frederick Law Olmsted and his brother John visited the property as children and Frederick lived here as a young adult.
The Brooks-Hull property was originally over 300 acres encompassing a house, barns, farm fields and forests. The property is currently held in trust by descendants of Enos Brooks and Linda Hull. In addition to the 55-acre farm and homestead, there are 49 acres of the original acreage placed in conservation easement. The Homestead (house) barns and surrounding 55 acres are jointly owned by Margaret Jean McKee and the Thayer-McKee Family Trust.
The current owners desired a master plan that maintained the historic character and significance of the property while providing necessary updates to address, storm water flooding, declining plantings and deteriorating walkways as well as accommodating some 21st century spatial additions. Although this master plan work did not encompass a detailed Cultural Landscape Report, reviews were conducted of family archival documents and photographs for the property and the Olmsted Research Guide Online (ORGO), as well as visits and document reviews at the National Park Service Olmsted Historic Site to obtain an understanding of Olmsted’s designs for smaller-scale residential properties.