The 1830s Farmstead is representative of the permanent farms that were constructed in southwestern Pennsylvania in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as the American frontier moved westwards.
The restored Adam Miller Farmhouse is the centerpiece of the Historical Center's recreated 1830s Farmstead. The farmhouse was built by Adam Miller sometime in the 1790s on a tract of land called “Paradise,” located near Berlin, Pennsylvania about ten miles from the Historical Center. The house was brought to the Somerset Historical Center in the 1960s and has recently been restored.
The furnishings of the Adam Miller Farmhouse are typical of western Pennsylvania homesteads in the early 19th century and are based on tax and estate records. The main floor of the house functioned as a multi-purpose room, serving simultaneously as a kitchen, bedroom and workroom. The second floor was used for storage of preserved meat, herbs, onions and flax and also served as sleeping quarters for the children. The house is surrounded by herb and vegetable gardens, a small orchard, and grain and flax fields typical of the early agriculture of the area. The farmhouse was built from hewn logs interlocked with half-dovetail notches, the spaces between the logs being filled with chinking.
An early 19th century log smokehouse stands next to the farmhouse. Prior to the development of refrigeration meat was preserved through the smoking process. First, the meat was cured by rubbing it with a mixture of salt, saltpeter and sugar or by soaking it in a brine of this mixture. The meat was then hung in the smokehouse above a smoldering fire. After several days of smoking, the meat was removed and stored high and dry in the attic of the house or under the roof of the smokehouse. Smoked meat could be stored for months without risk of spoiling. Few of these early wooden smokehouses have survived to the present day.
The detached farm kitchen recreates the "summer kitchens" that were once common on Somerset County farms in the 18th and 19th centuries. The heavy crop processing, slaughtering, and food preservation tasks typical of farm life were all carried out in and around the farm kitchen, leaving the fireplace and stove in the farmhouse free for meal preparation. The detached kitchen also allowed the family to devote extra space in the farmhouse towards the family's secondary occupations, such as weaving or storekeeping.
The barn is a replica built at the Historical Center on the model of a barn built in the region about 1820. Early southwestern Pennsylvania barns were usually constructed from logs. Unlike the house, there is no chinking between the logs on the upper half of the barn, providing a dry, ventilated storage space for hay or grain. Livestock was kept below. From the Direct Tax records of 1798 we know that Adam Miller, who owned one horse and one cow, had a barn of this size.