Originally owned by marble dealer Daniel Kent (1793-1858) in the 1850s at the height of marble quarrying in the town of Dorset, Vermont, this house shows the history of Dorset very well in its alterations and ownership. After the marble dealer Kent passed away, the property was owned by watchmaker Luke B. Gray (1825-1878). Soon after, homeopathic physician Charles Farrar Harwood (1833-1902) and family moved in. His son, Elmer Harwood (1885-1960), the first Rural Free Delivery mailman in Dorset, continued living here, likely renovating the home with the oversized front porch and charming rustic quality. Harwood oversaw the delivery of mail to the rural farmhouses and village of Dorset, which previously made individuals living in remote homesteads had to pick up mail themselves at sometimes distant post offices or pay private carriers for delivery. In 1965, the home was remodelled and sold it to Hugh Vanderbilt, the son of Robert Thurlow Vanderbilt (yes of that family) whose primary residence was in Greenwich, Connecticut. This new ownership showed how the town of Dorset became popular as a rural/country retreat for the wealthy, many of those families remain here today, preserving these old homes.
Evening Star Grange Hall // c.1874
Rural New England towns like Dummerston, Vermont long relied on agriculture as a means of life. From this, local farmers and their families would organize in regional Grange Halls through the The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, an agricultural advocacy group. Many rural communities in the United States still have a Grange Hall and local Granges still serve as a center of rural life for many farming communities. The local Evening Star Grange was organized in Dummerston Center in 1874 with 32 members, growing by the end of the 19th century. This building would have held meetings where farmers could share trade secrets, make deals, and “talk shop” regarding farm life. Such buildings are significant as community centers for agricultural communities and should be preserved for future generations.
Collinsville Stores // c.1880
These two Italianate-style stores sit on Collinsville’s Main Street, a walkable main street village along the banks of the Farmington River. Each structure has a central, recessed entry with storefront windows meeting the sidewalk. One structure is two stories with a very shallow gable roof and the other is 1 1/2 stories with a false front. These false front facades remind me of old frontier towns in western movies, they are great!
Elias Danforth House // 1832
On the southern end of Center Village in Lancaster, MA, this gorgeous late-Federal style home holds a stately presence built into and atop a sloping hill. The home was built for Elias Danforth (1788-1868) in 1832 and has been so little-altered in the nearly 200 years since. The house features amazing full-length side porches with bold columns, an early sign of the emerging Greek Revival style. The home sold a couple years ago for just over $600,000, which is a STEAL for the location and high-quality house and interior. Wow!
Brookfield Village Store // 1867
Significant as the last extant commercial building in the quaint Brookfield Village, this 1867 structure gives us a glimpse into village life in the latter half of the 19th century. The structure was constructed by Henry Smith Peck (1834-1884), who also constructed a home for his new family next door. Within a year of the store opening, Peck was joined by a partner and they opened Peck & Somers, a general store for the village, which sold local wares as well as imported goods. As is the history of many towns, in the 1960s, 100 years after the store was built, a developer purchased the building in order to demolish it for a “modern store”. The townspeople spoke out against the proposal, saving this charming building! The building is now occupied by a local real estate company.
Wauregan Mills Company Store // 1875
Located a block away from the Wauregan Mill, and surrounded by worker’s housing built by the Wauregan Mill Company, the former company store remains as a later remnant of the once bustling Wauregan Mill community. Built in 1875, this Italianate building was constructed as a store and public meeting space for the workers of the mill, many of whom were parts of larger families from Europe. The company store enabled workers to buy fresh food and milk that were produced in the company farm north of the village. On the top floor, a large ballroom allowed for larger events and religious meetings before the local church was built. The building was later occupied by the Connecticut Mop Manufacturing Company.