Legacy of Progress
NEW! Moodus History Blog
Resorts of Moodus
A Day at Banner Lodge
Mills Along the River
The Best Fish Nets in America
The Coops Go Up in Smoke
Constant Waterman's Journals
Memories of Meat
The Last Whaler
Old Chimney Stacks
East Haddam in 1913
Ode to a River Town
Early East Haddam


Civil War Monument
Town of East Haddam
Earth Charter of Lower Valley
East Haddam Land Trust
Moodus Drum & Fife
The Moodus Noises
Moodus Town Green
Sanctuary at Shepardfields


CT Barns
CT Freedom Trail
CT Heritage Gateway
CT Historical Society
CT History Online
CT Landmarks
CT Town Greens
Eli Whitney Museum
Mark Twain House
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe
Mohegan Tribe
Mystic Seaport
Old State House


As We Tell Our Stories
Between Boston & New York
Colt: Legend & Legacy
Connecticut & the Sea
Crusaders & Criminals
East of the River
From Here to There
The Green
The Mark of Uncas
The New Pequot
The Real Bob Steele
Suburbia: The Good Life?
USS Nautilus
Working the Land



It's clear that the remaining coops on the old Joymax Poultry farm were ready to come down, with or without the help of the Simon family. Here, based on a Hometown Journal story published on June 9, 2000, is the story of the burning of the coops.  

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire
A Chapter of Moodus History Goes Up in Flames

Adapted from an article by JENNIFER FELCIANO

The heat was intense, the flames incredible, and the smoke could be seen as far away as Colchester. A spectator at the Sunday morning fire in Moodus asked Shelly Simon "How did it start?" Shelly's answer to that question is a long story. Take three generations of the Simon family and mix them well with Moodus history.

Max Simon, 1940s

It all began back in 1935 when brothers Max and Isidore Simon started what became the largest  family-run chicken farm in the area. Beginning with just a modest barn, at its peak the Simon Brothers chicken farm consisted of 55,000 chickens housed in four large coops and on two ranges. At one time the farm boasted 85 acres. Today the hilltop property is down to about 40 acres.

Simon Brothers would wholesale their farm-fresh eggs to most of the area resorts and many restaurants. One or two days a week, they also delivered eggs to Hartford grocery stores. In the 1940s Max was introduced to Joyce by a local resort owner who knew her and her parents as longtime summer guests. The city girl and the country boy hit it off, got married, raised three sons and worked the farm together.

"It was hard, dusty work. I did the bookkeeping, chicken vaccinations, and until a chef was hired on, the cooking for the family and as many as 12 hired hands," said Joyce. Some of those hired hands worked for the Simons' for 20 years. As on most farms, the family all helped out. "The boys were required to work on the farm until they were 16-years old," Joyce said. "After that they were allowed to decide for themselves."

Ken Simon, son of Joyce and Max, recalled candling and grading eggs, helping with chicken vaccinations and working the delivery routes. "Those days provided lessons that I'll value for a lifetime," Ken said. "The egg business was an all-consuming mixture of livestock management, farm maintenance and customer deliveries. It was also, both literally and figuratively, a stinky business. But I learned a lot about work, farming and marketing there. My father was the hardest working man I've known, but the family farm in general, and the egg business in particular, was a difficult business to sustain, primarily due to ever-increasing corporate agribusiness encroachment."

Isidore Simon left the business in the 60s at which time the farm changed its name from Simon Brothers to JoyMax Poultry. At that point, with the boys grown and away at college, it was just Joyce and Max and they continued to run the JoyMax poultry farm until 1976. From 1976 till sometime around 1993, Arbor Acres, the world's largest chicken breeder at the time, leased the back coop to raise laying chickens before moving its operation down south, where it's cheaper to raise chickens.

In 1977, the Simons renovated the front two coops into a gallery and art studio. Known as the Down On The Farm Gallery, the coops were now home to potters, glass blowers, woodworkers, jewelers, a musical instrument repair shop, and a bakery.

"Over 14 years Down on the Farm gained a great reputation in the professional craft community and it was great fun to do," said Ken, "but it was another difficult way to make a living." With Joyce retiring in 1992, the family decided to close the Gallery.

For a while, the family attempted to maintain the coop structures, but the forces of nature took over. Ken said it was then that he began talking to members of the East Haddam fire department. The rest of the story is now a chapter of Moodus history.

Volunteer firefighters from East Haddam, East Hampton and Haddam Neck set up equipment and held a live burn on Sunday, June 4, in order to test a compressed air foam system fire fighting agent. The burn went off without a glitch.

"The foam was extremely effective," Ken said. "It saved and protected two other buildings that were very close to the burning chicken coop. The firefighters were great, very professional and cautious. They had everything under control, and we're looking forward to working with them to take care of the second coop." 

Spectators, friends, family, and several airplanes buzzing overhead all watched as the Simon poultry farm took its place in history in a blaze of glory. The second coop was to be burned down a few months later.


From the Early 1900s
to Its Teardown


Ads & Flyers

Banner Lodge

Camp Wopowog

Cave Hill

Ted Hilton's

Other Resorts


Goodspeed, Gelston, Vistas, Travel & More


Celebrating a
River Crossing



SimonPure Productions, LLC P.O. Box 459, Moodus, CT 06469  860-873-3328  E-mail us

Television Program Development ● Video Production ● Web Content, Design & Video Development

Producers of Documentaries, Concerts, Corporate Video & Museum Exhibits

Specialists in Video, Web & New Media Projects that Focus on Public Policy, History, Lifestyle & Culture

All Contents Copyright 2012 Simonpure Productions, LLC