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!
Musser House // 1906
The former Dorset Methodist Church sat on this property from about 1840 to 1900 until they merged with the United Church of Dorset. A Philadelphia physician, Dr. John Herr Musser (1856-1912), built this vacation home in 1906, and passed away just six years later. His widow Agnes Harper Musser (1856-1941) and their children continued to vacation here until after WWII. The home is a rare example of the Shingle style in Dorset and was painted the bright white to fit in with the more traditional New England village vibe, but it would be better-suited with a period- and style-appropriate paint scheme. The home is now offered for short-term/vacation rentals.
The Dorset Inn // 1796
One of the oldest continually operating inns in America, the Dorset Inn remains a visual and historical anchor to the charming little village of Dorset, Vermont. The Federal period building was historically known as the Hodges Hotel before becoming The Washington Hotel in about 1858 (the porch was added at that time to make it resemble George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home). The name became the Dorset Inn in 1904. As constructed in 1796, the main block possessed a five-bay facade arranged symmetrically around a central entrance; an 1858 extension added two bays on the west, when it was modernized. Though the inn has seen changes and modernizations over time, the building has such a historic character that brings in people from all over the country to experience the best of Dorset every year.
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.
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.
‘Maplebourn’ – Dorset Colony House // 1885 & 1925
Colonial Revival perfection! This building on the Dorset Town Green was originally constructed around 1885 for Allan Bourn, the purchasing agent of the New York Central Railroad. When Bourn was told by a trusted associate that a railroad stop was going to be built near Dorset, he made the decision to acquire eight acres of pristine land just west of the Dorset Green on Church Street. Bourn, a resident of Westchester, New York, decided to build a vacation home there for his family. The house was named “Maplebourn,” after a large maple tree on the property. Annie Bourn Sheldon, Allan’s daughter, inherited his property after his death in 1925. She and her husband then added two large additional wings onto the house, just at the time that Dorset’s local theater scene was beginning to take-off. After Annie’s husband Harry died in 1942, she began to rent out rooms of her home to visiting actors to the nearby Dorset Playhouse (last post). Actor and playwright, John Nassivera purchased the property and renamed it the Dorset Colony House, converting it to a residency hall. The building has since been purchased by Adele and Herman Raspé, who lovingly have maintained and enhanced the historically and architecturally significant property.
Dorset Congregational Church // 1909
Arguably the most high-style building in the quaint village of Dorset, Vermont is the Congregational Church, which appropriately sits on Church Street. The original congregational church in Dorset was located in nearby Maple Hill Cemetery. When the wood structure burned in 1832, an new wooden church was built on this site. The second wooden building burned in 1907, and then this church was built, but of fireproof construction. Jordan Greene, an architect from New York, designed this Neo Gothic Revival style in the historic district. The church was constructed by the contracting firm of O. W. Norcross, partner in the Norcross-West Marble Company, which donated the building stone from its South Dorset quarry. The design is dominated by a massive square central tower that ascends its facade and is capped by pinnacles. Behind the tower, the gable-roofed church is built of rough-faced Dorset marble laid in patterned coursed ashlar and trimmed with dressed stone. How many other marble churches can you think of?
Annie Sheldon House // 1909
Even with a declining marble industry by the turn of the 20th century, Dorset, Vermont was seen as a beautiful retreat from city life, and it attracted well-to-do middle-class families to escape to the town for parts of the year. One of those families was head by Harry Waters Sheldon (1869-1942) and Annie C. Bourn Sheldon (1875-1958) who lived in Yonkers, N.Y. with their four children. The family lived in this home as a cottage retreat in 1909 and constructed the only Craftsman bungalow in the village of Dorset. The bungalow was later altered and the porches were enclosed, but it was restored in the past few years!
Sheldon House – 3 Pears Gallery // c.1830
This charming vernacular property in Dorset Village was built around 1830 as a one-story cape house. By the early 20th century, the modest home was enlarged with a second story and an extra bay, all in the Colonial Revival style, mixing the functional or minimally detailed historic building with a little oomph. The addition of a doorway portico and the randomly placed windows on the facade add to the charm. The renovation was completed by owner Bernis Sheldon (1866-1941). After Sheldon’s death, the building became home to the Dorset telephone exchange, who occupied part of the building. The building is now home to the 3 Pears Gallery, who have done a FANTASTIC job mainating and highlighting this beautiful building on the Green!