About the Church Farm Collection
The Church Farm, situated on over 250 acres of land on Route 89 in Ashford, Connecticut, was first purchased by the Church family in the 1840s. The land was farmed by the Churches until the mid to late 1870s when they moved to Hartford, Connecticut, beginning a long career of operating clothier companies in Hartford, Putnam, Danielson, and Willimantic. A farm ledger from 1907-1922 shows that although the clothing businesses kept the farm running, the farm did remain operational and productive during this time, selling livestock and animal products including butter and wool. Though not their primary residence, the Church Farm Homestead continued to be a beloved summer vacation home for the family until the 1960s.
In 2008, the Church Farm and 110 acres were gifted to Eastern Connecticut State University, where it became the Church Farm Center for the Arts and Sciences – a convergence of interdisciplinary educational opportunities for ECSU students, from field studies to landscape art classes.
Items of most interest have been carefully selected from the primary collection and digitized. This online collection includes the family photo album which held family photos of the Church Farm, Money Island (Thimble Islands, Branford, Connecticut), and the Church home in Hartford, Connecticut. The online collection also includes selected clips from a 2009 interview with Joe and Dorothy Church Zaring, selected land records, and a document titled, "Recollections of Dorothy Church Zaring" in which Dorothy writes of her summers at the farm between 1910 and 1943.
The entire collection, which can be found in the ECSU Archives, contains materials and documents taken from the home relating to the farm and clothier businesses, as well as extensive family photographs. Though largely undated, the photographs range from family portraits and photographs of the farm house and business fronts, to snapshots from vacations and time spent at the farm during the early 1900s. Business and personal accounting ledgers run from 1842 to 1925; the personal ledgers dating from 1915-1925 illustrate the finances and expenditures of the Church family prior to the Depression. Also contained in the collection is the entire April 2009 interview with Dorothy and Joe Zaring conducted by Dr. Barbara Tucker, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Connecticut Studies at ECSU.