In 1876, a four year old Calvin Coolidge moved to this house in sleepy Plymouth Notch, Vermont, which was purchased by his father and he lived here continuously until 1887 when he began to attend the Black River Academy at nearby Ludlow, Vermont. The house was likely built in the mid-19th century as a modest Greek Revival cape and was Victorianized in the late 19th century by Calvin Coolidge’s father, when he added the two-story bay window, dormer, and side additions. The house remained in the Coolidge family until 1956 when it was given to the State of Vermont as part of the Calvin Coolidge Historic Site.
Coolidge Cheese Factory // 1890
Does it get more Vermont than a cheese factory?! The Coolidge Cheese Factory in Plymouth Notch, Vermont was built in 1890 by Col. John Coolidge (President Calvin Coolidge‘s father), James S. Brown, and two other local farmers so that they would have a convenient market processing milk produced by their farms into cheese. The vernacular building was a short walk from the original Coolidge home and is evocative of many such buildings in rural Vermont. The cheese factory continued to operate until the 1930’s. The factory was renovated in the early 1970s in honor of President Coolidge’s 100th birthday and now produces cheese according to the original formula. The cheese would make a great Christmas gift!
Union Christian Church of Plymouth Notch // 1840
Located next to President Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace and the Coolidge Family store, the Union Christian Church of Plymouth Notch in Vermont stands as another of the village’s well-preserved buildings with direct ties to the former president. The church was built in 1840 as a modest, vernacular Greek Revival building with a two-stage tower and originally was the town’s meetinghouse. The building was dedicated as a Congregational church in 1842. President Coolidge attended services here as a child and later when visiting his hometown as Governor of Massachusetts and President of the United States. In 1942, the
building became a union church for all congregations.
Coolidge Family Store // c.1830
Built before 1835, this typical country store in Plymouth, Vermont, consists of a two-story main block with a one-story storage ell on the southern (left) side, each of frame and clapboard with gabled roof. The building was the village’s country store and was owned by the Coolidge Family, made famous by Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. This store was built years before a home for the Coolidge Family was built attached at the rear. The attached house was the birthplace of President Calvin Coolidge in 1872, and the building was where after the death of President Warren Harding, Col. John Coolidge, Calvin’s father, a notary public, administered the presidential oath of office to his son in the family dining room at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, 1923. The old house and store are preserved by the State of Vermont as a living museum to President Coolidge and his family.
President Calvin Coolidge Birthplace // 1840
The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth, Vermont preserves the birthplace and childhood home of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. This iconic historic village appears much as it was during Coolidge’s lifetime. The homes of the Coolidge family, their relatives and friends are joined by the 1840 church, 1890 schoolhouse, cheese factory, and historic agricultural structures and barns. More on all of these later. First up is the birthplace of President Coolidge. This squat 1 1/2-story dwelling was built in 1840 at the rear of the Coolidge Family store which fronts the main road. The five-room house was later known as the location where President Coolidge took the presidential oath of office. By the 20th century, the old home was altered, but was restored in 1971 just in time for the 100th birthday celebration by the State of Vermont for Coolidge, dedicating the village as a historic museum.
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.