Located in the Post Mills Village of Thetford, Vermont, the Peabody Library is one of the cutest library buildings ever! The library was a gift to the community of Post Mills by George Peabody, one of the first great American philanthropists. Peabody spent some time in Post Mills as a teenager, where his maternal grandfather lived. Peabody’s grant of $5,000 paid for purchase of the land, construction of the building, and acquisition of 1,100 volumes. He also donated funds for other libraries including the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers. The library exhibits a unique blend of characteristics from both the Greek Revival and Italianate Revival styles, being an outstanding representative of the mid nineteenth-century transition in architectural fashion. Oh to see inside this little library!
Hezekiah Porter (1783-1851) built this house in 1822 for him and his family, right in Thetford Center, Vermont. Porter was born in 1783 in Hebron, Connecticut, where he presumably learned the clothier trade, before moving to Thetford in 1806. Porter later operated a brickyard, serving as contractor to the Thetford Center Methodist Church, Town Hall and several other brick homes in town dating from the 1820s and 1830s. Porter lived on this large property with his wife and ten children until his death. The property was later occupied by Hezekiah’s son, Amos P. Porter. In 1888, Amos farmed about 200 acres and had 7 cows, 50 Merino sheep and 18 Jersey cattle!
An outstanding example of the Gothic Revival style churches in Vermont, this brick, three bay, gable front church was constructed in 1838 in Thetford Center Vermont. The Gothic Revival style is expressed here primarily in the pointed louvered insets above the windows (including the pointed louvers in the steeple) and the finials at the steeple. The church building was constructed using brick made in the local brickyard owned by Hezekiah Porter. Designed to seat 250 people, it was constructed for the cost of a mere $1,400. Behind the church is the Evergreen Cemetery, administered by a Cemetery Association, in which are many of the early residents of Thetford and members of the congregation and its founders.
Josiah Hosford of Thetford, Vermont built this stone house for his family in about 1835. Hosford was a stone mason who built a series of stone houses in town, using stone quarried in nearby Lyme, New Hampshire. Josiah Hosford (1802-1883), was the grandson of Aaron Hosford, one of the earliest settlers in the North Thetford area. The distinguished family contributed resided and contributed to the town’s vibrant history, as ministers, teachers, artists, farmers, and tradespeople. A fire at the home in the early 1900s gutted the interior, and the owner at the time, a carpenter, reconstructed the interiors, shingled the side gables, and added on the porches.
Constructed out of stone quarried from nearby Lyme, New Hampshire, the Child Farmhouse is one of a handful of stone houses in East Thetford, Vermont. This house is a particularly fine example of a Cape Cod with Federal detailing, as translated into granite construction. The home features stone lintels over the door and window openings. It was built for Bela Child (1786-1866), likely after the death of his first wife, as a new home for his second. The family operated a massive farm along the Connecticut river.
In New England, brick houses are more scarce for the simple fact trees are everywhere, brickyards were not. As towns and cities developed all across the region, some towns found they had a lot of clay in their soil, perfect for the manufacturing of brick. In Thetford, a man named Hezekiah Porter was the first to start a brickyard, manufacturing bricks for construction projects around the area. By the 1820s, a couple brick houses were built in the Thetford Hill area of town including the Hosford House, one of the earliest. Thomas Turner, a builder constructed the Hosford House and this home nearby for his own use, both utilizing Porter’s bricks. This fine Federal home was likely a great advertisement for Turner’s building skills.
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.
Is there anything better than a brick Federal style house?
This house in Thetford, Vermont was built for Heman Hosford in 1821 from bricks produced by Hezekiah Porter, who established the earliest known brickyard in Thetford. Hosford sold the house to Enoch Slade in 1837 and it remained in the Slade Family for over seven generations. He became a prominent citizen of Thetford, was a surveyor and for many years justice of the peace, and in the latter part of his life was generally known by the title of “Squire Slade.” He was a supporter and trustee of Thetford Academy, in which his children and grandchildren were educated. He was a member of the Congregational church and an earnest supporter of the principles of the Republican party. The brick gable front home features a louvered sidelights and fan over the front door and in the gable.
This transitional Federal house in Thetford was built around 1795 for an Isaac White. The house was later owned by Orange Heaton (who’s name perfectly fits the color of the leaves in the photo). The design is refined, yet stately with the enclosed, gabled, projecting entrance porch. Louvered panels and an elliptical louvered fan frame the door.
Thetford Academy opened in February 1819, after the constitution of Vermont called for free elementary schools in each town, a school in each county for studies above the elementary level, and one university for the state. These schools prepared students in classical languages, mathematics, “natural philosophy,” and the arts for entrance into colleges and universities, and careers in ministry, law, medicine, and teaching. By the time Thetford Academy was founded, girls were being admitted to some academies (usually in the summer term) for studies which were advanced beyond the common schools, but which were not intended to prepare for college. Thetford Academy admitted both boys and girls from its founding. The school thrived beginning on it’s first day of classes, growing almost annually with new buildings constructed to house new classrooms and dormitories.
The first academic building, erected in 1818 by Fitch, was crowned by a bell tower and featured separate entries for boys and girls. It was destroyed by fire on November 14, 1942. Fueled by high winds, the fire also destroyed the girls’ dormitory and the library. Undeterred, the school rebuilt nearby beginning with this Colonial Revival building, known as the White Building. Later buildings were added to create the campus we see today.