United Methodist Church of Nantucket // 1823

The United Methodist Church of Nantucket stands prominently at the top of Main Street on land was obtained from Peleg Mitchell in 1822. Construction on the site began in 1823 with the massive structure originally built with a pyramidal hip roof of enormous timbers brought to the island on whaling vessels. In 1840, the roofline was amended with the present gable roof, constructed over the original hip roof. The church is a highly significant example of Greek Revival architecture on the island and a more rare example of the temple-front form seen there. Deferred maintenance threatened the building to the point that in 1995, the building was listed as one of the most endangered buildings in Massachusetts. A restoration was undertaken funded by private contributions and the Massachusetts Preservation Project Fund, preserving the building for another 200 years.

George C. Gardner House // c.1834

On Nantucket, even the little houses can pack an architectural punch! This is the George C. Gardner House. The house on Main Street was built in 1834 for sea captain George Gardner, a descendant of Richard Gardner, an early white settler on the island (who’s house stands nextdoor). The house exhibits a five bay facade with Ionic columned portico and balustrade at the roof and widow’s walk. By the end of the 20th century, the house was sitting, decaying after years of deferred maintenance caused by a bitter divorce dispute between the owners. From this, locals told stories about the house being haunted, including stories of a Chinese servant of the Gardner family who was hanged after becoming infatuated with one of George Gardner’s daughters. The body is rumored to have been buried on the grounds of the house. There is not much to substantiate these stories of local lore, but they are always interesting to hear. A truth is that the home was purchased in the early 2000s for millions and restored faithfully before being sold for shy of $10 Million. Now that is really scary!

First Congregational Church of Nantucket // 1834

The First Congregational Church is one of Nantucket’s most prominent historic landmarks and is prominently located on a hilltop, being one of the first buildings you’ll see when arriving to the island by ferry. Constructed from a design by Samuel Waldron, a Boston housewright, the present church blends the Greek and Gothic Revival styles elegantly into a single composition. The interior of the church was painted with architectural trompe l’oeil paintings by E.H. Whitaker of Boston in 1852. The steeple was removed in 1849, likely from engineering concerns and high winds on the island. In 1968, the steeple was reconstructed from historic drawings by Philip Graves of Ames & Graves.

Ware Center Meeting House // 1799

Ware was settled in the 1717 and incorporated in 1775. Its town center was laid out in 1760, on land belonging to one of its early large landowners. The first colonial meeting house was built in that year, near the geographic center of the town, and the road network developed around access to this area from the corners of the town. The Ware Center Meeting House was built in 1799 to replace a previous structure. The Meeting House has served as the first town meeting hall, the parish home of the First Church of Ware and the first school. As the town’s population boomed in the eastern part of town when factories and mills were built along the Ware River. To compete with the growing industrial village, the Ware Center residents sought to “keep up with the Jones'” and renovated the meeting house in 1843 in the Greek Revival style. However the growth of Ware had by passed the old Ware Center and population and in 1847, a new Town Hall was completed on the Main St. closer to industry and the new population center. The building remained as a church, but in 1928, the church ceased having winter services due to the reduced membership, and from that time on services have been held sporadically. The building remains a significant piece of Ware’s history from a sleepy rural town to industrial powerhouse.

Barrows – Wilson House // 1852

This building, the largest building in East Dorset Village, was constructed and opened as a hotel in 1852 and has ties to one of the most influential organizations in America. Entrepreneur Ira Cochran built this hotel the same year the railroad came to town, capitalizing on the influx of business and new laborers travelling to the once sleepy town now dominated by the marble industry. By the end of the 19th century, the building was owned by the Griffith family. On November 26, 1895, William (Bill) Griffith Wilson was born here, behind the bar of the hotel during a snowstorm. As a child, he moved away until the age of 11, when he returned to East Dorset to live with their maternal grandparents, the Griffiths. Bill would later go on to become the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The building would eventually sit vacant and dilapidated until Albert “Ozzie” Lepper, Wilson’s friend, purchased the property in the late 1980s and made it into a living memorial to Bill Wilson, renovating The Wilson House with the help of volunteers’ time and talent. The hotel reopened in 1998 under the historic name. The Wilson House was later established as a nonprofit organization to ensure that Wilson’s memory, spirit, and purpose in life continues on for decades to come. Today, visitors come to the Wilson House from all corners of the world. Many of them are in recovery themselves, while others are history buffs who simply want to visit the homestead, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

The Cheese Factory // c.1850

This absolutely charming vernacular Greek Revival home was built in the mid-19th century in East Dorset Village. By the end of the 19th century, it was converted to a cheese factory a model in adaptive reuse and historic preservation. In the late 1930s, as Dorset became a popular summer colony for artists and upper-middle class residents of New York and the Mid-Atlantic, the cheese factory was purchased by artists Norman and Silvia Wright. The artists relocated the small building to the Kent Hill neighborhood of town, restoring the home and adding wings onto it. I also love the chocolate color paint!

Old Dorset Post Office // 1845

Yet another of the buildings moved to Dorset Village by Charles A. Wade, this amazing classical building stopped me in my tracks when walking along the town’s marble sidewalks. It turns out this little structure was constructed in Enfield, Massachusetts, a town that was flooded in the 1930s for the filling of the Quabbin Reservoir. The building was likely built in the 1840s as a Congregational chapel, and upon hearing about the demise of the town, Wade drove to Enfield and brought back this charming little chapel for his hometown of Dorset. Upon its arrival to Vermont in 1938, the Greek Revival building was used as the town’s post office until a larger building was constructed in the 1960s. This building was converted to a real estate office and is now home to Flower Brook Pottery.

Laura Wade House // 1935

This charming cottage in Dorset is one of four houses in the village which were moved here by Charles Wade in the 1920s and ‘30s. Wade was born in Dorset and saw declining population with the marble industry failing. He sought to re-invigorate the town by advertising its natural beauty and brought in homes and buildings from nearby to fill the “missing teeth” (including the building that presently houses the Dorset Historical Society). Assembled from parts of various Enfield, Massachusetts buildings moved to Dorset this 1½-story, wood-framed, clapboard house stands on a marble ashlar foundation and is said to have been built by Wade for his daughter, Laura Wade.

Houghton House – Dorset Historical Society // c.1830

One of my favorite houses in Dorset I saw was this beautiful cottage, which is now home to the Dorset Historical Society. The home was originally built around 1830, but not in Dorset… It was built in Hebron, New York, two towns away. The house was moved to Dorset in 1928 by Charles Wade, a resident for Agnes Houghton. Wade was born in town and worked his whole life to maintain the village’s charm even through economically difficult times. He salvaged historic buildings all over the region and brought them to Dorset, helping to revitalize the town. New York City artist Elsa Bley used the house as her residence, studio, and art school from about 1950 until 1990, when she bequeathed the building to the Dorset Historical Society, which has been located here since 1991.

Gilbert Sykes House // c.1850

This stunning Greek Revival house in Dorset Village was built around 1850 and was long the home of Gilbert Mortier Sykes (1834-1920). Gilbert Sykes operated a general store in Dorset and held various public offices in town and later in the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate. The house has fully embellished entrance with paneled pilasters carrying an entablature and an amazing triangular window with diamond panes in the gable.