One of the best examples of a temple-front Greek Revival house in the state of Vermont is this stunner, found in Newfane Village. The house was constructed in 1832 for General Pardon T. Kimball (1797-1873), a cattle-broker, general of the state militia and later, a state senator. Kimball made a name for himself locally as he donated much of his money to social causes, from a local almshouse to other charitable organizations. Kimball died in 1873 after falling from his carriage. The house was converted to an inn in 1965-6 and has since been known as the Four Columns Inn, so-named after the four monumental Ionic columns that dominate the house’s facade.
One of the few brick buildings in Newfane’s Village Center is this charming old bank, right on Main Street. The building was constructed in 1884 as the Vermont National Bank and is a vernacular example of the Romanesque Revival architectural style with the arched openings and brickwork. Vermont architect George A. Hines designed the modest building, which was built for $6,650. The bricks for the building were brought into town by ox cart. Those for the front facade cost 5 cents apiece; those for the sidewalls 3 cents; and those for the back wall 2 cents, showing how the best materials go on the highly visible facades.
When you think of the quintessential New England Village, what do you think of? These villages of white houses around a town green, usually anchored by a congregational church with a tall, white steeple, have been the subject of myriad photographs and memories for decades. Why are so many like this? Well, historically, the bright white we know of as a common house color was not available until the 1920s. Before the early 1900s, “white” paint was more cream or off-white as we would describe it. Many such villages started seeing white paint proliferate as Titanium Dioxide was mixed with pigments to generate the bright white, about at the same time Colonial Revival style homes saw a second resurgence in popularity. The bright-white paint was more expensive and represented stability and prestige. Publications like Yankee Magazine showed photographs of these charming villages blending into the freshly fallen snow or fall foliage and the romanticization of New England truly began. Newfane, Vermont is one of these villages, which are dominated by the bright white paint. It is an obvious choice, especially due to the number of classically inspired Greek Revival style houses.
Constructed circa 1830 for Anthony Jones, this clapboard building in Newfane, Vermont originally contained tenements and was called the “long building” during the nineteenth century. Around the turn of the 20th century, a federal judge acquired the building and some of its rooms were used as offices during sessions of the county courthouse across the street. Subsequently, the local Odd Fellows Group (I.O.O.F.) occupied a hall on the second story, and for a half century after 1910, part of the first story served as Newfane’s telephone exchange. In 1971, the building was converted to apartments and has remained so since that time.
When the Windham County courts were transferred from Westminster in 1787, they were housed in the village known as Newfane on the Hill. Four decades later, influential residents convinced their townsmen to shift the village down to their land in a flat part of town, a location better suited for waterpower and commerce and ease of travel in the winter months. The first two buildings constructed were the courthouse and jail on a common. The village center grew rapidly as people moved old buildings down the hill and remodeled them or built anew, establishing a particularly unified townscape. This courthouse building is very stately for such a small town and packs an architectural punch. The two-story building is capped with a belfry and was designed in the Federal style with fan motifs over the windows and door. In the 1850s, nearby Brattleboro tried to usurp Newfane’s county seat status, so they in turn expanded the courthouse, raising the ceiling on the upper floor and adding the monumental Doric portico and pediment to give the building a decidedly Greek Revival appearance.
Among the earliest buildings in Newfane, this plain two-and-a-half-story, wood-framed and clapboarded gable-roofed house was constructed on its original site on Newfane Hill in 1787 to serve as the county jail. When the residents in town found that living on a hill in winter was less than ideal, much of the town relocated to the flat of town. In 1825, this building was dismantled and moved to its present site. With a new jail being built already, this building was reconstructed as the residence of Anthony Jones, an early resident and businessman. During the middle decades of the century (c.1840-1880), the house served as the Congregational Parsonage for the adjacent church.
When the village of Newfane, Vermont moved down the hill to the flat of town, new buildings were constructed for county and religious uses almost immediately. The local Baptists, Congregationalists, and Universalists together pooled their funds together to erect this church building, which became known as Union Hall as they organized together to construct it. The design follows Gothic Revival principles with the lancet windows and crenelated tower cresting. The design features were later expanded into the larger Congregational church constructed years later when that group built their own church on a nearby site (featured in the last post). The “Union” did not last long as all the congregations built new structures. This building was vacant for years and was later converted to a Grange Hall and town meetings were held in the structure.
The town of Newfane, Vermont was chartered on June 19, 1753, by Governor Benning Wentworth, who named it Fane after John Fane, the 7th Earl of Westmoreland. But hostilities during the French and Indian War prevented its settlement, and because a first town meeting was not held within the required five years, the charter was annulled. From this, Wentworth issued an entirely new charter in 1761, as New Fane. The town was eventually settled in 1766 from families that moved there from Worcester County, Massachusetts. Newfane became the shire town of the county before 1812 and county buildings were constructed. The village’s location up the hill was not ideal and was difficult to access in the winter, so many new buildings were constructed on the flat of town. The village has retained its rural character, but packs a punch in terms of architecture, especially for a town of under 2,000 people. One of the landmarks in town is the Newfane Congregational Church, constructed in 1839 in the Gothic Revival style. The large lancet (pointed arch) windows with corresponding shutters and spire are eye-catching.