Stepping in time, the Minutemen Marching Band has little idea what lurks beyond the safety of their practice hall. Covered in eldrich vine and crusted ichor, this edifice sits and gazes upon the marching band with unseeing eyes. But what is it? Why is it there? Why does nobody seem to know what it was?
However, cryptic introductions aside, this building really is a rather garish building, and one of the few in such blatant disrepair on campus.
Especially seeing it’s directly within eye-shot of the Mullins Center, I’m surprised that the administration has done nothing with it yet. Unlike the university apartments that they tore down a couple of years ago (and the area is still a mess, just to point out), this building is standing proud and pallid against the clear autumn sky.
However in my searches I have discovered what this building is, or more accurately, what it had been. Currently, it merely serves as a sort of impromptu parking lot for people using the marching band’s hall, or going to the Mullins Center.
There is a small, yet cozy looking house to the right of this strange building, and luckily for me, has a marker placed upon its lawn informing me that this is the “Blaisdell House.” According to the UMass Library’s Wiki, the Blaisdell House was constructed in 1869 by an unknown architect, and served as the home for the university’s Farm Superintendent. More importantly, though, is a passage describing the surrounding area immediately around the house.
Blaisdell House is located to the east of the horse barn on a site that slopes gently from east to west. The site is framed by bituminous concrete access drives on the south and west sides. The southern side of the building has a concrete walk leading to the main entrance from the adjacent drive. Vegetation at the front (south) side of the building includes tall evergreen and deciduous shrubs, with lawn leading to a granite curb. Vegetation on the west side of the building consists of deciduous trees over lawn.
Right there- did you catch it? If not, then I’ll just point it out to you. “Blaisdell House is located to the east of the horse barn,” it says. Horse barn? It’s a start, and a very strong clue how to find out what the building really was.
Another round of searches brings up yet another page on the library’s wiki page: The Horse Barn, built in 1894.
According to the article, the Horse Barn was used from its creation up until around 1991, when the remaining horses were transferred to the Hadley Farm.
As of the article’s writing, it was boarded up as of at least 2008, but if it has been unused since 1991, it very very may have been boarded up since that point.
If it has been boarded up for so long and so egregiously misused, why has it languished in the southern arm of the campus for 20 years?
One piece of information I have yet to discover is what is planned for this old barn. Because of its age, it may be marked as a historical site, but given its current condition, I’d say it’s more appropriately just an interesting, if not slightly eerie, eyesore. To my best searching ability, there are no definitive plans to make this a historical site, or if it will be demolished, or if it will just sit as it does now for countless years to come.