A very rare example of a snecked ashlar church, the South Reading Union Meeting House in Reading, Vermont remains in a great state of preservation, and a testament to innovative building styles seen in rural parts of New England. Built in 1844, the stone church was built by local stone masons based on the unique regional stone construction method. The church features a triangular stone in the facade which shows its construction date. There is something so stunning about stone churches..
Reading Vermont’s public library building was built in 1899, by local resident Gilbert A. Davis (1835-1919). The building’s funds were furnished by Mr. Davis in his life, likely inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s fund which had libraries built in towns all over the United States. Gilbert Davis worked as a lawyer in Woodstock before moving back to Reading, Vermont to run his own practice. The library he funded is Neo-Classical in design in the form of a Greek Cross with intersecting gable roofs and with a monumental portico in the Ionic Order on the front facade. The charming library building is well-preseved and an excellent example of Vermonts beautiful small-town libraries.
The Reading Town Hall in Reading, Vermont is an imposing shingle-clad, gambrel roof building which sits in the village of Felchville. The hall was built in 1911 as a gift to the citizens of Reading by Wallace F. Robinson. Wallace Robinson was born in Reading in 1832. He went to Boston as a young man and entered into the provisions (groceries) market, and became quite successful, expanding into the wholesale provisions business and meat packing. He was active in civic and business affairs of Boston, most notably as the President of the Boston Chamber of Commerce and as a State Representative in the Legislature for two terms. By around 1900, Robinson had retired and had taken up a life of philanthropy, spending much of his wealth on memorial buildings and to places that had a lasting impact on him, including Robinson Hall at Dartmouth College and renovations at UVM. The design for the Reading Town Hall is especially notable for the fact that it was designed to resemble historic gambrel roofed barns found in the state.
The Chittenden County Superior Courthouse in Burlington, Vermont was built in 1906 and is one of the most bold architectural designs in the city. The building was actually constructed as the U.S. Post Office and Custom House for Burlington, but changed use in the 1980s after the Old County Courthouse was destroyed by fire. The building was the work of U.S. Treasury architect James Knox Taylor. Taylor designed, many major eastern federal buildings during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He provided plans for this Beaux Arts structure with a well-appointed exterior finished in marble and dressed granite. Beaux-Arts architecture depended on sculptural decoration along conservative modern lines, blossoming in the United States in the early 20th century after many American architects studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century.
The Burlington Savings Bank building, constructed in 1900, is one of the most architecturally sophisticated buildings in Downtown Burlington, Vermont. The design uses a brick and brownstone facade with prominent wall dormers and a corner tower with conical roof which harkens back to the chateaus and estates of Europe. The recessed corner entrance is framed by free-standing Ionic columns which support a brownstone segmental arch, which helps command the corner presence. The Burlington Savings Bank opened for business on January 1, 1848, and operated under that title until 1988 when it merged with the Bank of Boston to become the Bank of Vermont, which in 1995, was purchased by KeyBank. The corner building is now occupied by Citizens Bank, which continues this buildings legacy as a castle of finance in the city.
One of the largest, most grand buildings in Downtown Burlington, Vermont is its City Hall building, constructed in 1928, just before the Great Depression. The brick facade with extensive carved marble trim is Neo-classical in style, with virtually all the finish materials – brick, marble, roofing slate, and granite produced in Vermont. The building replaced the 1850s City Hall, which was poorly constructed and suffered from deterioration, exacerbated by an earthquake in 1925. Architect William M. Kendall was hired to complete the designs of the large, bold Classical building. Kendall spent his career with the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, the leading American architectural practice at the turn of the century, and showcased the best of that firm with the design of this building.
The Old Round Church in Richmond, Vermont, was built in 1812-13 under the direction of local craftsman William Rhodes to be the Town Meeting Hall and place of worship for members of five denominations in the area. While the church is known as the Old Round Church, it is actually a sixteen-sided polygon, but I think it is safe to say the Old Round Church sounds better than the Old Hexadecagon Church… Traditionally, 18th- and 19th-century meetinghouses were rectangular in form and many followed popular builders’ pattern books which standardized the rectangular Wren-Gibbs architectural type. Experimentation was generally limited to decorative detail, steeples, porches or the orientation of the entrance, and not to the form, which is why this building is so unique. Within a few decades of the church’s opening, the founding denominations began to move out, some of them to build worship places elsewhere in town. In 1880, the Old Round Church reverted to the Town of Richmond and continued in use as the town’s meeting hall until 1973, at which time safety concerns forced its closure to the public.The Richmond Historical Society was formed in 1973, shortly before the church had to be closed and in 1976, the town deeded the church to the society, who then gathered funds to restore the building, protecting it from a much darker future. The Old Round Church remains one of the most unique architectural designs in Vermont and is always a treat to drive by in all seasons!
The Richmond Underwear Company in Richmond, Vermont was formed in 1900, in response to a drive by the citizens of town to attract a business to the town by means of financial inducement. In 1900, residents here raised several thousand dollars to entice two businessmen from Upstate New York to establish a plant for the
manufacture of women’s and children’s muslin underwear. The factory was built in a former apple orchard just north of the main strip in seven months and soon after, became one of Vermont’s largest manufacturers of underwear, employing 160 people at its peak (mostly women). This new company resulted in an influx of workers, and a building boom in the town, and it became the first building in the town to be fitted with steam heat and electrical power. After WWII, the factory was occupied by Gilman Paper Co., who manufactured paper to use for the backing of rugs, but later became know as Cellucord. After that, the building was occupied by various companies and craftsmen until it was restored in the early 1990s and now houses offices.
In 1833, Jedediah H. Harris, who had run a general store in Strafford village since 1803, commissioned a local contractor to build a new brick and granite store. Harris and his then-partner, Justin Morrill, opened the store in late fall 1834, selling provisions to locals and visitors to the small town. Morrill would later go on to construct a stunning Gothic home nearby and become a leading U.S. Senator. For more than one hundred years the store passed through a succession of owners, until C. William Berghorn Jr. closed it in 1951 to make it his residence. The building has since been converted to the local post office branch, with a residential unit likely above.
Designed and built by Senator Justin Morrill in 1883, this building was donated to the town of Strafford by Morrill in memory of his mentor Jedidiah Harris. It was given to the town as a public library in part to house the Harris Library, which in turn had been created by a bequest from Harris. This structure remained a library until the Morrill Memorial Library building was completed in 1928 and its collection was joined with Morrill’s. It is currently used as the Town Office building providing space for the Town Clerk/Treasurer and Town Records, and town boards. The white clapboarded building has Victorian detailing with the spindled posts at the porch with a prominent gambrel roof covered in slate. Cute!