If you come down the driveway on a warm sunny day, you’ll probably find white cotton sheets flying on the line, grandchildren chasing frogs around the pond, maybe a game of hide and seek, and certainly a few chefs in the kitchen preparing a family-style dinner on the porch, in the barn or down by the river. This is summer at Roads End Farm.
Tom and Claudia McIlvain bought Roads End Farm in 1991. At that time, the house was a small brown cape in dense woods. At some point two rough outbuildings had been dragged and attached New England-style to the cape. Miles of stone walls hinted at a working farm of old. Roads End was named and noted on local maps because of a natural gravel pit found at ‘the end of the road’ at the back of the property.
When considering the property, Tom found a black and white photograph tacked inside a cupboard showing a large solitary granite rock centered in an open field framed by mountains. He had a hunch that the photo was of the property from a time when most of New Hampshire had been cleared for farmland. If so, then the rock would still be out there as well as the promise of beautiful mountain views. He found the rock after a bit of searching. Placing a hand on that boulder buried deep in the woods, something told him Roads End had the potential to be a very special place.
The McIlvains put the property into protected Tree Farm status through the NH Tree Farm System. In 2003, they had the early 1800’s cape taken down piece by piece and rebuilt by Ben Bullard using the same beams and layout. Two additions to the cape were designed to replicate different periods of development and architectural styles.
However, the first building project was the construction of a 40’ x 72’ timber frame barn in 1995. Old photographs show a barn had once stood where the barn is now sited. Timber framers Ben Bullard and Roger Korpi and their crew used local white pine, Appalachian white oak and no nails for the framing. A full basement supports five floor levels. The unique shingle pattern found on the old cape was duplicated on the barn and then again on the renovated cape.
What was a little brown cape in the woods is now a spreading farm in fields dominated by a handsome shingle clad barn with views of White Face, Chocorua and the Ossipees. There is something inexplicably special about the barn with its stately proportions. However, the mountains, the granite stone walls and the restored snow roller found on the property near the ruins of the old barn remind us that Roads End is part of a much larger history of the town of Sandwich and the live-free-or-die state of New Hampshire. Our wish is to preserve and share this sacred space with others.