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Most of the early houses built in America were suited to farm life, as it was not until cities became manufacturing centers that colonists could survive without farming as their major occupation. Among the earliest farmhouses in America were those built in Plymouth Colony. Generally they consisted of one large rectangular room on the ground floor, called a hall or great room and having a fireplace built into one of the walls, and a loft overhead. Sometimes a lean-to was attached alongside the house to store objects such as spinning wheels, firewood, barrels, and tubs. The furnishings in the great room were sparse and crudely built. Tabletops and chest boards were split or roughly sawed and often smoothed only on one side. Benches took the place of chairs, and the table usually had a trestle base so it could be dismantled when extra space was required. One or two beds and a six-board chest were located in one corner of the room. The fireplace was used for heat and light, and a bench often placed nearby for children and elders, in the area called the inglenook.The original houses in Plymouth Colony were erected within a tall fence for fortification. However, by 1630 Plymouth Colony had 250 inhabitants, most living outside the enclosure. By 1640, settlements had been built some distance from the original site. Villages began to emerge throughout Massachusetts and farmhouses were less crudely built. Windows brought light into homes and the furnishings and décor were more sophisticated.

As more diversified groups of immigrants settled the country, a greater variety of farmhouses appeared, from Swedish long-style houses in the Delaware Valley to saltbox houses in Connecticut, Dutch-Flemish stone farmhouses in New York, and clapboard farmhouses in Pennsylvania. From Georgian characteristics to Greek revival elements, farmhouses of varied architectural styles and building functions populated the landscape of the new frontier.

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The history of the American farmhouseWhere immigrants settled in AmericaHow to build an American farmhouselife in Plymouth Colony

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The history of the American farmhouse

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