We are truly fortunate that Greenvale Vineyards carries on the tradition of Portsmouth farming.  Established as a model “Gentleman’s Farm” by China Merchant John Barstow, the farm and stick style house went into neglect after Barstow’s death.   Major General James Parker’s wife, Charlotte Condit Parker, was among the various heirs to the property. The Parkers took a real interest in Greenvale and brought it back to life. When James Parker retired in 1918, he and his wife resolved to make Greenvale their home and restore the property as a working farm. They began to work on the stick style Barstow house to make it livable and bright for the family. They hired a farmer and re-established a working farm with fields, chickens, pigs, geese, turkeys and a dairy herd.

While living in retirement on Aquidneck Island, Parker continued to be forward thinking, even if some of his ideas met with opposition.  An April 26, 1929 article in the Newport Mercury contains a letter Parker wrote in support of using Kings Park in Newport as a station for Curtis Flying Services seaplanes.  Parker believed it was the best site with passengers embarking and disembarking from the city pier.  He believed seaplanes were safer than airplanes.  “Air travel is sure to come.”  Seaplanes could make a two hour run from New York to Newport and that would enhance the value of Newport as a summer residence.  Mrs. J. Nicholas Brown and her son opposed that use for the park.

Before his retirement to Portsmouth, James Parker had a brilliant forty-two year career in the military. A graduate of West Point, Parker served in the Indian Wars (including chasing Geronimo), the Spanish American War, the Philippine-American War and World War I.  He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for combat at close quarters during an attack by an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers  in the Philippines in 1899.  He rose to the rank of Major General.

In 1934, Major General James Parker was buried with full military honors at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth.  James Parker’s son, Major General Cortlandt Parker, whose grave in close to his father’s also retired to Greenvale and continued the farm.  His grandson, Cortlandt Parker, went on to establish the vineyard that makes Greenvale a going farm today.  Family members, including Nancy Parker Wilson, continue to keep Greenvale a beautiful part of Portsmouth’s farming heritage.

Vintage image of the Barstow house at Greenvale