stern farmhouse

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Senior Member
Best case, it [the farm track] would lead to a stern old farmhouse, ideally in continuous occupation by the same family for two centuries or more, ideally with a very old farmer sitting in a wheelback chair by the stove in the kitchen, with a rug on his knees, ready to talk for hours about his long-ago neighbours a mile to the north.
Maybe they had torn down the stern old structure.
Source: Past Tense by Lee Child

What does a stern house mean? dilapidated? solid? I get the meaning of stern discipline, stern reprimand, stern times, stern expression, stern face... but not stern farmhouse.

Thank you.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    It is a little difficult to describe - I see it as a weakened sense of "stern": In respect of a building: completely unadorned, solidly built, entirely functional, emanating some distant authority of purpose.
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