Manley-Lefevre House // c.1820

The last (but certainly not least) building in Dorset, Vermont I’ll be featuring is the Manley-Lefevre House aka. Marble House! This stunning Federal period home was built around 1820 by Martin Manley (1783-1856) on land originally owned by his father George. The house is constructed of ashlar marble that was quarried with hand tools from the lower quarry located approximately 200′ behind the site of the house with dressed marble finished in town and brought back for installation at the lintels, sills, and door surround. In 1907, Edwin Lefevre, Sr. (1871-1943) traveled by train from Bronxville, New York to Dorset at the suggestion of the artist Lorenzo Hatch, with the intention of locating a summer residence for his family. They purchased this home, which became known as “The Old Stone House” and hired Eugene J. Lang, a New York architect, to remodel the house, design a kitchen wing and remodel the barn into a garage (1909). While in Italy, Lefevre fell in love with the formal gardens there, and wanted something like this for his country estate. Upon his return, he retained garden designer Charles Downing Lay to design the gardens that surround the house. The country estate is now home to The Marble House Project, a multi-disciplinary artist residency program.

Barrows – Wilson House // 1852

This building, the largest building in East Dorset Village, was constructed and opened as a hotel in 1852 and has ties to one of the most influential organizations in America. Entrepreneur Ira Cochran built this hotel the same year the railroad came to town, capitalizing on the influx of business and new laborers travelling to the once sleepy town now dominated by the marble industry. By the end of the 19th century, the building was owned by the Griffith family. On November 26, 1895, William (Bill) Griffith Wilson was born here, behind the bar of the hotel during a snowstorm. As a child, he moved away until the age of 11, when he returned to East Dorset to live with their maternal grandparents, the Griffiths. Bill would later go on to become the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The building would eventually sit vacant and dilapidated until Albert “Ozzie” Lepper, Wilson’s friend, purchased the property in the late 1980s and made it into a living memorial to Bill Wilson, renovating The Wilson House with the help of volunteers’ time and talent. The hotel reopened in 1998 under the historic name. The Wilson House was later established as a nonprofit organization to ensure that Wilson’s memory, spirit, and purpose in life continues on for decades to come. Today, visitors come to the Wilson House from all corners of the world. Many of them are in recovery themselves, while others are history buffs who simply want to visit the homestead, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

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.

Laura Wade House // 1935

This charming cottage in Dorset is one of four houses in the village which were moved here by Charles Wade in the 1920s and ‘30s. Wade was born in Dorset and saw declining population with the marble industry failing. He sought to re-invigorate the town by advertising its natural beauty and brought in homes and buildings from nearby to fill the “missing teeth” (including the building that presently houses the Dorset Historical Society). Assembled from parts of various Enfield, Massachusetts buildings moved to Dorset this 1½-story, wood-framed, clapboard house stands on a marble ashlar foundation and is said to have been built by Wade for his daughter, Laura Wade.

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!

Warren Dunton House // c.1890

Much of Dorset Village was built in the early-to-mid 19th century, but there are some excellent examples of Colonial Revival and Craftsman homes and buildings. This Colonial Revival house was built c.1890 seemingly by Warren Robbins Dunton (1839-1902), who served as a Captain in the American Civil War. Captain Dunton seemingly built his home after moving the older house on the site back on the lot, building this house at the street. Great house, look at those chunky shutters that actually match the window openings!

Gilbert Sykes House // c.1850

This stunning Greek Revival house in Dorset Village was built around 1850 and was long the home of Gilbert Mortier Sykes (1834-1920). Gilbert Sykes operated a general store in Dorset and held various public offices in town and later in the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate. The house has fully embellished entrance with paneled pilasters carrying an entablature and an amazing triangular window with diamond panes in the gable.