Easements mean Stanton-Davis ‘will be a farm forever’

Easements mean Stanton-Davis ‘will be a farm forever’

The Westerly Sun

STONINGTON — With the completion of the Stonington Land Trust’s four-year, $2 million capital campaign, preservation and protection of the remaining160 acres of the historic 422-acre Stanton-Davis Farm has been assured.

Stanton Simm, the land trust’s executive director, said that the organization recently closed on four conservation easements on Osbrook Point Road and Greenhaven Road.

The easements for the 46-acre parcel on Osbrook Point, which has more than half a mile of saltwater frontage, were completed in September. In December, the trust was awarded a $290,000 grant from the National Resource Conservation Service to preserve and protect the 115.74-acre parcel of fields and woodland on Greenhaven Road.

The other 261 acres of the property, at the mouth of the Pawcatuck River, were preserved 20-plus years ago through the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program.

The recently acquired easements complete the preservation of the entire 422-acre Stanton-Davis Farm, which is the oldest continuously operating farm in New England.

Documents drawn up by the land trust and lawyers for the Davis Family spell out, in more than 75 pages, what can and cannot be done on the property.

“It’s very restrictive in terms of what can be built,” Simm said. “It must remain as a working farm and there are parts of the property where the ground cannot be disturbed. We are finishing what the state has started and now the farm will be a farm forever.”

The property will not be open to the public, with the exception of two guided walks hosted by the land trust each year. Simm said a history of the farm will be shared during each of the walks.

Whit Davis’ son Larry Davis, who farms the property today, said the preservation of the Stanton-Davis farm has been a long time in the making. Larry is a descendant of Thomas Stanton, who established the farm in 1654. “We’ve been working on this since the 1980s and today we’ve finally completed it,” he said. “It’ll never be developed or turned into a road or subdivision. I couldn’t have happened without the dedication of the land trust and the tireless work of Stanton Simm.”

The homestead on the property is the oldest house in Stonington. It was built in 1670 and is currently being restored through the Stanton-Davis Family Foundation.

“If Thomas Stanton were to come back, he’d recognize the house he built, the fields, the waterfront,” Simm said. “There’s been very little change to the property in the 360 years or so.”

Having such a historically rich property is an asset to Stonington, he said.

“The property is a place where the history of Native Americans, European Americans and African-Americans comes together,” Simm said. “You have Venture Smith, the famous slave who worked on the farm and bought his freedom, and Thomas Stanton, who was the sole Native American interpreter for all the New England colonies. It would take a long time to cover all the history of this property.”

Simm said that Whit Davis, who died last spring, would have been happy with the preservation effort. “It’s because of our donors that we have been able to preserve this acreage, for all generations to come,” he said. “It’s truly an incredible property and a unique treasure for Stonington. Whit would be so pleased to see how its all been preserved and protected.”



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