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Ruth and Skitch Henderson
Hunt Hill Farm
New Milford, Connecticut

A Quest for Permanence

Ruth and Skitch Henderson

When Ruth and Skitch Henderson decided to take a country ride with a friend to the Litchfield Hills in 1968, they did not know it would be a life-altering event. They came across a farm on a rural road in New Milford, thinking that the imposing white barn was rather ramshackle except for the two silos that looked intact. But this was no ordinary farm. It seemed to sense that Ruth and Skitch would be the ones to take it "out of old age," nurture it, and replace the somber mood with sounds of gaiety and laughter. Ruth and Skitch returned to the City but they couldn't erase the image of the barnyard from their minds. "I fell in love with the barnyard the first time I saw it," Ruth recalls, so they made arrangements to purchase the farm several days later, fully intending to rent it out as an investment property.

"We lived in a townhouse in New York City at the time, ran a cool saloon on 61st Street called Daly's Dandelion and the Bird & Bottle in Garrison, New York. Soon thereafter, we added more restaurants - Daly's Daffodil on 69th Street and the Wooden Horse in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. We also had a house in Sugarbush, Vermont, where we were among the first devoted skiers; but the farm became home. The farm chose us," Ruth recollects. "Each tree and stone talked to us and we listened, 'Take care, preserve, don't let this go'."

Ruth and Skitch spent most of their weekends at the farm painting and planting and soon it was transformed into an idyllic spot which entranced the Hendersons enough for them to decide to live there full-time. They bought a second farm from Bud Bostwick and made his barn their home. They renovated the barn and called it the 1836 Barn and continued to restore other buildings on the property including the barn that houses the store, gallery, and cooking school. Ruth and Skitch appropriately called their place of business "The Silo."

Now, 33 years later, The Silo store, gallery, and cooking school is in its 31st year, and the Hunt Hill Farm Trust is an infant with a grown-up vision. The mission of the Hunt Hill Trust is to preserve the farm's land, buildings and archives; promote public awareness of its unique history; provide educational opportunities for children and adults; and through the creation of a Living Museum, share the rich life and legacy of Skitch and Ruth Henderson. The Trust for Public Land has orchestrated a partnership with the Town of New Milford, the State of Connecticut, the American Farmland Trust, and Weantinoge Heritage, Inc. to preserve the farmland. In collaboration with Western Connecticut State University and the Smithsonian Institution, the Henderson Americana Center is taking its first steps in the Silo Gallery. Skitch Henderson's studio, a living museum, is ready to make its debut.

The National Register of Historic Places is considering a nomination of Hunt Hill Farm, which is the heart of two farms, the Hine-Buckingham Farm; later the Anderson-Bostwick Farm. Some of this land had been farmed as early as 1760. "With the help of many who care, life is good when it can be preserved," opines Skitch Henderson. "We owe it to our future."

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