Dorset Congregational Church // 1909

Arguably the most high-style building in the quaint village of Dorset, Vermont is the Congregational Church, which appropriately sits on Church Street. The original congregational church in Dorset was located in nearby Maple Hill Cemetery. When the wood structure burned in 1832, an new wooden church was built on this site. The second wooden building burned in 1907, and then this church was built, but of fireproof construction. Jordan Greene, an architect from New York, designed this Neo Gothic Revival style in the historic district. The church was constructed by the contracting firm of O. W. Norcross, partner in the Norcross-West Marble Company, which donated the building stone from its South Dorset quarry. The design is dominated by a massive square central tower that ascends its facade and is capped by pinnacles. Behind the tower, the gable-roofed church is built of rough-faced Dorset marble laid in patterned coursed ashlar and trimmed with dressed stone. How many other marble churches can you think of?

Congregational Church of Peru // 1845

The centerpiece of the Village of Peru, Vermont is the Congregational Church, a stunning edifice and example of Greek Revival architecture in the small town. Construction on the church began on the Fourth of July in 1845, with contractor and resident J.J. Hapgood utilizing much of the timbers of the former church building in the new church. Since the interior of the old church had been left natural, they decided that wood in the new building should be left unpainted as well. The bell was financed by contributions, most particularly by J.J. Hapgood. In 1853, a tornado swept through Peru, damaging the west end of the church and moving it from the foundation, it survived. The church remains a center of Village life in Peru and is well-maintained by the congregation.

Landgrove Methodist Church // 1857

Built in 1857 as the Landgrove Methodist Church, this absolutely charming church sits in the middle of Landgrove, a town with a population of just 177. The town’s small population acquired funds to erect a church in their town, opting to not make the trip by horseback or foot to the churches in surrounding towns. The vernacular Greek Revival building was likely constructed by the members of the congregation and possibly the work of a local builder. Methodists commissioned the 30 × 40–foot building to attract a regular circuit rider, and by 1870 it had become a Union church with other denominations. There is something so enchanting about these old white churches in small New England towns!

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.

Union Hall // 1832

When the village of Newfane, Vermont moved down the hill to the flat of town, new buildings were constructed for county and religious uses almost immediately. The local Baptists, Congregationalists, and Universalists together pooled their funds together to erect this church building, which became known as Union Hall as they organized together to construct it. The design follows Gothic Revival principles with the lancet windows and crenelated tower cresting. The design features were later expanded into the larger Congregational church constructed years later when that group built their own church on a nearby site (featured in the last post). The “Union” did not last long as all the congregations built new structures. This building was vacant for years and was later converted to a Grange Hall and town meetings were held in the structure.

Newfane Congregational Church // 1839

The town of Newfane, Vermont was chartered on June 19, 1753, by Governor Benning Wentworth, who named it Fane after John Fane, the 7th Earl of Westmoreland. But hostilities during the French and Indian War prevented its settlement, and because a first town meeting was not held within the required five years, the charter was annulled. From this, Wentworth issued an entirely new charter in 1761, as New Fane. The town was eventually settled in 1766 from families that moved there from Worcester County, Massachusetts. Newfane became the shire town of the county before 1812 and county buildings were constructed. The village’s location up the hill was not ideal and was difficult to access in the winter, so many new buildings were constructed on the flat of town. The village has retained its rural character, but packs a punch in terms of architecture, especially for a town of under 2,000 people. One of the landmarks in town is the Newfane Congregational Church, constructed in 1839 in the Gothic Revival style. The large lancet (pointed arch) windows with corresponding shutters and spire are eye-catching.

Brookline Baptist Church // 1836

Brookline, Vermont is home to just 540 people but has one of the most beautiful brick churches in the state! The Brookline Baptist Church sits along a quiet road in town and is an excellent example of vernacular Gothic Revival architecture in the Vermont. Brookline’s first organized church congregation were Baptists, who established a formal organization in 1785 out of local homes and barns. By 1836, enough funds were gathered to erect a church, but of brick, a more substantial building material than traditional wood-frame buildings. The church remained active throughout the nineteenth century, and the vestry addition was constructed off the rear in 1895 to provide space for community gatherings and meals. Dwindling membership led the church to become mostly used for weddings, funerals, graduation ceremonies, and craft fairs by the second half of the 20th century. The Town of Brookline presently owns the significant structure, and while preserved, it does not appear to get much use.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church // 1871

Next door to the Inn Victoria, the beautiful St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Chester, VT, stands out as one of the only Gothic Revival buildings in the town. A small group of residents gathered in the 1860s to found a Episcopal church in the town, which already had a dominant Congregational church. They furnished money which was matched by the diocese, and Merrick Wentworth was named senior warden. Members of his family and that of Frederick Fullerton, his son-in-law, formed a large part of the congregation. Frederick and Philette Wentworth Fullerton donated a building site across the street from their home (featured previously), and Mr. Wentworth’s nephew, Boston architect, William P. Wentworth, contributed plans for a Gothic-style frame church, which includes a tall corner belltower.

South Reading Union Meetinghouse // 1844

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..

Unitarian Church, Burlington // 1816

The building that gives Burlington’s iconic Church Street its name is this, the Unitarian Church of Burlington. One of the most stunning Federal style churches in New England, the church is the oldest surviving place of worship in Burlington, built in 1816. The church was designed by English architect Peter Banner (possibly with assistance of Charles Bulfinch), years after his crowning achievement, the Park Street Church in Boston was completed. From the head of Church Street, the church oversaw the growth of Burlington from a small lakefront town to the largest city in the state. In August 1954, the church steeple was struck by lightning, causing it to shift over two feet in a matter of months, unknown to the congregation and public. It was decided that due to concerns the steeple may collapse through the building, it was selectively demolished and reconstructed. The church remains an active part in the city and architectural landmark for Burlington.