About Brickyard Farm

Brickyard Farm, purchased as a potential homesite by Mark and Kathy Lauretano in 1988,  got its name because the land it sits on was, once upon a time in the 1800’s, a brickyard.  If you go to the Salisbury Town Hall and examine some of the antique town maps hanging on walls there,  you will see our property along Dugway Road marked The Brickyard.  When we cleared a building site in 1988 we located the house up high straddling a ravine that opened out down the steep hillside to land about 100 feet lower than the building site.  The ravine became our cellar.  During this initial phase of establishing residency we discovered that our property has a lot of clay underneath the topsoil.

After two years, I insisted we open up a small pasture and barnyard area down below with the intention of eventually putting up a small barn.  Both of us being handy with chain saws, at the time physically fit and filled with youthful optimism and enthusiasm, we decided that we should be able to clear the acre or so of forest needed for a pasture through our own efforts.   Heck, the pioneers did it and they did not have the luxury of chain saws!

After work every day and on weekends, Mark and I embarked upon the endeavor, cutting down every tree in the proposed pasturage and trimming the large branches off them to be piled and burned.  The trunks would be cut to manageable size and offered to interested townspeople for their winter wood supplies.  Or so we thought. After three weeks of back-breaking work the pasture looked like Hurricane Katerina had blown through, we were almost catatonic from exhaustion, and I had to agree with Edward M. Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction, that it was highly probable the first settlers here were actually Europe’s ADD/ADHD sufferers because no one could have settled this land without such high levels of all-consuming , uncontrollable energy to do the work.

One evening I answered a ring at the front door to find neighbor Nick DeAngelis on our porch.  He held a photo of his gigantic Ackerman machine in my face and asked “Why don’t you let me finish it?”  I replied “How fast can you do it and for how much money?”  His answer was “A day and a half and XXX dollars.”  The price was perfectly reasonable and the 36 hour time estimate phenomenal.  It was an offer we could not refuse.

The man was as good as his word.  With the Ackerman he stacked all the branches in 5-6 monstrous piles for burning as if they were nothing.  The claw on the Ackerman grasped multiple full length tree trunks at one time and the machine gallumphed its way to the road side of the pasture where the timber was stacked neatly.  Then he pulled out all the stumps for burning as well.  Nick and his Ackerman were heavensent.  We advertised the wood for free and it was gone in a week.  The Lakeville Hose Co. burnt the brush and stump piles for practice in fire control and containment, making sure the embers were completely dead before leaving.

Walking over the cleared expanse we found ourselves stumbling over whole and piecemeal brown bricks projecting up out of the ground.  Humph, must have been a brickyard here sometime in the past!  Good source of clay for such things.  A nice to know historic tidbit, but Holy cow! Now someone had to scour the clearing with a wheel barrow, digging all the bricks out of the ground before we could plant grass and eventually turn horses out on it.  I could picture the lamed horses from bruised hooves, turned joints and/or broken equine legs in my mind.  Muttering curses under my breath I got the wheelbarrow out and started collecting bricks into piles around the perimeter of the field.  The whole time I was wracking my brain to figure out what we might be able to do of any use with the bricks, but could come up with no brilliant  ideas.

Over the next year we seeded, fertilized, chemically weeded and eventually had a semblance of grass pasture established.  However, true to New England, every winter and spring I discovered more brick had been pushed up to the surface by the winter frost.  Just like the New England fieldstone pops up to the surface annually.  Unfortunately for us, we bought the only piece of New England that does not have one single piece of fieldstone on it.  Just old broken bricks.  It was during the ensuing first couple of years collecting bricks every spring that I stumbled upon the old town maps with the name “Brickyard” scrawled across our little piece of paradise.

As time passed I fenced the pasture and we had a small barn built.  We also acquired two horses, have taken in numerous stray and rescue cats, and in the last three years raised chickens for their fresh eggs.  I continue to collect bricks in piles and have occasionally used them to paint whimsical cottages for garden elves to live in, used the bricks for door stops and offered them to anyone who might be interested.  George Kiefer phoned me a couple years ago to excitedly asked if I knew my place used to be the town brickyard.  I told him I was aware of it and that I had brick all over the place.  He asked for one and I took him two – one for him and one for his son Matt.  George proudly keeps his historic brick on the mantle at home.

So, now after twenty plus years of fretting and worrying over what we should name our little horse and chicken farm, it struck me recently that the only possible  name that would be both totally unique to the area and apropos was Brickyard Farm. If you are interested in a brick doorstop, mantle accessory or an Elf House, please let me know and I will see what we can do for you.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ami Bierbower
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 00:16:11

    That was a GREAT story! How lucky for you two. I bought a place on Factory street and I cant wait to learn more history about it. Ive heard all different things and am not sure whats what and or where but hope to learn soon.
    I heard I should talk to George too. I dont know him but I think I might just give him a call and see if he will meet with me and fill me in.

    I think next you should start digging up some of that clay and maybe get a wheel and build one of those really cool homemake kilns. 🙂

    Enjoy “The Brickyard Farm”!


    • Kathy Lauretano
      Feb 16, 2013 @ 19:20:44

      Ami – Sorry not to have answered you before now but I have not looked at my blog for quite a long time. Will explain that to you some other time in person. Glad you enjoyed the story about Brickyard Farm, and you should defintiely go see George Kiefer. He would get a big kick out of it, is still sharp as a tack in his ’90’s. You should also go find the huge old antique maps of the town that hang at Town Hall and locate your piece of land on them. You may discover some useful information to start with right there. You can also trace it back through the various owners on the property maps and deeds at the Clerk’s office. Then you take the old family names to the library or Salisbury Historical Society and look them up in the historic books on Salisbury to see who they were and what they did.

      Best regards,

      Kathy Lauretano


  2. Ami
    Feb 16, 2013 @ 23:38:50

    Thank you!
    Funny I have done all of what you said except contact George. The library historian had some stuff but not enough. I have learned more from neighbors and stuff but it was still good. I love maps, I wish I could find a copy of that really cool old map in town hall. I would love to hang it in my office at home.

    So do you think the clay on your land is the kind that you could make pottery out of? That would be really cool. Maybe it’s just the clay for bricks, Im sure there must be different kinds. Once I get my house to a point where I can stop and play I want to do a ladies craft night once a week and do different things. I have a potters wheel. Maybe we can find out if the clay is good for pottery, that would be really cool if it is and we could make some “Salisbury clay” items for charity or something. I don’t know could be fun.
    Have a great weekend and enjoy your little piece of paradise 🙂


    • Kathy Lauretano
      Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:46:18

      Don’t know if the clay here can be used for pottery, but perhaps I can dig some up for you to try. I am into decorative painting – all sorts of household objects, floor cloths, murals, canvas and such. Certified in Donna Dewberry’s One Stroke technique to teach. Time to indulge in it is the challenge


  3. Ami
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 10:20:09

    Oh cool, me too. (not sure if you said that because you already know thats what I do or not) I took a cool class on using clay as a plaster on walls once. I know a guy up at Sheffield pottery, I bet I could tell me for sure. Sounds like a fun summertime plan 🙂


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