Chester Tin Shop // c.1830

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.

Emery Bolles House // 1841

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.

Israel Moore Snecked Ashlar House // c.1846

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?

Wagon Hill Farm // 1804

Beginning in 1798, sea captain John Bickford (1765-1813), purchased a 127-acre farm which extended from the newly laid turnpike to the Oyster River. Bickford was a resident of Salem, Massachusetts, but owned his family’s homestead across the river on Durham Point and also purchased five other farms in the area but did not live on any of them. The Wagon Hill farmhouse was built in 1804 and is a great example of a vernacular Federal style house. In 1814 while on a voyage to the southern tip of Africa, Captain Bickford died. All of his New Hampshire property was sold except for this Durham farm which remained under the management of his widow, Mary Bickford. She worked as a housekeeper for Captain Joseph White in Salem, and rented out the Durham farm. In 1830, the farm was sold to Samuel Chesley, and it remained in the ownership of four generations of the Chesley family. Here, the family ran a diversified farm, from sheep, to ducks, to apple orchards. In 1960, the farm was sold to Loring and Mary Tirrell. Farming had ceased entirely by the time the Tirrells moved into the house but the fields were kept open and it’s agricultural past was honored by the placement of an old wagon on the crest of the hill. Over the years, the farm has become known to local residents as Wagon Hill Farm. It was purchased by the town in 1989, and serves as a lasting remnant of agricultural history and an amazing preserved open space in the town.

James Paul House // c.1835

The James Paul House in Durham, NH, stands out as a rare example of stone construction in town. The house was built between 1830 and 1840, and is transitional Federal/Greek Revival in style. It has four tall chimneys (two on each slope of the roof), granite lintels over the windows, and granite quoins at the corners which together, create an elegant composition. Tragically, James Paul died unexpectedly when removing the staging on this house, he was never able to live in this beauty. The home was occupied by two reverends of a local church.

Captain Simpson House – Parsonage // 1840

In 1840, a recently married Andrew Lapish Simpson built this home for his new bride, Lydia Kelly. The house blends Federal and Greek Revival architectural styles and has a perfect door surround that stopped me in my tracks. The L-shaped home is attached to a barn which was originally an older home. Andrew was a sea captain who took months long excursions, leaving his wife to maintain the home on her own. He died in 1870, and was survived by his widow for 25 years. The family home was gifted to the local Congregational church in which she was an active member. It was occupied as the church’s parsonage until the 1950s. It was an office until a couple years ago and it is now a single-family home.

“Red Tower” // 1780 & 1895

One of the most interesting homes in Durham, NH, sits right on Main Street, and while lacks much of its original grandeur, the house still has a story to tell. When mining engineer, Hamilton Smith met and married Alice Congreve while working in London, the couple envisioned and planned for a sprawling gentleman’s farm in New England to retire to. In 1895, the couple purchased the 1780 Rev. Blydenburgh home on Main Street, a large Federal style mansion. When Alice and Hamilton retired to the Red Tower in 1895, they set about renovating the estate into a jewel of the Gilded Age. They added a three-story tower to the rear of the home, large additions and Colonial Revival alterations, and they purchased large land holdings behind the house for a working farm. On the farmland, they built a carriage house, creamery, and men’s and women’s accessory buildings (a billiards building and tea house, respectively). Hamilton could only enjoy the home for a couple years until his death in 1900. His widow created the family cemetery at the farthest extent of the property and built the stunning Smith Memorial Chapel (last post). In the 1940s, much of the property was sold off and developed for a residential neighborhood for UNH faculty, and the Red Tower mansion was converted to an apartment house for students.

Ebenezer Smith House // c.1785

This home in Durham, NH, was built around 1785 and is among the oldest downtown. The late-Georgian/Federal house was constructed for Ebenezer Smith the year of his marriage to wife, Mehitable. When Ebenezer was 17 years old, he pursued the study of law in the office of John Sullivan, afterwards General John Sullivan, until the breaking out of the war when he followed his mentor to the field, becoming and remaining his aide-de-camp until peace was declared. Upon the conclusion of the war, he resumed his studies, was admitted to the bar and subsequently became a prominent jurist and attorney in Durham. General Lafayette stayed in the Smith house upon his tour of the United States in 1824-5.

Ballard-Hoitt House // 1790

In 1790, Joshua Ballard built this house on a prominent triangular lot on the turnpike connecting New Hampshire’s largest city at the time (Portsmouth) with the future Capital (Concord). The main door is flanked by fluted pilasters and surmounted by a pediment with dentils and strong proportions. The old tavern was purchased in the late 1800s by Charles A. Hoitt, a granger and selectman in town. As with many old homes on Main Street in town, the house was converted to apartments with a small commercial space at the ground floor.

Captain Richardson Tavern // c.1785

The Richardson Tavern on Main Street in Durham, NH, was built shortly after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War by Captain Joseph Richardson (1756-1824). The tavern was sited on a rise, providing views of Mill Pond in the distance. The tavern provided meeting spaces for town officials and juries to meet and discuss important city matters before the construction of the first purpose-built town hall just a block away. The Federal style tavern was “modernized” in the early 20th century with Colonial Revival dormers and eventually was converted into apartments as the ever-growing University of New Hampshire brought more students into town.