South Family Conservation Restriction
“The fundamental character of Harvard’s historic landscape is defined by the contrast between its three compact village centers and the outlying agricultural landscapes,” so states Harvard’s Heritage Landscape Inventory Report. Indeed, village centers within an agrarian setting recalls an age when people and land were intricately interconnected, each relying on and influencing the next to create unique communities. The 4.5-acre South Family Conservation Restriction (CR) contributes to protecting this defining characteristic of Harvard. The newly conserved land is located at the edge of the Shaker Village historic district, on the open land that backdrops the historic South Family building and the stone barn ruins on the north side of South Shaker Road. Countless motorists and cyclists traveling west along South Shaker Road for the first time have come around the bend to discover this iconic scene. It is common to find people along the road admiring and photographing this striking setting with its many unique and historic features. This wonderful gift to the community of Harvard and future generations is the result of a shared love of place between neighbors – the Warners, and the Kemezas and Vallaeys. Andy and Judy Warner have lived in this corner of Harvard for over four decades, generously donating an Historic Preservation Restriction (HPR) in 1996 to protect the integrity of the stone barn ruins. Will Kemeza and Charlotte Vallaeys purchased the South Family property in 2015, taking over stewardship of the historic home and stone barn ruins. Together, these neighbors turned their mutual appreciation and care for their properties into an arrangement that included the generous gift of a permanent CR that ensures the cultural and ecological integrity of this landscape. Among several important purposes written into the CR are: protection of scenic views, preservation of a culturally significant setting, and protection of the open condition of this land and its ability to be used for agriculture, as it has for centuries. The ability of the current and future owners to maintain a homestead and small farm that is environmentally sensitive is not only consistent with historic use, but it allows this land to contribute to a resilient and sustainable future for Harvard.