The Wallace Farm off Perkins Road will someday be an apartment complex along Interstate 93 near Exit 5. It will be home to 240 apartments, half of them set aside as workforce housing (see related story page 1).
But the property has a long heritage in Londonderry. It was purchased by the current owner’s ancestors 109 years ago. “The Plummer family bought the farm from someone else in 1904 and it was about 30 or so acres,” Susan Wallace said as she sat at the family’s kitchen table over scones and coffee.
“Then it had about 30 cows and was a working family farm with a 36-by 50-foot barn with an attached milk house. Eventually it was handed down to the next generations and my husband eventually came into it,” she said of her husband, Alfred Wallace.
Though the barn is gone, the milk house still stands, and Alfred remembers working the farm.
“I used to get up about 4 every morning and then again in the afternoon and milk the cows, and we’d hay, and we had 16 stalls along one side of the barn and a few others along the other side. We still have some of the milk cans that we used in the early days before bulk trucks came in,” he said.
Three brothers – Alfred, Harold, who lives in Derry, and Henry, who lives “just up the road” – sat around the table in the kitchen of the home that has been in their family for generations. Henry and Harold nodded in affirmation of Alfred’s comments, remembering their childhood at the farm.
“It was simpler then. There were a lot of schools in Londonderry, smaller ones, and we worked the farm after school,” Alfred said. The farm has lots of vegetation along Perkins Road, and during a recent Heritage Commission meeting, builder Tom Monihan said that a couple of trees that are possibly over 100 years old will remain, with plans in place to keep that roadside vegetation for the rural atmosphere. He also said the farmhouse and a couple of older outbuildings will stay to maintain the farm atmosphere of the property.
“Tom has a strong sense of the heritage of the property,” Susan said. “We sold the last of the herd in the ’70s and eventually the barn had to come down. The stone foundation is still there,” Alfred said. Alfred said that in the early to mid 1950s, when the state was building I-93, it took a few acres by eminent domain for the highway.
“Here it is 50 or so years later and they came in and took a couple more acres for the (I-93) widening project, but there’s still about 25 acres give or take that we put on the market,” Alfred said. Asked why the family homestead was sold, Alfred said it’s time to move on, although the family hopes to remain in Londonderry.
“We were looking for something that will still allow Al to have a garden, something with acreage,” Susan said. “We also want our grandchildren to be able to go to school in Londonderry. I have a snowman festival in the barn every year and I have a lot of snowmen and I don’t think that is something that I would want to lose, so we’d have to have a place for that,” Susan said.
For now, the farm looks much as it did for the past century – a tractor sitting outside, tall grass, and children playing in the yard. But that’s all slated to change soon.