This is a cemetery, yes, but an unusual one; this is a photo of a bull cemetery located on the Holy Cross grounds near Stonehill College. This graveyard for Frederick Lothrop Ames Jr.’s prized bulls was located somewhere near the barn, which has since been converted, but the tombstones disappeared, and no one knows where they went. According to Reverend Anthony V. Szakaly, C.S.C., when work was being done on an irrigation system some years ago, a large bull bone “popped up”. Today it is displayed in the College archives.
Photograph of Bull Cemetery. Courtesy of Stonehill College Archives. Six of the best bulls were buried here. Langwater Guernsey’s were genetically superior and from the 1920's until the 1960's the Langwater cow was considered the perfect cow.
Stonehill College was founded in 1948 by the Congregation of the Holy Cross. It is located on what was once the estate of Frederick Lothrop Ames Jr. Today Holy Cross priests and brothers live on the part of the Stonehouse Hill estate where Frederick Ames housed his prized Guernsey cows. Fr. Tony gave me a tour of the lovely grounds here, where past and present meet. Frederick Ames’s cow barn is now living accommodation for the priests and brothers. He took me up to the attic where the charred beams from a fire in the late 1920’s can still be seen. Fortunately, the barn was mostly spared.
Above, renovated cow barn, now housing for priests and brothers.
Charring in the attic from a fire in the ‘20’s.
A view of the old farm silo that now houses a chapel. The silo is on the left and obscured by trees.
A better view of the silo.
Today, the building that originally housed the old Ames Airport Office and Farm Office serves as a residence for priests. According to Fr. Tony, their closet is the old walk-in safe. As for the Retreat House itself, “The Holy Cross Retreat House is made up of the old cow stalls and the bull pen with later additions made of surplus World War II army barracks. The chapel of the retreat house was once the old hayloft for the cows.” (Fr.Tony)
The Holy Cross Retreat House from the outside. It was once a barn for cows and bulls.
Inside the Holy Cross Retreat house it is possible to imagine the old cow stalls. The footprint is the same. The stalls have been converted into rooms for those on retreat.
A view of the chapel in the hayloft.
There is much more to be said about the history of the Ames farm and the repurposing of the estate, but space is limited. At one time, this particular piece of land was home to a thriving farm known for its Guernsey cattle and Clydesdale horses (Clock Farm). Also- it was the site of an early airfield. I know that somewhere in the ground- though not exactly sure where- strong Guernsey bones still linger, reminders of times past, lush green fields, and fresh raw milk.
Thank you to Reverend Anthony V. Szakaly, C.S.C.
Anne Wooster Drury
Anne Wooster Drury