When purchased by the City of Parma with matching federal funds, the Gibbs farm (as it was known then) was the last remaining working farm in Parma. Stearns Homestead consists of several buildings two houses – operated as museums with furnishings appropriate to their eras, a Yankee style barn and several outbuildings. All are free and open to the public.
The Stearns House (circa 1855) was build by Lyman Stearns. The farmhouse is representative of the Greek Revival style of architecture, popular throughout the United States prior to the Civil War. Our young country, which adopted much of it’s form of government from the Greeks, was also inspired by the “recent discoveries” of many Greek temples and antiquities.
Like most Greek Revival buildings, the original farmhouse structure had symmetrical, evenly spaced, multi-paned windows, substantial cornices that extend into gable ends as “returns”, and a roof with low pitched gables, similar to those of Greek temples. Also, it was, and is, painted “classically” white. It is one of the oldest remaining wooden houses in Ohio.
West Side Cleveland meat processor Earl C. Gibbs and his family bought the Stearns farm in 1919 and built the newer house in 1920. The family continued to graze cattle here through the 1970s, by which point the Parma suburbs had completely surrounded them. The City of Parma purchased the property from the Gibbs family in 1980 to preserve this unique remnant of Parma’s rural heritage. The Parma Area Historical Society has since maintained it as a working educational and historic farm.
The house is full of early twentieth century artifacts that are a wonder in this digital age. Most children – let alone adults – will be challenged to name the objects or describe their function!
Early New England farmers built their barns based on the traditional barn design they brought with them from England. They were approximately thirty by forty feet and had large, hinged doors on the long faces of the barn. Typically, there was no basement, and it was built on level ground.
The Stearns barn –built between 1836 and 1855 – is an example of a style that emerged in the U.S. in the mid 1800’s; the Yankee barn. A steeply pitched, timber-framed, side-gabled wood barn of post-and-lintel construction, it could house more cows – up to ten – then the earlier English style barn. The doors open on the gable end and there is a center corridor or “drive”. with the stalls, typical along one long wall, and hay and feed along the other. Although typically built into a hillside, the Stearns barn is on a flat site. It does feature the “new” style of siding called board and batten that was less drafty than the slatted English barns.
The Country Store is a museum and a store, stocked with historic items as well as current crafts and local treasures available for purchase. The outbuildings include several animal shelters including a chicken coop, turkey house, pig pen, others.