Jones Family Farm to honor patriarch with outdoor pavilion

Jones Family Farms will pay tribute to the longtime patriarch of the family farming operation with a new outdoor pavilion.

The outdoor structure will honor the late Philip Hubbell Jones, who died in 2015 at age 96. Jones began planting evergreen trees on the farm in the late 1930s, later realizing people would pay to cut down their own Christmas trees.

He served as a state representative and was an active volunteer with many local nonprofit entities, such as the library, Scouts, land trust and farm organizations.

The pavilion will be constructed at Jones' Homestead Farm location on Walnut Tree Hill Road, next to the winery and cooking studio. A 39-foot-wide concrete base recently was created for the pavilion.

Being used in construction will be timber harvested on the 400-acre farm in White Hills from trees believed to have been planted by Phil Jones through the years.

Known unofficially for now as "Philip's Pavilion," the structure will feature eastern white pine for framing beams, black locust for framing pegs and eastern white spruce for roof planks, all from Jones Farm.

Western red cedar from elsewhere will be used for the roof shingles.

The covered pavilion will be a decagon, or a 10-sided structure. "That's kind of unique," said Gerry Glover of the Shelton-based G.L. Construction Co., who is overseeing the project.

The structure should be completed by the end of July, depending on weather and other factors. Glover still is waiting for the milled lumber to arrive from a mill in eastern Connecticut.

The family was inspired to construct the pavilion when they saw a similar structure at a state agricultural facility in Hamden, according to Tom Harbinson, facilities and hospitality manager at Jones Family Farms.

The pavilion will provide "a sheltered space to do wine tastings" during the busy season, Harbinson said. Such events previously took place in temporary tents erected on-site.

The pavilion also may be used for outdoor cooking courses, other educational activities and special events, he said.

Harbinson said the Homestead Farm area is busiest in the summer and fall, when the Wine Down and other activities take place in an outdoor courtyard.

Glover said he's honored to be involved in a project to memorialize Phil Jones, who he knew for many years. Glover has worked on many building projects at Jones Family Farms.

"Phil was a great man," Glover said. "I don't think I ever met anyone who didn't like him. He was a fair and honest man, and a philanthropist."

Jones Farm was started by Phil's great grandfather in 1848, and Phil spent his entire life living and working there. It originally was a beef, poultry and apple operation before specializing in dairy cattle.

Phil Jones came up with the idea of selling Christmas trees in the late 1940s. The last of the dairy herd was sold off in the 1960s. Phil never officially retired, running a small custom sawmill operation on the farm into his early 90s.

According to his obituary, Phil Jones had a "passion for lifelong learning" and pursued interests in trees, history, collecting and land stewardship. He and his late wife, Elisabeth, had three children.

Their son Terry later expanded the farm with pick-your-own berries and pumpkins, and Terry's son, Jamie, eventually started the Jones Winery. The farm includes three distinct locations — Pumpkinseed Hill, Valley Farm and Homestead Farm.

Terry said this pavillion means everything to the family and is just one way that his dad’s legacy will live on.

“He was a man who was in love with trees, and what better way to celebrate him other than a pavilion that everybody would enjoy at the farm’s winery,” said Terry.