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GEO. E. WARING, JR.
CONSULTING ENGINEER FOR SANITARY AND AGRICULTURAL
JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY,
(Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co.)
BY GEO. E. WARING, JR.
FRANKLIN PRESS: RAND, AVERY, & CO.,
The following papers on Village Improvements and Farm Villages are
reprinted, with some amendments, from "Scribners Monthly." These
constitute the more practical part of the book, so far as villages are
It has, however, been judged appropriate to add to them a paper on
Eastern Farming, which originally appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly,"
and which continues the discussion of the question of village residence
as a means for mitigating some of the hardships which beset the lives of
isolated country families.
The wide-spread and growing interest in the topics considered makes it
seem worth while to give these short essays a more permanent form.
G. E. W., JR.
NEWPORT, R.I., June, 1877.
VILLAGE IMPROVEMENTS 11
VILLAGE SANITARY WORK 69
FARM VILLAGES 114
LIFE AND WORK OF THE EASTERN FARMER 159
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
FIG. 1. - DRAINAGE OF HILL-SIDE FOOT-PATH 31
FIG. 2. - SECTION OF ROAD WITH DRAINS 44
FIG. 3. - PIPES RESTING ON THEIR SHOULDERS 73
FIG. 4. - PIPES RESTING ON THEIR FULL LENGTH 73
FIG. 5. - GREASE-TRAP 79
FIG. 6. - FIELD'S FLUSH-TANK 80
FIG. 7. - THE EMERSON VENTILATOR 86
FIG. 8. - DIAGRAM ILLUSTRATING MANNER OF SEWAGE
DISPOSAL AT LENOX, MASS. 97
FIG. 9. - SETTLING BASIN 102
FIG. 10. - ARRANGEMENT OF ABSORPTION DRAINS, 105
FIG. 11. - DIVISION OF FOUR SQUARE MILES WITH
CENTRAL VILLAGE 124
FIG. 12. - DIVISION OF THE CENTRAL VILLAGE 126
FIG. 13. - DIVISION OF THE CENTRAL OPEN SPACE
OF THE VILLAGE 131
FIG. 14. - PRESENT DIVISION AND SETTLEMENT OF
TRACT IN RHODE ISLAND 133
FIG. 15. - THE RHODE ISLAND TRACT WITH ITS
BUILDINGS GATHERED TOGETHER INTO A COMPACT
FIG. 16. - PROPOSED ARRANGEMENT OF THE RHODE
ISLAND FARM VILLAGE 139
It may be because the newness of our country and the fragile character
of our early structures have prevented the accumulation of inferior,
ugly, and uncomfortable houses, as the nucleus around which later
building has crystallized; it may be from circumstances which have
prevented the isolated residence of the better classes of our people; or
it may be the result of accident. Whatever the reason, it is beyond
dispute that the United States is _par excellence_ a land of beautiful
villages. North, south, east, and west, there are plenty of hideous
conglomerations of poor-looking houses, with an absence of every element
of beauty; but there are thousands of other villages scattered all over
the land, which are full of the evidences of good taste in their
regulation and in their management.
As a rule, these more attractive features are very much modified by the
presence of badly-kept private places or neglected public buildings, and
by a general air of untidiness. Still, the foundation of attractiveness
is there; and nothing is needed beyond a well-organized and well-guided
control of public sentiment, to remove or to hide the more objectionable
features, and to permit such beauty as the village may possess to
The real elements of beauty in a village are not fine houses, costly
fences, paved roadways, geometrical lines, mathematical grading, nor any
obviously costly improvements. They are, rather, cosiness, neatness,
simplicity, and that homely air that grows from these and from the
presence of a home-loving people.
To state the case tersely, the shiftless village is a hideous village,
while the charm which we often realize without analyzing it comes of
affectionate care and attention.
There are villages in New England, in Western New York, and all over the
West, even to the far side of Arkansas, which impress the visitor at
once as being homelike and full of sociability and kindliness; which
delight him, and lead him almost to wish that his own lot had been cast
within their shades. These are chiefly villages where the evidences of
public and private care predominate, or are at least conspicuous. A
critical examination would, in almost every case, develop very serious
evidence of neglect, unwholesomeness, and bad neighborhood.
Within a few years, beginning, I believe, in Massachusetts, the more
thoughtful of those whose affections are centred in their village homes
have united in organized efforts to make their villages more tidy, to
interest all classes of society in attention to those little details the
neglect of which is fatal, and to make the village, what it certainly
should be, an expression of the interest of its people in their homes
and in the surroundings of their daily life.
The first of these associations of which I have any knowledge (though,
as such work is unobtrusive, there may have been many before it) was the
"Laurel Hill Association" of Stockbridge, Mass. It takes its name from a
wooded knoll in the centre of the village, which had been dedicated to
public use. The first object of the association was to convert this
knoll into a village park. Then they took in hand the village
burial-ground, which was put in proper condition and suitably surrounded
with hedge and railing. Then the broad village street was properly
graded and drained, and agreeable walks were made at its sides.
Incidentally to this, the people living along both sides of the streets
were encouraged to do what they could to give it an appropriate setting
by putting their own premises into tasteful condition and maintaining
them so. The organization worked well, and accomplished good results.
The Rev. N. P. Eggleston, formerly of Stockbridge, in a paper on village
improvements written for the "New York Tribune," thus describes the
collateral work and influences of the Laurel Hill Association: -
"Next followed the planting of trees by the roadside wherever trees
were lacking. The children, sometimes disposed in their
thoughtlessness to treat young trees too rudely, were brought in as
helpers of the association, while at the same time put under a
beneficial culture for themselves. Any boy who would undertake to
watch and care for a particular tree for two years was rewarded by
having the tree called by his name. Other children were paid for
all the loose papers and other unsightly things which they would
pick up and remove from the street.
"Gradually the work of the association extended. It soon took in
hand the streets connected with the main street. Year by year it
pushed out walks from the centre of the village toward its outer
borders; year by year it extended its line of trees in the same
manner; and year by year there has been a marked improvement in the
aspect of the village. Little by little, and in many nameless ways,
the houses and barns, the dooryards and farms, have come to wear a
look of neatness and intelligent, tasteful care, that makes the
Stockbridge of to-day quite a different place from the Stockbridge
of twenty years ago. Travellers passing through it are apt to speak
of it with admiration as a finished place, and, compared with most
even of our New England villages, it has such a look; but the
Laurel Hill Association does not consider its home finished, nor
its own work completed. Still the work goes on. Committees are even
now conning plans for further improvements. By itself, or by
suggestions and stimulations offered to others, the association is
aiming at the culture of the village people through other agencies
than those of outward and physical adornment. It fosters libraries,
reading-rooms, and other places of resort where innocent and
healthful games, music and conversation will tend to promote the
social feeling, and lessen vice by removing some of its causes."
No one can drive through this beautiful old place without realizing the
effect of some influence different from that which has usually been at
work in country towns. One feels that it is a village of homes; that the
people who live in it love it, and that it has no public or private
interest so insignificant as to be neglected.
I have cited this instance somewhat at length, because it was the first,
as it is the most complete, that has come to my notice. In other places,
more serious work of improvement has been undertaken in the direction of
sewerage, gas-lighting, &c. In fact, the present writing was suggested
by frequent requests for information and advice on the more practical
parts of the subject.
At the outset it is to be said that the organization and control of the
village society is especially woman's work. It requires the sort of
systematized attention to detail, especially in the constantly-recurring
duty of "cleaning up," that grows more naturally out of the habit of
good housekeeping than out of any occupation to which men are
accustomed. Then, too, it calls for a degree of leisure which women are
the most apt to have, and it will especially engage their interest as
being a real addition to the field of their ordinary routine of life.
The sort of enthusiasm which has led to marked success in the Dorcas
Society and other organized action outside of the household, for which
American country women are noted, will find here a new and engaging
object. This, however, is only a suggestion by the way, and one which
may or may not be appropriate under varying circumstances.
If we assume, which is not altogether true, that the main purpose of
village improvement is to improve the _appearance_ of the village, we
must still understand that the direct object of the society should not
be alone nor chiefly in the direction of appearance.
What it is especially desirable that a village should appear to be is: a
wholesome, cleanly, tidy, simple, modest collection of country homes,
with all of its parts and appliances adapted to the pleasantest and most
satisfactory living of its people. All improvements should therefore
have this fundamental tendency, and every element of adornment, and
every evidence of careful attention, should be only an outgrowth of the
effort to obtain the best practical results. Costly park railing where
no railing is needed, width of roadway greater than the needs of the
community require, formal geometric lines and surfaces where more
natural slopes and curves would be practically better, elaborate
fountains or statuary out of keeping with the general character of the
village, (the gift of a public-spirited, ambitious, and pretentious
fellow-townsman,) and isolated examples, as in a church or schoolhouse,
of a style of architecture which would be more appropriate for a
city, - all these are obtrusive and objectionable, and are consequently
in bad taste. In so far as these or any other elements of improvement
are unsuited to the conditions in which they are placed, they are
undesirable; and it would be well for those having the interest of the
village in charge, to adopt an early resolution to accept no gifts, and
to allow no work of construction or embellishment, which is not, first
of all, appropriate to the modest character of a well-regulated country
If every public building is sufficient for its uses and suggests no
undue outlay for show alone; if the roads and walks are such as the uses
of the people require; if the fountain suggests a tasteful ornament and
centre of freshness and coolness, rather than a monument of some
citizens liberality and ambition; if the village green or park is a
proper pleasure-ground for old and young; and, in short, if every thing
that is done and every dollar that is expended has for its object only
the improvement of the conditions of living, - then there will be needed
only the element of careful keeping to maintain always the best sort of
beauty that is possible under the circumstances.
No satisfactory result can be attained without organization. The work
will necessarily require much money and more time in order to avoid an
undue tax upon individuals. It is desirable, too, that, so far as
possible, every member of the community should be interested in the
work, and should contribute in labor or in money according to his means.
This general interest can be secured much better through the influence
of an organization in which all are interested, than by any individual
The association should become the distributor, not only of the moneys
accruing from membership fees, &c., but of contributions made by
citizens, or subscriptions raised by combined effort for general or
specific works of improvement. It should be, in fact, not only the
inciter of public spirit, but the director of public effort.
The precise form of constitution for such an association must
necessarily depend more or less on circumstances; and I sketch only as a
basis for discussion, the following form suggested by the regulations
governing the Laurel Hill Association of Stockbridge: -
This Association shall be called "The Village Improvement
Association of - - ."
The object of this Association shall be to improve and ornament the
streets and public grounds of the village by planting and
cultivating trees, establishing and maintaining walks, grading and
draining roadways, establishing and protecting good grass plats and
borders in the streets and public squares, securing a proper public
supply of water, establishing and maintaining such sewerage as
shall be needed for the best sanitary condition of the village,
providing public fountains and drinking-troughs, breaking out paths
through the snow, lighting the streets, encouraging the formation
of a library and reading-room, and generally doing whatever may
tend to the improvement of the village as a place of residence.
The officers of this Association shall be a President, two
Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, who shall constitute
the Executive Committee. These officers shall be elected at the
annual meeting, and shall hold their offices until their successors
shall have been elected.
It shall be the duty of the President, and in his absence of the
senior Vice-President, to preside at all meetings of the
Association, and to carry out all orders of the Executive
It shall be the duty of the Secretary to keep a correct and careful
record of all proceedings of the Association, and of the Executive
Committee, in a book suitable for their preservation; to give
notice of all meetings of the Association and of the Executive
Committee; to make all publications, and to give all public and
private notices ordered by the Executive Committee, and to attend
to all the correspondence of the Association.
It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to keep the funds of the
Association, and to make such disbursements as may be ordered by
the Executive Committee.
It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to manage all the
affairs of the Association, to employ all laborers, to make all
contracts, to expend all moneys, and generally to direct and
superintend all improvements which in their discretion, and with
the means at their command, will best serve the public interest.
The Executive Committee shall hold a meeting at least once in each
month, and as much oftener as they may deem expedient.
The Executive Committee shall have power to institute premiums to
be awarded for planting and protecting ornamental trees, and for
doing such other acts as may seem to them worthy of such
encouragement. They shall also encourage frequent public meetings
of the Association and of citizens generally, both with a view to
maintain an interest in their work, and for the general
encouragement of the habit of meeting for discussion and amusement.
Three members of the Executive Committee present at any meeting
shall constitute a quorum for transacting business; and the vote of
a majority of those present shall be binding on the Association.
No debt shall be contracted by the Executive Committee beyond the
amount of available funds within their control to pay it; and no
member of this Association shall be liable for any debt of the
Association beyond the amount of his or her subscription.
Every person over fourteen years of age who shall plant and
protect a tree under the direction of the Executive Committee, or
who shall pay the sum of one dollar annually, and shall obligate
him or herself to pay the same for three years, shall be a member
of this Association; and every child under fourteen years of age,
who shall pay or shall become obligated to pay as before the sum of
twenty-five cents annually for three years, shall be a member of
The payment of ten dollars annually for three years, or of
twenty-five dollars in one sum, shall constitute a person a member
of this Association for life.
The autograph signatures of all members of the Association shall be
preserved in a book suitable for that purpose.
An annual meeting of the Association shall be held at such place as
the Executive Committee may direct, on the fourth Wednesday of
August, at two o'clock, P.M. Notice of such meeting shall be posted
on each of the churches and at the post-office at least seven days
prior to the time of holding said meetings, and a written notice
shall be sent to all non-resident members. Other meetings of the
Association may be called by the Executive Committee on seven days'
notice as above prescribed.
At the annual meeting, the Executive Committee shall report the
amount of money received during the year, and the source from which
it has been received; the amount of money expended during the year,
and the objects for which it has been expended; the number of trees
planted at the cost of the Association; the number planted by
individuals, with the location, the kind of tree, and the name of
the planter; and generally all of the acts of the Committee. This
report shall be entered on the record of the Association.
Any person who shall plant a tree under the direction of the
Executive Committee, and shall protect it for five years, shall be
entitled to have such tree known forever by his or her name.
This Constitution may be amended by the Executive Committee with
the approval of the majority of the members present at any annual
meeting of the Association, or at any special meeting, the notice
of which shall have been accompanied by a copy of the proposed
amendment, with the statement that the amendment is to be voted on
at such meeting.
I have provided, in the above draft of a constitution, for an executive
committee of only five members; for the reason that, while it will be
comparatively easy to secure the services of this number, the duties and
responsibilities of a larger committee would be so distributed that
there would be too often occasion for the application of the old adage:
"What is everybody's business is nobody's business." The Laurel Hill
Association has an executive committee of fifteen, in addition to seven
officers. This large committee (twenty-two) serves to secure the
interest of a larger number of citizens; but the same thing may be as
well accomplished by inviting the co-operation of citizens in the work
of sub-committees, the chairman of each of which would be a member of
the regular executive committee. In Easthampton, Mass., there is a board
of fourteen directors, and there are committees on sanitary matters, on
setting out trees, on sidewalks and hitching-posts, &c. It would be
prudent to restrict the number of members of these sub-committees to
three; one from the executive committee and two from outside.
Besides special executive work, a vast deal has been done wherever
improvement societies have been organized, in the way of stimulating
citizens to adorn their private grounds, or at least to keep their
grounds and fences in good order, removing weeds and rubbish from the
sidewalk, keeping the grass well trimmed and free from litter and
leaves. What most detracts from the good appearance of any village is
the slovenly look which comes from badly hung gates, crooked fences,
absent pickets, and general shiftlessness about private places; and it
is by encouraging citizens to take a pride in attention to these minor
details, that the association will do its best work. This result may be
accomplished almost entirely without the expenditure of money. It is in
attention to little things and in securing the co-operation of private
owners, - a co-operation which will call for an inappreciable amount of
labor, - that the most telling work of the officers of the society is to
So far as these details are concerned, it is hardly necessary in a paper
of this sort to do more than to call attention to them. They are within
the capacity of every citizen, and they will naturally suggest
themselves to any person who would be likely to undertake the direction
of an improvement association. There are other and really more important
objects looking to a certain amount of landscape gardening and
engineering, on which specific instruction may be desired, and often in
cases where it will be impracticable to employ professional assistance.
These are as follows: -
1. The construction of sidewalks.
2. The construction and care of roadways.
3. The supply of water, and the construction of drinking-troughs.
4. The laying-out and adornment of public squares and other open spaces.
5. The establishment of a system of sewerage or sanitary drainage,
including the removal of excessive soil moisture.
No one thing has more to do with the comfort of those living in country
villages than sidewalks which are good at all seasons of the year. Those
fortunate villages which are built on a gravelly soil, with a perfect
natural drainage, need little more in this direction than such a
conformation of the surface as will prevent water from standing on the
footway when the ground is frozen. At all other times it sinks naturally
away into the earth. It is much more often the case that the character
of the soil or subsoil prevents a settling away of water, or that
subterranean oozing from higher ground keeps the earth throughout the
spring and autumn, and after heavy rains in summer, damp, and often
sloppy. Wherever the ground is of such a character as to prevent the
rapid sinking to a considerable depth of all excessive moisture, there
is sure to be a disagreeable condition of the footway whenever the lower
soil is locked with frost, and the surface is thawed. Even with the best
drainage, natural or artificial, this condition will exist for a short
time while frost is coming out of the ground; but with good drainage it
is of so temporary a character as hardly to justify any expensive
finishing of the surface, except perhaps in the case of the most