Phelps Farm

In 1816, Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps built a farmhouse, now called Phelps Farm, across the street from the home he grew up in, now the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum. Charles built the farmhouse to be a home for his wife Sarah, and their five children. Unfortunately, Sarah contracted Typhus fever during the move and would never live in her new home. In the wake of this devastating loss, Charles raised his and Sarah’s children in their new Hadley home, remarrying twice and parenting four more children. Phelps Farm still stands across the street from the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum and remains an important part of the family history.

Continue reading for more information about Phelps Farm and Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps.

The Porter-Phelps Huntington Museum presents The Hues of Hadley: Pioneering Places for Preservation and Growth. This exhibit showcases University of Massachusetts graduate student Elisha Bettencourt's thesis on Phelps Farm. Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps, grandson of Moses Porter, built Phelps Farm in 1816 just across the street from the home he grew up in, now the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum. As envisioned by Bettencourt, Phelps Farm would showcase Hadley’s history through both people and the environment.

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The Phelps Farmhouse built in 1816, is a beautiful example of the Federal Style, and holds several distinctive and elegant details specified by its original owner Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps. Charles built the house for his wife Sarah shortly before her passing, and moved back to Hadley from Boston to live on the farm with their surviving children. Although always utilized as a private residence, the farmhouse and property now have the opportunity to combine into a new type of historic and environmental resource.

Elisha Bettencourt is a dual major in Architecture and Historic Preservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and has been continually inspired by the Connecticut River Valley and its architecture. Her research explores cross-disciplinary approaches to design, preservation, green practices, and education with an eye towards harboring more environmental mindfulness and self-reflection within historic areas. This exhibit strives to discuss sustainable practices both old and new, and works on developing a multipurpose reuse project for a variety of audiences. This project also hinges on the idea that historic resources are endangered species themselves, and those built in natural settings have a unique role to invite new conversations about sustainable mindsets and preserving the future.


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Charles (Moses) Porter phelps (1772-1857)


Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps was born August 8, 1772 to Charles Phelps and Elizabeth Porter, starting the third generation to have lived at Forty Acres. He spent his childhood at the family homestead in Hadley, leaving in the Spring of 1780, when only seven years old, to live and attend school in Northampton. Charles and Elizabeth were intent on Porter (nicknamed at the time) succeeding to Harvard. In 1784, Porter continued his education in Hatfield where he lived and studied at Reverend Joseph Lyman’s, a grammar school emphasizing the study of Latin and Greek. A week after his fifteenth birthday, Porter set off for Cambridge to enroll at Harvard College. There he diligently kept an account book following his father’s admonitions, also recording the latest urban fashion and pastimes taking place in Boston. He corresponded with his parents and siblings thorough letters, influencing his sisters Betsey and Thankful with the extravagance of fashion and material items in Cambridge. The archives hold a letter in which Betsey references her new silk stockings that Porter bought for her – the same stockings which Jane Austin had written her sister about, lamenting her inability to afford such luxury just four years earlier (Carlisle 131). Porter also sent Betsey a mandola for her to practice music, this instrument still sits on the sofa in the Long Room of the museum today…

Click HERE to learn more about Charles (Moses) Porter Phelps.

Click HERE to view Charles’ autobiography.