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.
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.
The town of Chester, Vermont, was originally chartered by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth as Flamstead, in 1754. The terms of the charter were not met and the town was re-chartered as New Flamstead in 1761. In 1766, a patent was issued by New York that changed the name of the town to Chester, after George Augustus Frederick, the Earl of Chester and the eldest son of King George III. Vermont in the 18th century was contested land claimed by both New Hampshire and New York, unsettled until the colonists in the area decided to petition for their own statehood. The town of Chester voted to keep their name. The town grew with two distinct villages, Chester Village and Stone Village. Both villages were very distinct in terms of politics, religious affiliations, and architecture. When the railroad cut through the town, the route passed between Chester’s North and South villages, and Chester Depot village emerged right in the middle. The establishment of a third village by the railroad depot, offered neutral ground on which to erect a town hall, as before 1884, town meetings were held alternately each year in the two opposing villages. The large town hall building in Depot Village is a late example of Greek Revival and Italianate design.
The First Universalist Parish of Chester, also known as the Stone Church, was built in 1845 and originally occupied only the top floor. At the time, the basement, with its own entrance, was occupied by town government offices. The users practiced their own style of the separation of church and state however, as there was no interior staircase to join the two.
The church, along with the nearby homes and school, were built by Scottish masons who developed the largest enclave of “snecked ashlar” buildings in the country. The church can be classified as a vernacular mixture of Greek and Gothic Revival. The building features a gable-end form with a classical wood cornice and frieze with partial cornice return, as a nod to the Greek Revival style. Additionally, a square steeple tower atop the gable roof is capped by a balustrade and spires, an acknowledgment to the Gothic style.
This unique vernacular example of the Second Empire architectural style in Chester stands on the side of Vermont Route 103. Records state that the fire station was constructed in 1873 with the two towers (bell and hose) built within a decade after. The station’s name, “Yosemite” is a Miwak Indian tribe name meaning Grizzly Bear. “Yosemite” was also the name on the engine purchased for Chester’s Fire House. The name was quickly adopted by the men for their volunteer Fire Department.
As of early 2018, it appears the Chester Historical Society maintained the building, but gifted the building to the town as it could not afford maintenance and insurance on the building. There have been calls from the public to move the station away from the road to be incorporated into a fire museum. RT-103 was once a dirt road only traversed by horse, now, thousands of cars pass by the structure, narrowly avoiding it.
Arguably the best example of Queen Anne architecture in Chester, Vermont is the Pollard House at 137 Main Street. William Pollard was a co-owner of a thriving shirt-waist factory who ran the company with his brother (who lived in the house nextdoor). The Queen Anne home features a prominent octagonal tower, intricate stickwork, and asymmetrical massing with porches. The home has been painted colors to accentuate the many details of the home which appears as a Vermont version of a “Painted Lady”.
The Fullerton Inn exemplifies the prevalence of large hotels in smaller New England towns. By the middle of the 19th century, the railroad had brought both a great increase in travel and the accompanying need for better accommodations in Chester. In 1862, a hotel was constructed on the site fronting the town Green hat would remain the location of the village’s icon, the Fullerton Inn. The Ingraham House (as it was originally called) was a 3-story, hip-roofed building in the Italianate style. The hotel on the Green became the node around which the village’s previously scattered commercial enterprises thereafter coalesced. The Ingraham House later burned to the ground in a massive fire in 1888.
The industrialization and development of the village boomed, and townsfolk rallied for a new hotel to bring in visitors. By 1890, a new hotel was constructed. Named “The Fullerton” after Nathaniel Fullerton, who largely underwrote its cost, the new 3-story, 30-room hotel presented to the Green an eclectic design distinguished mostly by a broad veranda with second-story balcony and a four-story, pyramidal-peaked corner tower. The Queen Anne Victorian hotel also succumbed to the same fate as the original, as a fire destroyed the building in 1920.
Within a year, however, a new Fullerton Inn arose on the site. The 35-room replacement emulates its predecessor in scale and the fullwidth veranda; its style, however, corresponds to a gambrel roofed version of the Colonial Revival shared by several contemporary houses in the village. A novel feature of the second Fullerton dominates its lobby: a rubble fireplace that incorporates 27 varieties of stone found in the vicinity in Chester.