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Jan 24, 2023

Historic Havens: Ivy Hill Farm at the Borden Homestead

By Lori Draz

This month, Historic Havens was invited into the lovely private home of Lawrence and Liz Lobaugh. It’s a quick turn off busy Broad Street in Shrewsbury, feet from the historic four corners, to take this step back in time to Francis Borden’s Homestead, now called Ivy Hill Farmhouse at the Francis Borden Homestead. This warm, inviting home was built in 1839 and has been the pleasant host to several owners over time, each of whom has made alterations but kept the historic integrity of the home intact. Previous owners, along with the Lobaughs, have expressed the home seems to communicate its happy history to all who have resided there.

Ivy Hill Farmhouse is a Greek revival which was considered an elegant and most desirable style of the time. The beams of the original construction were connected with no nails, and the wood was pre-Civil War.
The original portions of the two-story home included three bedrooms upstairs. The original stairs remain, and the original bannister on the stair has a silky smooth feeling – the result of decades of polishing by hands running up and down the stairs. The lower level was the living space which included a still-roaring fireplace where they cooked in the colder months and what they called a “mourning and borning room.” This is where Mrs. Borden gave birth to her nine children, all of whom were raised together in these compact quarters. The other use for the room was the place where the dearly departed were laid out. The room has a window that allowed visitors to stop by and pay their respects from the yard.

The home also had a summer kitchen on the opposite end which was used in hot weather so the main living area could be kept as cool as possible. The summer half of the house also had a sleeping porch which was used when people were ill to keep infections in the family down. The two sections were connected by a breezeway, which they called a boardwalk. That boardwalk area has now been turned into a central dining room, but the original boardwalk flooring remains. In fact, all floor boards are original and speak in occasional creaks to let you know there are visitors. There is also a lovely corner cupboard and bookcase, which was an elegant use of space, considered premium for the era. The cupboard still has all its original hinges and roping.

The Lobaughs speak of the home with such great affection, referring to it as her and she, giving it status as a living member of their family. The home does have a noticeable positive energy flowing through it, seemingly returning the love and respect the Lobaughs have for it. There is also something special about the windows and the lighting. The windows are all historic; some even have small inscriptions, requiring expert craftsmen for any repairs. These magic windows create exquisite lighting effects in the home, which is particularly appreciated by the owners. Lawrence is an art director and Liz a writer, enhancing their understanding of special personality in this home.

The lighting fixtures are all originals as well with Lawrence’s favorite being the hanging chandelier in hallway. The living room area has had bookcases added, but the pocket doors have been in the house since its construction.

The yard is equally charming and includes a small conservatory garden where Mrs. Borden grew all the family vegetables. Liz remarked that no matter what the Lobaughs plant, each flourishes in this happy soil. She says they use no chemicals and don’t consider themselves expert gardeners, crediting the productivity in part to the loving energy of the home and its original owners.

The property also had a cow barn, which needed significant repairs. The Lobaughs were careful about removing and reusing the wood from the exterior. The couple repurposed the space as a studio where Lawrence creates art on one side and Liz does her writing on the other. Lawrence even used the salvaged wood to make some furniture and desks for the studio.

Ivy Hill Farmhouse at the Francis Borden Homestead thrives and is part of the remarkable historic fabric of Shrewsbury. The Journal thanks Lawrence and Liz Lobaugh for their hospitality and for sharing this home with our readers.