Former Green Mountain Seminary // 1869

The Green Mountain Seminary building in Waterbury Center, Vermont was built in 1869 as a co-educational Free Will Baptist school. The building is one of the largest and grand examples of Italianate architecture in this part of the state. As originally laid out, the lower two floors were used for educational purposes and included a chapel, while the third floor and attic level were used for men’s housing. Here, men would be trained to be Baptist priests. Upon opening, a catalogue expressed the building’s rural location in the town as a benefit, stating “It is removed from the bustle and distraction of large commercial villages; is free from the haunts of vice and dissipation or temptation to idleness; and is surrounded by natural scenery unsurpassed in its magnificence and grandeur.” The building went through a variety of educational and boarding uses until 1895, when it was deeded to the town for use as a public school building. The building is nearly unchanged as when it was built in 1869, besides the removal of the rooftop belvedere and walkway in the 1940s.

Waterbury Railroad Depot // 1875

Historic train stations are among some of my favorite types of buildings as they transport you to a different time (no pun intended). The Waterbury Railroad Depot was built in 1875 by the Central Vermont Railroad, connecting Montreal, Quebec with New London, CT and to other lines to Boston and Albany on the way. Waterbury service began in 1849, but this updated station was built later as the railway prospered and expanded. The station suffered from some deferred maintenance for decades in the mid-20th century and its fate (like many such stations) was unknown. Beginning in the late 1990s into the 2000s, Revitalizing Waterbury worked with the Great American Station Foundation, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Foundation, establishing a capital fundraising campaign meeting the goal of $1,200,000 through donations from the private sector and community members. These funds helped restore the building in phases, beginning when Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. agreed to lease the station from Revitalizing Waterbury, and created a visitor center and cafe (now Black Cap Coffee and Bakery) that has become a first-class attraction and provided an economic boost to the downtown.

Vincent’s Pharmacy and Waterbury Masonic Hall // 1834

While of different scale, these two brick buildings on Main Street in Waterbury, Vermont compliment each other very well. Vincent’s Pharmacy, the smaller building, was built in 1834 in the Federal and Greek Revival styles by Dan Carpenter, early lawyer and judge, to house a pharmacy business that he ran with his son, William. Next door, dating from approximately the same year as the pharmacy, the larger structure housed Waterbury’s first Masonic hall in 1860’s and in successive years a hardware business. The former Masonic hall is now home to The Reservoir, a great local restaurant that I grabbed lunch in while visiting the town.

Moretown Public Library // c.1845

This 1840s Greek Revival home turned library, sits on the main street in the charming rural town of Moretown, Vermont. The quaint village never had a public library, but that changed starting in 1904, when residents and the town established a fund for purchasing books for the town’s citizens. In 1923, the library trustees purchased this residence which would serve as a stand-alone library for the village. Resident Lilla Haylett was instrumental in the accession and conversion of the home for use as a library from the estate of Ellen J. Palmer, who lived there until her death in 1923. The opening and celebration was short-lived however, as in 1927, elevated levels of the Mad River flooded much of the town. Water levels were well over the first floor of the building and nearly all books were lost. The Moretown Memorial Library was nearly lost, but the town rebuilt over years. The library remains today as a testament to the desire for learning and it serves as a landmark for the charming rural village.

South Duxbury Church and Hall // 1855

This is the first church which ever built in Duxbury, Vermont. On December 18, 1854, at the South Duxbury schoolhouse, representatives from six denominations in the newly formed town, gathered to form the First Union Society of Duxbury. The participants were: the Congregationalists, Universalists, Free Will Baptists, Protestant Methodists, Episcopalian Methodists, and the Adventists. Twenty-five names appear on the original subscription list, indicating the pledged money or materials that each would contribute to the construction of the church. Samuel Cook Turner was contracted to build the church, with pews inside purchased by individual families to help fund the construction. The building is vernacular and modest due to the rural character of the congregations and town’s location, but it has a more Classically inspired door enframement. In 1890, funds were gathered for a church hall, which sits nextdoor. The meeting hall would serve as the meeting space for a temperance organization known as the “Independent Order of the Good Templar”. The church hall appears to have some deferred maintenance, but both buildings together share an early history of a rural and often overlooked small Vermont town.

Coolidge Homestead // c.1840

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.