One of the oldest continually operating inns in America, the Dorset Inn remains a visual and historical anchor to the charming little village of Dorset, Vermont. The Federal period building was historically known as the Hodges Hotel before becoming The Washington Hotel in about 1858 (the porch was added at that time to make it resemble George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home). The name became the Dorset Inn in 1904. As constructed in 1796, the main block possessed a five-bay facade arranged symmetrically around a central entrance; an 1858 extension added two bays on the west, when it was modernized. Though the inn has seen changes and modernizations over time, the building has such a historic character that brings in people from all over the country to experience the best of Dorset every year.
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.
Driving down the dirt roads of rural Vermont with no cell phone service can be a great way to explore, so imagine my delight when i drove past this stunning old building tucked behind a historic cemetery! The building was erected in 1835-1837 by Levi Bailey, a local entrepreneur and mill owner who, in 1794, in partnership with a George Betterley, purchased the mill site and proceeded to build a dam, for later development. Legend says, in 1808, he required the good will of David Hapgood, his next door neighbor, so he could buy more land in front of his proposed mill. But, in fact, Levi had so irritated Hapgood somehow, that he instead donated the coveted acre to the Town of Reading for use as a town cemetery, ensuring that Bailey could never control it. Thus a “spite” cemetery was laid out, the only one I am aware of! Underterred, Bailey erected over the next two decades the series of buildings to manufacture goods, the buildings we see today. Bailey’s Mills in Reading, Vermont, is actually three connected, 2 1/2-story, brick, Greek Revival style buildings with several attached wood frame appendages added over time. He lived in the building and a store was run out of the building for locals. The building is now home to the Bailey Mills Bed & Breakfast.
The Lamb-Davis House, today the Hubble Shire Farm, was constructed in 1832 and stands as one of the best-preserved examples of a brick Federal style home in Vermont. The home was built by Reuben Lamb, a builder, who showcased his craftsmanship at the entrance especially. The front door has 2/3-length sidelights with curved tracery. Flanking the lights, are engaged columns supporting a protruding, fret-detailed frieze, and above a glazed fanlight with radiating muntins sit in a paneled reveal. Surrounding the entire entrance configuration is a granite arch that incorporates pilasters and a keystone, elegantly framing all the detail. The home was sold to Aaron Davis in 1865 and remained in the Davis family over one hundred years. It was purchased in 2019 and converted to a high-end bed & breakfast and event space. The interior was modernized but the exterior appears much as it would have nearly 200 years ago.
The Fullerton Inn exemplifies the prevalence of large hotels in smaller New England towns. By the middle of the 19th century, the railroad had brought both a great increase in travel and the accompanying need for better accommodations in Chester. In 1862, a hotel was constructed on the site fronting the town Green hat would remain the location of the village’s icon, the Fullerton Inn. The Ingraham House (as it was originally called) was a 3-story, hip-roofed building in the Italianate style. The hotel on the Green became the node around which the village’s previously scattered commercial enterprises thereafter coalesced. The Ingraham House later burned to the ground in a massive fire in 1888.
The industrialization and development of the village boomed, and townsfolk rallied for a new hotel to bring in visitors. By 1890, a new hotel was constructed. Named “The Fullerton” after Nathaniel Fullerton, who largely underwrote its cost, the new 3-story, 30-room hotel presented to the Green an eclectic design distinguished mostly by a broad veranda with second-story balcony and a four-story, pyramidal-peaked corner tower. The Queen Anne Victorian hotel also succumbed to the same fate as the original, as a fire destroyed the building in 1920.
Within a year, however, a new Fullerton Inn arose on the site. The 35-room replacement emulates its predecessor in scale and the fullwidth veranda; its style, however, corresponds to a gambrel roofed version of the Colonial Revival shared by several contemporary houses in the village. A novel feature of the second Fullerton dominates its lobby: a rubble fireplace that incorporates 27 varieties of stone found in the vicinity in Chester.