Local History

Chase Farm

by Ari Grebstein

Chase Farm, officially known as Chase Farm Park, is one of Lincoln’s finest historical treasures. It consists of seventy acres comprised of fields, picnic sites, trails, gardens, and sled riding trails. On the property sits a 2 1/2 story early Victorian house. This house represents just one aspect of Chase Farm’s rich history. The preservation of fields and stone walls enhance the rural and open character of the Great Road district.

Chase Farm was originally purchased by Thomas Arnold in 1661. Throughout the years, Chase farm passed through many hands. It became part of the Chase family in 1867 when Benjamin Ellery Chase and his wife, Alzada, bought 118 acres for $10,000 from the then current owners, the Whipple family. Charles Thornton Chase then purchased the land from his parents, Benjamin and Alzada, for a minimal fee of $100. Charles then married Alice Crawshaw, and the couple later sold the Chase property to their son, Benjamin Ellery Chase. Benjamin then married Wilhelmina Gladys in 1921, who became the sole owner of the land in April of 1974 after Benjamin’s death. Ultimately, on May 10th in 1979, the town of Lincoln bought Chase Farm as an open-space area for $94,500 from Wilhemina Gladys Chase. Wilhemina continued to live in the Chase house until her death on May 13th, 1987.

In addition to the to the genealogical history of the Chase Farm, other activities associated with the farm are also intriguing. In 1895, when the first pasteurizing equipment became available, the Chase farm began operations in the dairy industry, which continued until 1965. The Chases were known for being very conservative in the dairy business. They had local routes limited to Lime Rock, Lonsdale, Saylesville, Fairlawn, and occasionally Central Falls and Pawtucket. The cows kept on the Chase farm were of the Holstein variety, known for a higher production of milk than other cows but not as rich in butterfat. But it may not have only been the type of cows that were responsible for the high quality milk. Music was played while the workers milked the cows. Although it was said that the music was intended for the benefit of the workers, some people thought the music was responsible for increasing the quality of the milk.

The rich history of Chase Farm would not be complete without describing the physical evolution of the area. A fire, estimated to have occurred in 1925 or 1926, destroyed a barn located behind the Chase’s house. The fire was caused by lightning which actually went through a neighboring house. Not only was the barn destroyed, but the horses were killed. In response to the fire, Benjamin Chase bought a neighboring farm, known as the Butterfly Farm. The Chase Farm then became known as the Chase and Butterfly Farm, although it was still referred to as the Chase Farm. Visiting the Chase Farm is a worthwhile trip, and understanding the history will add to your fun and enjoyment that much more.

Bibliography:

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission. Statewide Historical Preservation Report P-L-1. Lincoln, 1982.
Klyberg, Albert T., and Peter L. Moreau. Hannaway Blacksmith Shop and Chase Farm: A Report and Recommendations. Lincoln, 1990.
Town of Lincoln. http://www.lincolnri.org/parksandrecreation.shtml.
http://www.hearthsidehouse.org/chaseFarmHouse/