There is something about red barns that just scream Vermont! Located in Richmond, the West Monitor Barn is one of the best-preserved large barns in the region. The West Monitor Barn was constructed in 1903 by Uziel Whitcomb. At the turn of the century when agriculture represented 70% of the American economy, the Whitcomb’s operation was one of the most successful; at a time when the average farm had eight cows, the Whitcomb’s had hundreds. Hay and grain were planted and harvested by hand and horse. More than 175 cows were milked three times a day by hand inside of this barn. Milk went from cow to pail, to can, and then was driven to market by horse and wagon. It was an operation that represented the epitome of hand-powered farming, and was an operation admired nationwide. The farm was so large and eventually shut down decades later, leaving the iconic barn to decay. A new owner purchased the structure and began a massive restoration project which took years. About 40% of the timbers in the reconstructed barn are original and the rest have been carefully and accurately re-fabricated. In addition, the stone foundation and walls are all original stone – quarried by hand from the back fields. The East Monitor Barn also on the property is in fair condition and could use the same updates. The barn is now commonly used as a venue for weddings and other special events!
Jonesville Academy // c.1868
Jonesville Academy, located in the village of Jonesville in Richmond, Vermont is a large wooden school building constructed in the Italianate style around 1868 . It is remarkable for its high-style in a rural setting with its engaged center entrance tower, and ornate Italianate bracketing. Jonesville Academy was one of nine schools in the town of Richmond, and operated as a high school for this village. The village of Jonesville also included a railroad station, hotel , hardware stores, several mills, and homes. The village dwindled in the mid-20th century after WWII, and the town consolidated schools as buses and personal automobile made traveling to school much easier. The town deaccessioned the school and it was acquired by a private citizen for use as a personal residence, a use it retains to this day. Oh to see the interior of this baby!
Orson Goodrich House // c.1850
Gothic Revival homes in New England are not as common as Greek Revival or Italianate homes built in the mid-19th century, so when I find one, I make sure to snap a picture. This home in Richmond, Vermont was built around 1850 for Orson Goodrich (1808-1877), likely after the death of his first wife, Ann in 1849. Goodrich was a farmer who had a large property off the Main Street, which likely ran all the way to the Winooski River. The house is an excellent example of Carpenter Gothic, a wooden Gothic Revival home which has decorative bargeboards at the roof (which look like icicles in the snow), pierced wooden columns at the porch, and a lancet window at the second floor gable end. The home was such a statement piece, that the home was one of a handful of buildings portrayed in the 1857 Map of Chittenden County, Vermont. After Orson Goodrich died in 1877 (outliving his second wife), with no children living to adulthood, the property was sold off and subdivided for new housing in the 1880s. Today, the home retains much of its original detailing, but could use some sprucing up.
Richmond Congregational Church // 1903
The Richmond Congregational Church, built in 1903, is one of the most prominent architectural landmarks in town. The church desired a new place of worship by the end of the 19th century, to replace the outdated 1850s building. Significantly, the building of this 1903 structure corresponded with a period of prosperity for Richmond, generated in large part by the advent of the Richmond Underwear Company in 1900. The Company had come to Richmond at the behest of local officials and business leaders, who provided the company with financial incentives in the hope of fostering economic opportunity, which it did. Additional housing for workers was built on the former church land, and money from the sale helped the congregation get enough funding to hire an architect to furnish plans. The Richmond Congregational Church was designed by one of the few professionally-trained architects working in Vermont at the turn of the century. Walter R. B. Willcox (1869-1947) was a Burlington, Vermont, native who was trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. He eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest and continued his career there.
Richmond Universalist Church-Library // 1897
Have you ever heard of a church becoming a library? Well you have now! Built in 1897 for the Univeralist Unitarian Congregation in Richmond, Vermont, this imposing building stands as a rare high-style Gothic church design for such a small town. The congregation occupied the building until the dwindling population in town made it no longer feasible to keep the doors open, closing in 1956. When the congregation disbanded, the building was sold to a Richmond resident who then offered the property to the Richmond School District, which had its large school next door. Voters accepted the gift at Town Meeting and passed a bond to convert the building into a cafeteria and gymnasium for the school next door. In the mid-1980s, with a new school in town, the school building was abandoned and converted to the Town Hall. The gymnasium and cafeteria in the former church was no longer needed, and some in town proposed to demolish it to build a new, modern library. Preservationists petitioned to save the building, acquiring funds to restore the exterior and convert it to a library. They won. The library operates here to this day as a unique place for residents young and old to read and learn in an architectural treasure.
Goodwin House // 1902
This house in the small town of Richmond, Vermont was built in 1902 for I. H. Goodwin, a partner of the Richmond Underwear Company, which started in 1900. Goodwin and his partner J. S. Baker were brought from Peekskill, New York to the small town of Richmond to create and manage a new industry to revitalize the town, a program funded by the citizens. The home Goodwin had built for his family is a great blending of Shingle and Arts and Crafts styles, common in the early 20th century. The house was unique in that it was the first in town to feature electricity, though taken from the factory’s generator next door.
Old Round Church // 1813
The Old Round Church in Richmond, Vermont, was built in 1812-13 under the direction of local craftsman William Rhodes to be the Town Meeting Hall and place of worship for members of five denominations in the area. While the church is known as the Old Round Church, it is actually a sixteen-sided polygon, but I think it is safe to say the Old Round Church sounds better than the Old Hexadecagon Church… Traditionally, 18th- and 19th-century meetinghouses were rectangular in form and many followed popular builders’ pattern books which standardized the rectangular Wren-Gibbs architectural type. Experimentation was generally limited to decorative detail, steeples, porches or the orientation of the entrance, and not to the form, which is why this building is so unique. Within a few decades of the church’s opening, the founding denominations began to move out, some of them to build worship places elsewhere in town. In 1880, the Old Round Church reverted to the Town of Richmond and continued in use as the town’s meeting hall until 1973, at which time safety concerns forced its closure to the public.The Richmond Historical Society was formed in 1973, shortly before the church had to be closed and in 1976, the town deeded the church to the society, who then gathered funds to restore the building, protecting it from a much darker future. The Old Round Church remains one of the most unique architectural designs in Vermont and is always a treat to drive by in all seasons!
Richmond Underwear Company // 1900
The Richmond Underwear Company in Richmond, Vermont was formed in 1900, in response to a drive by the citizens of town to attract a business to the town by means of financial inducement. In 1900, residents here raised several thousand dollars to entice two businessmen from Upstate New York to establish a plant for the
manufacture of women’s and children’s muslin underwear. The factory was built in a former apple orchard just north of the main strip in seven months and soon after, became one of Vermont’s largest manufacturers of underwear, employing 160 people at its peak (mostly women). This new company resulted in an influx of workers, and a building boom in the town, and it became the first building in the town to be fitted with steam heat and electrical power. After WWII, the factory was occupied by Gilman Paper Co., who manufactured paper to use for the backing of rugs, but later became know as Cellucord. After that, the building was occupied by various companies and craftsmen until it was restored in the early 1990s and now houses offices.
Richmond School // 1907
This two-story brick schoolhouse was built in 1907 for town growing along the river in Richmond, Vermont. The town’s history goes back thousands of years ago when indigenous people lived here during the Archaic period from 9,500 to 3,000 years ago. The Winooski River, which runs through the town today, was also a common highway for the Abenaki Tribe after 1,000 A.D. between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River. European settlement of Vermont did not begin until the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War in 1763. Richmond was eventually granted township status in 1794 when the Vermont Legislature combined parts of nearby towns to form the new town. The town grew mostly as an agricultural village until the 19th century, when the Winooski River was harnessed for power. The town grew over the years, surviving large town center fires and floods over the years. As was the case with many small Vermont towns, Richmond’s population began a steady decline during the Great Depression. The trend was reversed in the 1960s as a result of new regional employers coming into the area. The school here was outgrown and built a new school in town in that period of growth and converted to the Town Hall, showing a great example of adaptive reuse in small town New England.