This little piggy …
The newest historic building in old Sturbridge Village is built neither of straw, sticks nor bricks, but sturdy timber framing. The Allen Piggery represents the best in porcine accommodations and was owned by farmer John Partridge Allen, dating from about 1830 and perhaps housing breeds such as Berkshires who grew so fat so quickly they could not be driven to market, but needed a wagon.
Most New England families kept at least some pigs for their own use even if they weren’t farmers. Once villages outlawed them having free range with consequent damage to crops, the pigs began to be confined and fed, rather than rooting for food.
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.
A stone-lined well for fresh water was located just outside the door to the piggery while a brick hearth was located inside to support a large cast-iron set kettle for cooking slop. Period advice literature recommended cooked grains, potatoes, pumpkins, and various root vegetables such as carrots and turnips. The upper level held a granary with wooden bins for storing dry feed while an enclosed shelter for pigs was located below.
To properly preserve its history, carpenters from the Village carefully disassembled the piggery to save it from further deterioration and vandalism. Each beam and brace of the structure was labeled, shipped and then reconstructed on the property. The piggery incorporated 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.”
This landmark offers a unique glimpse into New England’s agrarian past. Visitors can explore the beautifully restored barn and learn how 19th-century farmers cared for their valuable farm animals.
The piggery was generously donated to Old Sturbridge Village by local businessman and OSV Council of Ambassadors member Gary Galonek and his wife Beckie in memory of longtime Sturbridge teacher Alice Kelly.