Aaron and Susan Parker Farmhouse // 1796

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.

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!

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.

Proctorsville Firehouse // 1883

Industrial villages like Proctorsville in Cavendish, Vermont, have always been susceptible to fire and complete destruction. As a result, many such villages erected firehouses or barns where apparatus (and sometimes horses) would be kept in case of emergency. The Proctorsville Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1883, and this structure was built to house the fire apparatus and possibly a small apartment or living quarters above. Today, the building appears to be home to the Fire Society.

Pollard Block // 1895

Proctorsville Village (in present-day Cavendish, Vermont) was established in last decades of the 18th century along the Black River, where the slope allowed for suitable locations for small water-powered mills. The community grew slowly for the early part of the 19th century as farmers, craftsman and merchants established enterprises around the handful of small mills built along the river. The establishment of the Central Vermont Railroad through the village aided manufacturing expansion, and by the late 1800s, Proctorsville was home to many large mills. As employment in the mills grew, the local economy shifted from the barter economy of a farming community to a cash-based economy generated by wage employment. The general store was essential to this transition supplied the townspeople with essential goods via the railroad, and the major store in Proctorsville was the Pollard General Store. Don Carlos Pollard (1840-1921) was born in Plymouth, Vermont and opened his first store there under his father’s name. He moved to Proctorsville in 1860 and opened a general store in the village. The store was an immediate hit, and later managed by Don’s two eldest sons, Fred and Park out of a brick building. A fire destroyed the brick building in 1895, but construction began of a new building immediately that same year. The present wood-frame building exhibits the retail presence and early commerce in many small villages in New England. It blends Italianate and Classical Revival details with the bracketed eaves and one-story corner pilasters and dentils. Swoon!

Newfane Odd Fellows Hall // c.1830

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.

Old Windham County Jail – Jones House // 1787

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.

Scott Farm – Horse Barn // c.1910

You saw the cow barn at Scott Farm, now you can see where the horses lived! The Horse Barn at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont is a very photogenic building with its symmetrical facade and bright colors. The barn was built not long after Frederick Holbrook II of Boston acquired most of the farm to add to Naulakha, where he lived. Holbrook used the farm as a gentleman’s farm where he would have laborers managing the grounds and supplying him with the freshest produce and dairy products. Inside, there is a ramp down to the basement which still retains the horse stalls, it’s so charming!

Scott Farm – Farmhouse // c.1845

Scott Farm, established as a working farm in the late 18th century and as a commercial apple orchard in 1911, is an excellent example of the vernacular architecture that Vermont is known for. The sprawling 571-acre farm was established in Dummerston in 1791 and purchased by Rufus Scott in the mid-1800s. In the 1840s, he built this farmhouse and many of the barn buildings soon after. The five bay Greek Revival house is in a Cape form and retains its historic slate roof and detailing. The property has been owned since 1995 by The Landmark Trust USA, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve historic properties through creative sustainable uses for public enjoyment and education. The farm sits a short drive to Naulakha and the Dutton Farmhouse (both featured previously) which are also managed by the Landmark Trust USA.