In 1833, Jedediah H. Harris, who had run a general store in Strafford village since 1803, commissioned a local contractor to build a new brick and granite store. Harris and his then-partner, Justin Morrill, opened the store in late fall 1834, selling provisions to locals and visitors to the small town. Morrill would later go on to construct a stunning Gothic home nearby and become a leading U.S. Senator. For more than one hundred years the store passed through a succession of owners, until C. William Berghorn Jr. closed it in 1951 to make it his residence. The building has since been converted to the local post office branch, with a residential unit likely above.
Fall in Vermont
Strafford Town House // 1799
Perched atop a hill at the edge of the town common in Strafford, Vermont, the Strafford Town House epitomizes rural New England charm. The town house was constructed in 1799 by local carpenters as a place to do public business and served for a brief period in the early days as a meeting house for various local congregations. The building is one of the oldest meeting houses in Vermont and was one of the first meeting houses to put the entrance at the tower-end and the pulpit at the other end of the building. The change from a side-entrance orientation reflected a time when New Englanders were clearly deciding to separate their political business from their ecclesiastical affairs.
Pomfret Town Hall // 1845
The quaint town of Pomfret, Vermont sees flocks of “leaf-peepers” and Instagrammers every Fall who are in awe of the natural scenery and historic farms seen there. The town was first settled in 1770 when Bartholomew Durkee travelled from Pomfret, Connecticut, along with his family and friends and named the town “New Pomfret” at first to show their roots in Connecticut. The tiny town grew to its peak population in 1830 at just under 1,900 residents, declining steadily over time to roughly 900 today, greatly adding to the rural character of the town.
In Pomfret Center, the local Congregationalists sought a new place of worship and had this structure constructed as their church in 1845. Local builder Eli Buch constructed the Greek Revival edifice with its projecting portico, doric columns, and corner pilasters. As nearby Woodstock Vermont grew, many families moved there and the church sold their building to the Town of Pomfret in 1872 and the building has since been used as Pomfret’s Town Hall.
Burton Hall, Thetford Academy // 1845
Burton Hall was constructed in 1845 as a boy’s dormitory for Thetford Academy on a lot given by Orange Heaton (who lived nearby), just north of the original Academy Building. The structure was named Burton Hall in memory of Asa Burton, one of the Academy’s founders. The structure was sold by the Academy by about 1860 for $200, to a J.H. Huntington, who moved it across the street to its present site to replace his house which had burned the year prior. In the late 1930’s, Dwight Goddard, the owner of the home at the time, gifted the building back to the Academy since which time it has been known as Goddard Hall.
Fun Fact: Buildings historically were much more likely to be moved than demolished as the cost of building materials was much more than labor. Today, the opposite is true so many developers and owners prefer to demolish.
First Congregational Church, Thetford // 1785 & 1830
Attempts were made to organize the Congregational Church in Thetford, Vermont as early as 1771, making this congregation among the five earliest in the state. As was typical of the day, the meetinghouse was intended to serve both public and religious functions, before the separation of church and state. Following the customary dispute over the location of the meetinghouse in town, the structure was erected on the Town Common, marking the beginning of the village of Thetford Hill. Construction began on the meetinghouse in 1785, being completed within a couple years. Sometime between 1807 and 1812, the Congregational Church ceased to be supported by taxes as the separation of church and state resulted in the sale of the meetinghouse and its subsequent move in 1830, from the town-owned common to its present site just north of it. In 1830, the pavilion, tower, and pilasters were added to give the church a Greek Revival flair. The church is reportedly the oldest meetinghouse in the state still in continuous service.