The Not-a-Chicken-House Pop Quiz Answer

Most everyone thinks this building is a chicken house. That was my first guess, as it was many of yours.


The quiz: identify this structure.

It’s not. Nor is it a sugar house. But, it does have to do with agriculture. This building is located on the former Vermont State Tree Farm in Essex, VT (Chittenden County). In fact, this building is a seed extractory building, part of the tree farm. What does that mean? (I asked the Vermont State Architectural Historian the same question! Below is his answer:)

Pine cones would be placed on mesh grates in front of the banks of windows, where the heat of the sun would dry them out and cause them to open up (“cone flaring”). The pinecone seeds would then be removed, and voila! New seeds for planting the next crop of Vermont’s seedlings, which were shipped all over the state for re-forestation projects. By the late 1800s, 80% of Vermont’s forests had been cleared. To counteract this deforestation, the Vermont State Tree Farm was established in 1922 to grow new trees. By 1924, this tree farm was transplanting 2 million seedlings a year. Prior to this, seedlings were imported from Germany.

Today the tree farm is home to recreational fields serving the town of Essex, Vermont.


6 thoughts on “The Not-a-Chicken-House Pop Quiz Answer

  1. jane says:

    fabulous! Not something I knew about at all –
    – but now when I see the ‘new’ forests, planted in a grid by the Conservation Corp men during the Depression – very recognizable – I will know where the seedlings came from. Thanks!
    A good post for the Christmas season!

  2. colin says:

    As someone that is new to gardening, farming this is news to me. Those of us who grew up in the big city have no clue to the process of how are food is raised, how we captures seeds for spring planting and that’s a shame.

  3. Paula Sagerman says:

    Kaitlin, you really know how to stump us! Thanks for the history lesson. The MPDF for ag resources needs to be updated! 🙂

  4. Thinker Belle says:

    I didn’t think it was a chicken coop because I’ve seen many. I thought it may have been an old barracks or something similar.

    Pines and/were cultivated the same way, making way for clear cutting operations widely known to be legal in the US; ironically, it is illegal overseas. (Note the raid on Gibson guitar and how the feds view clear cutting elsewhere).

    What’s inside? Oak flooring of popular that has turned to stone over the years? Is that the original lap and gap? What was the original roof? Metal? Shake?

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