By the late 1800s, Vermonters had left the state in high numbers as agriculture began to sharply decline as a career path in New England, with many leaving to urban centers and manufacturing towns. Vermont politicians responded to the de-population with initiatives to encourage the redevelopment of existing farms by seasonal residents with money who could summer there to escape the hustle and bustle (and dirty air) of urban centers. Towns threw events like “Old Home” days with activities to entice affluent family members to return home and bring their money with them. After 1850, railroads made it easier for urban families to trade the heat and congestion of the city for the beauty of Vermont. One of these wealthy expats was James Hale Bates (1826-1901), who was born in Cavendish, Vermont, and moved to New York and worked in advertising, operating a major firm there. He retired in 1895, after the completion of Brook Farm one year earlier, a gentleman’s farm that he had built in his ancestral hometown of Cavendish. This massive Colonial Revival mansion was the centerpiece among sweeping fields and orchards contained by rustic stone walls. It is believed that Vermont architect, Clinton Smith, designed the estate house and many of the out-buildings on the site from the carriage and cow barns to the caretaker’s house and creamery. In recent years, the estate was operated as a vineyard, but it appears to be closed now. This is one of the hidden gems of Vermont and one of the most stunning Colonial Revival homes I have seen!
This beautiful farmhouse in Cavendish, Vermont is located along a winding dirt road and has ties to one of the town’s original family’s. A home was built here in 1785 and changed hands numerously over the first few decades of its existence. The farmhouse that was built also served as a tavern for travellers along the newly laid out Wethersfield Turnpike. It is possible that the cheap land and rural character of the new town was appealing to some, but reality away from true commerce may have made many sell the farm after a few years, which could explain why the property was bought and sold so often early on. The property was purchased by Jonathan Atherton, a Revolutionary War veteran, farmer, surveyor and lawyer, who acquired large landholdings in Cavendish. In 1821, Jonathan Atherton was sued in court by his neighbor, Jedediah Tuttle for beating Tuttle’s wife Lydia. In order to finance the bonds, Atherton mortgaged all his real estate in Cavendish to his brother Joseph, and Elihu Ives, Jonathan Atherton Jr.’s father-in-law. Atherton St. lost the case and had to pay a fine. The property was eventually inherited by Stedman Atherton, the youngest son of Jonathan, who seems to have demolished the old homestead and constructed the present home on the site. The original dwelling was also the childhood home of Henry B. Atherton, a staunch abolitionist and soldier in the American Civil War, who later served as a lawyer and state legislator for New Hampshire, and his sister Eliza (Atherton) Aiken, a Civil War nurse who has been referred to as America’s own “Florence Nightingale”. The old Atherton farmstead was recently renovated.
What a treat it was to stumble upon one of the most beautiful homes in Vermont, and all the best houses have names! Glimmerstone is located in the small town of Cavendish, and is possibly the finest Snecked Ashlar constructed home in the state. The house was built in 1845 for Henry Fullerton, manager of the Black River Manufacturing and Canal Company mill in Cavendish. The stone used to build the house was quarried less than a mile away, and hauled to the site. The construction style consists of stone facing on either side of rubble fill, with slabs and snecks sometimes laid across the fill to provide strength, a method brought to the region by Scottish immigrant masons. The house’s design is by a local carpenter, Lucius Paige, and is based on designs published by Andrew Jackson Downing, who depicted many Gothic style designs in pattern books which were built all over the country. The house has had a number of owners after Mr. Fullerton died. During the prohibition era, Art Hadley, who would later become extremely wealthy as the inventor of the expansion bracelet, used the home as part of a rum running operation. Glimmerstone was purchased in 2010 by the current owners, who underwent a massive restoration of the home, converting it into a bed and breakfast, allowing the public to experience the property as well.
This house in Cavendish was constructed in 1850 by Joshua Parker and is an outstanding example of a gothicized snecked ashlar house. The house is in the Cape form and largely exhibits a more traditional cottage layout, but with the steep gable dormer, giving the home a distinctive Gothic feeling. The 1850 home replaced a late 18th century farmhouse, but in the iconic snecked ashlar construction. The farm grew over the subsequent decades, including a c.1900 snecked ashlar barn (not pictured), which is probably the last building of “Snecked Ashlar” construction erected in the State of Vermont.
This Greek Revival cape house in Cavendish, Vermont sits along a rural road and is one of the few dozen examples of Snecked Ashlar buildings in this part of the state. In the early 1830s, skilled masons from Scotland settled in central Vermont to work on building projects there. A number of these builders, mainly from the Aberdeen area, were experienced in snecked ashlar construction, in which plates of stone are affixed to a rubblestone wall. This home was built for James Spaulding, and remained in the Spaulding family for generations, lovingly maintained as an excellent example of a Snecked Ashlar home in Vermont.
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.
Industrial villages like Proctorsville in Cavendish, Vermont, have always been susceptible to fire and complete destruction. As a result, many such villages erected firehouses or barns where apparatus (and sometimes horses) would be kept in case of emergency. The Proctorsville Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1883, and this structure was built to house the fire apparatus and possibly a small apartment or living quarters above. Today, the building appears to be home to the Fire Society.
Proctorsville Village (in present-day Cavendish, Vermont) was established in last decades of the 18th century along the Black River, where the slope allowed for suitable locations for small water-powered mills. The community grew slowly for the early part of the 19th century as farmers, craftsman and merchants established enterprises around the handful of small mills built along the river. The establishment of the Central Vermont Railroad through the village aided manufacturing expansion, and by the late 1800s, Proctorsville was home to many large mills. As employment in the mills grew, the local economy shifted from the barter economy of a farming community to a cash-based economy generated by wage employment. The general store was essential to this transition supplied the townspeople with essential goods via the railroad, and the major store in Proctorsville was the Pollard General Store. Don Carlos Pollard (1840-1921) was born in Plymouth, Vermont and opened his first store there under his father’s name. He moved to Proctorsville in 1860 and opened a general store in the village. The store was an immediate hit, and later managed by Don’s two eldest sons, Fred and Park out of a brick building. A fire destroyed the brick building in 1895, but construction began of a new building immediately that same year. The present wood-frame building exhibits the retail presence and early commerce in many small villages in New England. It blends Italianate and Classical Revival details with the bracketed eaves and one-story corner pilasters and dentils. Swoon!
One of the best examples of a temple-front Greek Revival house in the state of Vermont is this stunner, found in Newfane Village. The house was constructed in 1832 for General Pardon T. Kimball (1797-1873), a cattle-broker, general of the state militia and later, a state senator. Kimball made a name for himself locally as he donated much of his money to social causes, from a local almshouse to other charitable organizations. Kimball died in 1873 after falling from his carriage. The house was converted to an inn in 1965-6 and has since been known as the Four Columns Inn, so-named after the four monumental Ionic columns that dominate the house’s facade.
One of the few brick buildings in Newfane, Vermont’s main village is the Windham County Historical Museum building, a later addition to the area (not over 100 years old). The building was constructed in 1936 as a museum to house and share artifacts and history related to Newfane and the surrounding communities. The idea for a countywide society to preserve artifacts related to Windham County came from Clara Chipman Newton, whose ancestors settled on Newfane Hill after the American Revolution. The organization was incorporated August 10, 1933. Once the Society began receiving artifacts, there became a need for storing and displaying them. The Society members began a building fund and the cornerstone of the present Museum was laid August 5, 1936. The structure was designed to appear like a Federal style home, with its symmetrical facade and a raised basement.