Roseland Cottage

Gentle Farming

Roseland Cottage, like many summer homes in the country, included a barn and other structures that supported country living.  The Bowens raised fruits and vegetables and some farm animals for their own use, both in Woodstock and at their home in Brooklyn. The barn was the center of this activity. Originally it contained a carriage room and hayloft–just the space under the north gable. Lucy’s and Henry’s sons were expected to contribute–Clarence and Herbert wrote about loading hay in the loft through the big five-sided door under the gable, shown here. Note the Gothic barge board, complete with stylized pointed arches.

Roseland Before Additions

Sawyer’s Landscape

This Woodstock landscape by J.J. Sawyer, of picnickers on a hill above Roseland Cottage, shows the house and the barn from the rear, as they were originally, before additions. The ell, attached to the barn is Roseland’s famous bowling alley—the oldest remaining one in the country, built in 1846 when the house was built. This landscape  now hangs in the dining room of Roseland Cottage.

The Nation's Oldest Bowling Alley


Henry Bowen was explicit: “A Bowling Alley, to be laid in the best manner with yellow pine plank, leveled with a spirit level and planed off all over with a smoothing plane, the plank to be laid edgeways to be 3 inches wide. Proper gutters to be formed on each side of the Alley and proper leader to be made on the side for conveying the ball back.” Our alley is a little over 53 feet long— ten feet shorter than today’s standard bowling alleys.

Ten pin bowling, which was very popular in the 1840s, replaced nine pin bowling in 1841 when nine pin was banned in Connecticut because of its association with gambling and drinking. In short, and with a little Yankee ingenuity, they just added another pin to get around the law.

Roseland Cottage’s bowling alley is certainly not the first in the country, but it is the oldest one that remains.

A Bowling Alley Gallery

Adding to the Barn

In 1867 an additional three acres of bordering land were purchased from the Congregational Church which enabled the expansion of the barn and a full semi-circular drive. The additions to the barn, which nearly tripled its size, probably took place when the cottage ell was expanded in the 1870s. The expansion called for horse stalls, space for pigs, chickens and other animals in the cellar, and feed and grain rooms. The plans, printed on linen, also called for maintaining the Gothic barge boards, in keeping with the 1846 design.

The Barn Today

The Outbuilding

Necessary to the smooth operation of Roseland Cottage were the woodshed, ice house, solarium and the other rooms of what we now call The Outbuilding, or Woodshed Complex.