The township of Moretown, Vermont was chartered on June 7, 1763 by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. The original charter contained approximately 23,040 acres of land to be divided into about 65 shares of proprietors. Active settlement did not occur until after the Revolutionary War with early buildings constructed on the Winooski River (the northern boundary of the town) and subsequent development along the Mad River (which cuts through the middle of town). Saw and grist mills were built and the town developed as a rural farming and industrial community on the rivers. The Moretown Town Hall was erected in 1835 in the Greek Revival style. It has a pedimented portico with Doric columns that support a large pedimented gable peak in imitation of a Greek temple. Like most buildings in the Mad River Valley, the building is unapologetically Vernacular which means it relies on local materials, local builders, and not on architect-designed finishes. This is an aspect of Vermont architecture that makes the state so charming.
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.
Katherine Forrest Home and Studio // c.1860
This vernacular cottage in Noank was built in phases (and likely added onto from other historic buildings) since 1860. While the building dates to the 1860s, its significance derives from a later owner, Ms. Katherine Forrest. Katherine Forrest (1883-1952) was a graphic designer and part of the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 1900s. She specialized in textile design and printmaking. Forrest came to Noank in 1914 and purchased her house in 1926. She was locally known by the nickname ‘Speedy’ and was remembered for dying textiles in a bathtub outside the house. The building’s vernacular character and its significance as a locally historic site as part of the village’s rebirth as an artist colony in the 20th century showcases how even smaller, unpretentious buildings in New England can tell a story.
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!