NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 15, 2013

Memories of Bushee's Oldtown Hill Farm


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

A news feature on the demolition of buildings at Oldtown Hill Farm in Newbury showed a photo of Florence Evans Dibble Bushee with a friend and neighbor, author John Phillips Marquand of Kent’s Island. Others remembered from the 1940s included Rosamond Dean Snow, president of Women’s Educational and Industrial Union in Boston who lived near Leigh’s Bridge; Clifton Lunt, director of Newburyport Choral Society, who lived in the Seddon Tavern; Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first commissioner of baseball, who had a summer home on Little Oldtown Hill; and Dr. Storer Plumer Humphreys, brain surgeon, who lived with his sister, Laura, organist at the First Parish Church, at the family home facing the Lower Green. It was one of several houses with barns owned by the Humphreys in Newbury Oldtown.

Members of the Kitchell family, who also lived near Leigh’s Bridge on Hay Street, were active in the Ould Newbury Studio Players that produced local theater at the Perry Barn on High Road, owned by Florence Bushee.

With the advent of hostilities in Europe leading up to World War II, the theater closed in 1941. The barn still stands.

As one of two dozen youngsters who had worked at Oldtown Hill Farm after World War II, I remember most of the buildings: the main house with an elegant sun porch, a summer house that was originally on Oldtown Hill, the farmhouse with a milk processing room, the main cow barn, a workhorse stable, a blacksmith shop, a heated garage, a corn crib, the beautiful horse barn, a long, one-story stable, a sled shed and a chicken coop. The last horse to occupy the elegant stable was Hiram, who was called into service to cultivate the vegetable garden a few times annually through the 1950s.

Florence Bushee is certainly remembered for her notable conservation efforts and contributions of lands and money. It is ironic that she took a group to Washington during World War II to oppose the creation of the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. She like many others including my late father, Joseph Rolfe Sr., who testified in Washington, was upset with the methods being used by the government to take thousands of acres of marshland. In the end, everything worked out. My family was able to harvest salt hay the entire length of the refuge for many years.

Henry Rolfe

Rowley