Keeping pigs was an important activity on most early 19th-century New England farms and pork was by far the most common meat in the Yankee diet. Pigs are relatively easy to care for and could be cheaply fed with farm and household waste, especially “dairy wash,” the whey, skim milk, and buttermilk left over from making butter and cheese.
In the 1830s, John Partridge Allen added a two-bay timber-framed piggery to his farm in the town of Sturbridge. At the time, this structure was the “state of the art” in porcine accommodation, incorporating features recommended in agricultural periodicals like Thomas G. Fessenden’s popular weekly, The New England Farmer, along with English advice books like Robert Henderson’s Treatise of the Breeding of Swine. A stone-lined well for fresh water was located just outside a door while a brick hearth was located inside to support a large cast-iron set kettle for cooking slop. The upper level held a granary with wooden bins for storing dry feed while an enclosed shelter for pigs was located below.
Few buildings like Allen’s piggery survive today. In 2014, Gary and Beckie Galonek donated the Allen Piggery to the Village in memory of longtime Sturbridge teacher Alice Kelly. Gary is a local businessman and member of the Village’s Council of Ambassadors. Village staff have worked on restoring and re-erecting the Piggery over the course of several years. The Allen Piggery officially opened to the public in June 2023.
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Pictured below: Some behind-the-scenes shots taken during the reconstruction process.