Boards & Commissions
The Town of Suffield in 2001 acquired 127 acres of land along the Connecticut River known as Hilltop Farm from Pinnacle Developers. The land is remarkable because it has beautiful open vistas, 2,500 feet of river frontage, and nesting American Bald Eagles. It is also well known for its visually stunning 18,700 square foot dairy barn that has been described as a "Monster Barn" or alternatively as "Connecticut's Agricultural Cathedral". The land was originally developed by George Hendee, founder of the Indian Motorcycle Company, as a gentleman's farm and later operated for many years by Charlie and Betty Stroh.
A portion of the property was deeded to the Town as a gift from Pinnacle. For a 76-acre portion of the property the Town applied for and was awarded a $600,000 grant for open space from the State of Connecticut. This grant represented half of the purchase price of $1.2 million. The Town utilized $600,000 gained from its prison agreement with the Connecticut Department of Corrections to pay the balance. The Town marketed 10 of the 127 acres (known as Parcels A& B) in order to replenish the Town's land preservation account allowing the Town to preserve other land throughout the community.
Parcel A consists of 2.12 acres, a single family home and an antique 2-family Greek Revival style home. There is a large, sturdy, 7-stall gambrel barn with loft and an unusual pagoda-roofed barn. Parcel A was sold in August 2003 for $285,000.
Parcel B consists of 7.9 acres with outstanding views of West Suffield Mountain and the Connecticut River Valley. It is improved with a very distinctive large white dairy barn of approximately 18,700 square feet. There are three homes each built circa 1913. In 2004, Parcel B was sold to Educational Properties, LLC which also owned the adjoining Suffield Conference Center, for $325,000. Educational Properties provided The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop, Inc. (FOFAH) a long-term lease (99 years with an option to renew) for the historic dairy barn and some associated structures. In 2013, FOFAH acquired the property from Educational Properties.
In 2004, FOFAH recieved a $500,000 Open Space Grant from the State of Connecticut to help in the restoration efforts for the historic dairy barn. The specific funding source required the Town to be the intial recipient of the grant funds which the Town would then pass on to FOFAH.
FOFAH spearheaded an effort to nominate Hilltop Farm and neighboring properties as an historic district for the National Register of Historic Places. The Hilltop Farm District was listed on the National Register on January 12, 2005.
The 76 acres of open space on the east-side of Route 159 will be utilized for passive recreation and agricultural uses. On June 17, 2005, the Town entered into a four-year lease with four four-year renewal options with FOFAH to maintain, improve and utilize the land in keeping with a Shared Vision Statement agreed to by the parties.
Shared Vision Statement
The Town of Suffield and The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop, Inc., share a vision to continue the use of the Open Space known as Hilltop East as an agricultural venue, to provide public access to the Connecticut River including walking trails, to protect wildlife habitat and maintain recommended buffers for the eagles as established by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and to work together in the furtherance of educational, agricultural, historical and community-building activities to benefit the current public and future generations.
More information on The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop and thier efforts can be found at fofah.com.