National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program:
Back To School: Model Farm

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

photo
Model Farm
Photographs courtesy of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

Model Farm
Guilford County, North Carolina

While not the typical “school” that comes to mind at this time of year, the Model Farm in High Point, Guilford County, North Carolina was an important educational facility in the post-Civil War south.  The Model Farm was established in 1867 by the Baltimore Association of Friends to Advise and Assist Friends in Southern States, in order to improve farming techniques and crop yields for those Quakers pursuing agriculture in Guilford County.  Because Quakers not only opposed slavery, but were also conscientious objectors to military service in the Civil War, they were often persecuted by their southern neighbors.  The Baltimore Friends felt it was their religious duty to aid Friends in the south, like those in Guilford County, so that they could remain on their farms.  The idea of the Model Farm was to provide training in modern farm methods, machinery, and animal husbandry, as well as serve as a centralized location for selling seeds, farming implements, fertilizer, and livestock. 

photo Model Farm
Photographs courtesy of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

Originally situated on 200 acres of agricultural land, the Model Farm consisted of a house, barn, storage sheds, and other outbuildings for housing livestock.  In 1871, reportedly over 1,000 people from all over the state had visited the Model Farm to see the modern farming techniques employed there, and learn how to apply what they learned to their own farms.  One focus of the farm’s teaching was improving soil quality by cultivating certain plants, like clover, that could be plowed under to reinvigorate the soil.  The 1867 house, influenced by Greek Revival architecture, showed the increasing specialization of room use, from the more clearly defined distinction between public and private spaces on the first floor, to the increased number of bedrooms on the upper floors to accommodate a move towards providing a separate bedroom for each child, to the kitchen ell on the back of the house replacing a freestanding kitchen outbuilding.  The Model Farm house, a triple-A-roof style building common to Guilford County and a favorite of the Quaker community, remains one of the earliest and best preserved examples of its type in the Piedmont.  The Model Farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 20, 2011.