Rochester’s First Congregational Church is the oldest extant building still standing on the Town Green in Rochester Center and is the fourth house of worship to occupy the site. Constructed in 1837 to the designs of architect, Solomon K. Eaton, the beautiful Gothic Revival church building is among the most beautiful in the state. Eaton was well-known for his ecclesiastical structures, but also designed other prominent civic buildings in Southeastern Massachusetts. A fun fact about Eaton is that at age 55, he volunteered for the Union Army during the Civil War and his unit saw action in North Carolina, he returned home after the war and lived out his final days. The church stands out to me for the quatrefoil windows on the bell tower, the pointed finials and comer posts, and large lancet windows. Swoon!
In 1679, three years after the end of King Phillip’s War, an armed conflict in 1675–1678 between indigenous inhabitants of New England and New England colonists, land that would become Rochester, Mattapoisett,
Marion, and Wareham was purchased from King Phillip, and immediately divided among 32 proprietors of “Old Rochester.” The first white settlers took up residence in 1680, and the Town of Rochester was incorporated in 1686. Rochester town center was formally established in 1697 when land was set aside for a meetinghouse, burying ground and training field. Rochester’s first meetinghouse, built in 1699, served as a church and town building. A larger meetinghouse was built in 1717, and a third in 1760, doubling in size every time as the town’s population grew. The old buildings were insufficient for the growing farming town, and wealthy widow Elizabeth Leonard funded half the cost of a new town hall building. The current structure on the town green was built in 1892 and is an uncommon example of a Queen Anne style town hall in Massachusetts. The building originally was painted a darker color, common in the style, but was given a bright white paint scheme to blend in with the older buildings on the Green.
Amasa Snell (1794-1850) and his son Nelson built this house, just a year before his death. The house is yet another example of the vernacular snecked ashlar construction method, which Chester, Vermont is known for. This house is located in the rural Trebo section of town, an area where many of the masons who built these snecked ashlar homes lived. It stands out for the use of light and dark stone laid in alternating rows. This house is perfect!
One of the most visually striking homes in little Chester, Vermont, is the Durand House. Sited prominently on a hill, the 1861 home resembles a wedding dress in bright white with intricate spindles that look like lace. The house was seemingly built for Urban Durand, one of the proprietors of the successful Durand Brothers Market in Chester village. The home has an elaborately trimmed full-front porch with a second-story polygonal balcony, and a three-story corner tower with a shallow mansard roof, all possibly later additions. The house stands out in the village, which is largely dominated by classical Federal and Greek Revival houses.
This Italianate style house was built in 1868 for Augustus and Laura Blaisdell, natives of New Hampshire who moved here to Chester, Vermont, in 1860. The Blaisdell’s operated a company that manufactured fireproof roofing and paint at their home base in New Hampshire, and built this building on a prominent site in the village to promote sales, which were conducted from a storefront on its ground floor. The location of the Blaisdell House alongside the tracks of the local railroad depot, was strategic in order to provide ease in the transportation of goods to the village of Chester Depot from the New Hampshire-based headquarters of A.H. Blaisdell & Co.The home and store is significant in the local economy and is itself, a significant example of the Italianate style in town.
Located on the edge of the Chester Town Green, you can find this beautiful Federal style commercial building. The use of blind arches at the facade is a fairly common feature found in brick Federal style buildings in Vermont. The structure was built around 1830 and has served a variety of uses through its existence, the most notable being the tin shop owned by various members of the Miller and Hadley families that sold stoves and hardware during the latter half of the 19th century. The tin business in New England grew rapidly after 1820. Tin shop owners imported tinplated sheet iron from Great Britain, shaped it into a variety of forms, and distributed their finished goods through peddlers and country stores. They also sold tinware in their shops. Colanders, dippers, dish kettles, funnels, measures, and pans were in greatest demand. Other common items included lanterns, foot stoves, teapots, coffeepots, “tin kitchens”, skimmers, and sconces. After its use as a tin shop, the building was occupied as a telephone exchange and electric utility company office. It presently is home to an antique store.
Next to the Israel Moore house (last post) in Chester, VT, the Emery Bolles house is yet another beautiful example of a snecked ashlar building in central Vermont. The town of Chester has the largest concentration of these buildings in the state in the north village, now known as Stone Village. The building method was so popular that even a couple examples sprouted up in the larger Chester Village nearby. Erected for Emory Bolles (who operated a wagon shop next door), this 1841 house possesses a 5-bay facade and a later, distinguished Victorian-era full-width porch. The porch incorporates turned posts with a central gable above the steps that carries an openwork screen.
Located on Main Street in Chester, Vermont, you can find this perfect little Snecked Ashlar home. The building technique is very local and can be found in just a handful of towns in central Vermont. Scottish-born masons from Canada introduced the technique to local masons while erecting a mill in nearby Cavendish in 1832, and within a few years, the first stone structure in North Chester village was built by local masons. Soon after, the local school, church and other homes were all constructed the same way. This home outside the Stone Village district was built later than almost all other examples in town. It features Federal and Greek Revival detailing with a central fluted fan at the door and large gable-front roof.
Have you heard of Snecked Ashlar before?
Built in the mid-19th century this former home in Chester, VT, exhibits the range in tastes seen from the Classically inspired Greek Revival style to the ornate and over-the-top Queen Anne style. The original 1850 Greek Revival design of the house survives in its temple form and classical details, augmented by a visually dominant overlay of Queen Anne features. The house was acquired sometime after 1870 by the Haselton family, whose daughter Hattie married John Greenwood. The Greenwoods undertook a major renovation of the building about 1900, adding the elaborate front porch and other features, giving it the wedding cake or lace-like appearance we see today. The home was converted to apartments in the 1960s, but retains much of its architectural details, it is best known as the Gingerbread Apartments.
Next door to the Inn Victoria, the beautiful St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Chester, VT, stands out as one of the only Gothic Revival buildings in the town. A small group of residents gathered in the 1860s to found a Episcopal church in the town, which already had a dominant Congregational church. They furnished money which was matched by the diocese, and Merrick Wentworth was named senior warden. Members of his family and that of Frederick Fullerton, his son-in-law, formed a large part of the congregation. Frederick and Philette Wentworth Fullerton donated a building site across the street from their home (featured previously), and Mr. Wentworth’s nephew, Boston architect, William P. Wentworth, contributed plans for a Gothic-style frame church, which includes a tall corner belltower.