The oldest portion of this beautiful brick farmhouse in Cavendish, Vermont, its rear ell which was built about 1796 by Aaron Parker Jr., the son of one of Cavendish’s early settlers. Aaron married Susan Sherman in 1796 and likely had a home built here where they could start their family. Sometime in the 1810s, Aaron built the brick main block to which it is now attached. The blind arches and simple transom window above the door were common in brick Federal homes in this region at the time. The Federal style really took off in popularity in New England after the 1797 architectural pattern book, “Country Builder’s Assistant” by Asher Benjamin, who was a resident of nearby Windsor, VT. This home remained in the Parker family until the Great Depression, when it was sold off. The home remains extremely well preserved and is a great example of a rural Federal-period farmhouse in Central Vermont.
Oliver Tarbell House // c.1830
Oliver Tarbell and his wife Sandy erected this stunning brick Federal farmhouse in Cavendish around 1830 for their ever-growing family. The couple had thirteen children who survived infancy, so even this large home was likely stuffed to the gills and hectic! Oliver appears to have built the home, incorporating his ancestral home onto the rear of this brick house, as a rear ell. The house recently sold in 2022, so of course I had to gawk at the amazing interior photos…
Allen Fletcher Mansion // 1906
As Cavendish and other rural towns of Vermont became summer destinations for the rich of the urban centers of the northeast, large estates began to sprout up, replacing old family homesteads. Allen Miller Fletcher was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the grandnephew of Josiah Fletcher, one of the original settlers of Cavendish in September 1853. He was the son of a successful banker and became a banker himself, building homes in Indianapolis and New York City. In 1881, he built a summer home in his ancestral home of Cavendish, taking the train up to relax and breathe in the clean air. While living most of the year in New York, Fletcher became involved in Vermont politics, winning the Republican nomination to serve in both the Vermont House of Representatives and the Vermont Senate in the early 1900s. During his time as a Vermont state senator, Fletcher commissioned architect Samuel Francis Page of the Boston-based firm, Fehmer and Page, to bring his vision to life. Page used English Cotswold-style architecture for his inspiration, and when completed in 1906, the home was the first in Vermont to be fully wired for electricity and equipped with an elevator! Fletcher also hired Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to design the landscaping on the property. Fletcher would spend the rest of his life at his country mansion, going on to work as the Governor of Vermont from 1912 to 1915. Today, Fletcher’s beautiful mansion now lives as a magnificent holiday retreat known as the Castle Hill Resort & Spa.
Leonard Proctor House // c.1810
In the early 1780s, Leonard Proctor and Salmon Dutton and their families, moved from Massachusetts and settled in present-day Cavendish, Vermont and gave their names to the two major settlements on the Black River, Proctorsville and Duttonsville. Leonard Proctor was born in Westford, Massachusetts and fought in the Revolutionary War at a young age. He settled in Cavendish in 1782 and built a modest house/tavern, and underwent developing the village in his name, Proctorsville. By the early 1800s, Leonard was a highly esteemed member of town and had the funds to erect the finest Federal style manse in the village, to showcase the stability and wealth of his community. The home exhibits scalloped cornice moldings and the carved wood flowering vines springing from urns on the upper pilasters that have a folk/Federal quality that stands out as a very unique design detail. Carved Adamesque bell flowers that flank the door suggest Asher Benjamin’s Windsor influence. Elliptical sunbursts above the pilasters, elaborate guilloche friezes, and the broad semielliptical attic light have a later Federal character. It is possible that Leonard had this house built, and it was “modernized” by one of his heirs.
Brook Farm // 1894
By the late 1800s, Vermonters had left the state in high numbers as agriculture began to sharply decline as a career path in New England, with many leaving to urban centers and manufacturing towns. Vermont politicians responded to the de-population with initiatives to encourage the redevelopment of existing farms by seasonal residents with money who could summer there to escape the hustle and bustle (and dirty air) of urban centers. Towns threw events like “Old Home” days with activities to entice affluent family members to return home and bring their money with them. After 1850, railroads made it easier for urban families to trade the heat and congestion of the city for the beauty of Vermont. One of these wealthy expats was James Hale Bates (1826-1901), who was born in Cavendish, Vermont, and moved to New York and worked in advertising, operating a major firm there. He retired in 1895, after the completion of Brook Farm one year earlier, a gentleman’s farm that he had built in his ancestral hometown of Cavendish. This massive Colonial Revival mansion was the centerpiece among sweeping fields and orchards contained by rustic stone walls. It is believed that Vermont architect, Clinton Smith, designed the estate house and many of the out-buildings on the site from the carriage and cow barns to the caretaker’s house and creamery. In recent years, the estate was operated as a vineyard, but it appears to be closed now. This is one of the hidden gems of Vermont and one of the most stunning Colonial Revival homes I have seen!
Atherton Farmstead // c.1840
This beautiful farmhouse in Cavendish, Vermont is located along a winding dirt road and has ties to one of the town’s original family’s. A home was built here in 1785 and changed hands numerously over the first few decades of its existence. The farmhouse that was built also served as a tavern for travellers along the newly laid out Wethersfield Turnpike. It is possible that the cheap land and rural character of the new town was appealing to some, but reality away from true commerce may have made many sell the farm after a few years, which could explain why the property was bought and sold so often early on. The property was purchased by Jonathan Atherton, a Revolutionary War veteran, farmer, surveyor and lawyer, who acquired large landholdings in Cavendish. In 1821, Jonathan Atherton was sued in court by his neighbor, Jedediah Tuttle for beating Tuttle’s wife Lydia. In order to finance the bonds, Atherton mortgaged all his real estate in Cavendish to his brother Joseph, and Elihu Ives, Jonathan Atherton Jr.’s father-in-law. Atherton St. lost the case and had to pay a fine. The property was eventually inherited by Stedman Atherton, the youngest son of Jonathan, who seems to have demolished the old homestead and constructed the present home on the site. The original dwelling was also the childhood home of Henry B. Atherton, a staunch abolitionist and soldier in the American Civil War, who later served as a lawyer and state legislator for New Hampshire, and his sister Eliza (Atherton) Aiken, a Civil War nurse who has been referred to as America’s own “Florence Nightingale”. The old Atherton farmstead was recently renovated.
Glimmerstone // 1845
What a treat it was to stumble upon one of the most beautiful homes in Vermont, and all the best houses have names! Glimmerstone is located in the small town of Cavendish, and is possibly the finest Snecked Ashlar constructed home in the state. The house was built in 1845 for Henry Fullerton, manager of the Black River Manufacturing and Canal Company mill in Cavendish. The stone used to build the house was quarried less than a mile away, and hauled to the site. The construction style consists of stone facing on either side of rubble fill, with slabs and snecks sometimes laid across the fill to provide strength, a method brought to the region by Scottish immigrant masons. The house’s design is by a local carpenter, Lucius Paige, and is based on designs published by Andrew Jackson Downing, who depicted many Gothic style designs in pattern books which were built all over the country. The house has had a number of owners after Mr. Fullerton died. During the prohibition era, Art Hadley, who would later become extremely wealthy as the inventor of the expansion bracelet, used the home as part of a rum running operation. Glimmerstone was purchased in 2010 by the current owners, who underwent a massive restoration of the home, converting it into a bed and breakfast, allowing the public to experience the property as well.
Joshua Parker Farmhouse // 1850
This house in Cavendish was constructed in 1850 by Joshua Parker and is an outstanding example of a gothicized snecked ashlar house. The house is in the Cape form and largely exhibits a more traditional cottage layout, but with the steep gable dormer, giving the home a distinctive Gothic feeling. The 1850 home replaced a late 18th century farmhouse, but in the iconic snecked ashlar construction. The farm grew over the subsequent decades, including a c.1900 snecked ashlar barn (not pictured), which is probably the last building of “Snecked Ashlar” construction erected in the State of Vermont.
James Spaulding House // c.1840
This Greek Revival cape house in Cavendish, Vermont sits along a rural road and is one of the few dozen examples of Snecked Ashlar buildings in this part of the state. In the early 1830s, skilled masons from Scotland settled in central Vermont to work on building projects there. A number of these builders, mainly from the Aberdeen area, were experienced in snecked ashlar construction, in which plates of stone are affixed to a rubblestone wall. This home was built for James Spaulding, and remained in the Spaulding family for generations, lovingly maintained as an excellent example of a Snecked Ashlar home in Vermont.
Cavendish Universalist Church // 1844
Oh Snecked Ashlar… the iconic vernacular building style that was seen in south-central Vermont in the middle of the 19th century. The Cavendish Universalist Church was built in 1844 by Scottish immigrant stonemasons who had moved to the area ten years earlier from Canada. These builders constructed houses, schools, and churches in Windsor County and nearby, using traditional building techniques they likely brought to North America from Scotland. This church in Cavendish was built under the leadership of Rev. Warren Skinner, an avid abolitionist and was part of the “above ground” railroad in Vermont. The church was decommissioned in the 1960’s from a shrinking congregation and was leased to the Cavendish Historical Society in the 1970’s. While work has been done to maintain the building, it is in need of repairs. In recent years, the Universalist Unitarian Convention of Vermont and Quebec has agreed to deed the building to the town of Cavendish on May 11, 2013. The structure has been restored, and apparently houses exhibition space inside.