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’s Village Center is this charming old bank, right on Main Street. The building was constructed in 1884 as the Vermont National Bank and is a vernacular example of the Romanesque Revival architectural style with the arched openings and brickwork. Vermont architect George A. Hines designed the modest building, which was built for $6,650. The bricks for the building were brought into town by ox cart. Those for the front facade cost 5 cents apiece; those for the sidewalls 3 cents; and those for the back wall 2 cents, showing how the best materials go on the highly visible facades.
When you think of the quintessential New England Village, what do you think of? These villages of white houses around a town green, usually anchored by a congregational church with a tall, white steeple, have been the subject of myriad photographs and memories for decades. Why are so many like this? Well, historically, the bright white we know of as a common house color was not available until the 1920s. Before the early 1900s, “white” paint was more cream or off-white as we would describe it. Many such villages started seeing white paint proliferate as Titanium Dioxide was mixed with pigments to generate the bright white, about at the same time Colonial Revival style homes saw a second resurgence in popularity. The bright-white paint was more expensive and represented stability and prestige. Publications like Yankee Magazine showed photographs of these charming villages blending into the freshly fallen snow or fall foliage and the romanticization of New England truly began. Newfane, Vermont is one of these villages, which are dominated by the bright white paint. It is an obvious choice, especially due to the number of classically inspired Greek Revival style houses.
Constructed circa 1830 for Anthony Jones, this clapboard building in Newfane, Vermont originally contained tenements and was called the “long building” during the nineteenth century. Around the turn of the 20th century, a federal judge acquired the building and some of its rooms were used as offices during sessions of the county courthouse across the street. Subsequently, the local Odd Fellows Group (I.O.O.F.) occupied a hall on the second story, and for a half century after 1910, part of the first story served as Newfane’s telephone exchange. In 1971, the building was converted to apartments and has remained so since that time.
When the Windham County courts were transferred from Westminster in 1787, they were housed in the village known as Newfane on the Hill. Four decades later, influential residents convinced their townsmen to shift the village down to their land in a flat part of town, a location better suited for waterpower and commerce and ease of travel in the winter months. The first two buildings constructed were the courthouse and jail on a common. The village center grew rapidly as people moved old buildings down the hill and remodeled them or built anew, establishing a particularly unified townscape. This courthouse building is very stately for such a small town and packs an architectural punch. The two-story building is capped with a belfry and was designed in the Federal style with fan motifs over the windows and door. In the 1850s, nearby Brattleboro tried to usurp Newfane’s county seat status, so they in turn expanded the courthouse, raising the ceiling on the upper floor and adding the monumental Doric portico and pediment to give the building a decidedly Greek Revival appearance.
When the village of Newfane, Vermont moved down the hill to the flat of town, new buildings were constructed for county and religious uses almost immediately. The local Baptists, Congregationalists, and Universalists together pooled their funds together to erect this church building, which became known as Union Hall as they organized together to construct it. The design follows Gothic Revival principles with the lancet windows and crenelated tower cresting. The design features were later expanded into the larger Congregational church constructed years later when that group built their own church on a nearby site (featured in the last post). The “Union” did not last long as all the congregations built new structures. This building was vacant for years and was later converted to a Grange Hall and town meetings were held in the structure.
Cows, horses and pigs once dominated the 571-acre landscape of Scott Farm in Dummerston, VT. We have seen where the farmer, cows, and horses lived, so now it’s time to see where the pigs “pigged” out. This barn building was constructed around the time of the horse barn when the farm was owned by Frederick Holbrook II of Boston. The one-and-a-half-story pig barn, like the others, was built into the landscape which would allow for the animals to easily get into the structures. This building was used as the “Cider House” in the 1999 movie Cider House Rules.
Scott Farm, established as a working farm in the late 18th century and as a commercial apple orchard in 1911, is an excellent example of the vernacular architecture that Vermont is known for. The sprawling 571-acre farm was established in Dummerston in 1791 and purchased by Rufus Scott in the mid-1800s. In the 1840s, he built this farmhouse and many of the barn buildings soon after. The five bay Greek Revival house is in a Cape form and retains its historic slate roof and detailing. The property has been owned since 1995 by The Landmark Trust USA, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve historic properties through creative sustainable uses for public enjoyment and education. The farm sits a short drive to Naulakha and the Dutton Farmhouse (both featured previously) which are also managed by the Landmark Trust USA.
Oh covered bridges, one of the many symbols of New England that always give me joy when I see them! This beauty was constructed in 1872 to span the West River in Dummerston, Vermont and is the longest that is wholly within the State of Vermont. The bridge was designed by Caleb B. Lamson, a master carpenter and the bridge is the only known bridge built by Lamson that survives. Vermont is significant for covered bridges as about one hundred bridges still stand in the state, which is probably the greatest concentration by area of covered bridges in the nation. A reason we have to thank Vermont for this is purely population. With more people living in the state, transportation demands change, and these bridges are often replaced with modern steel structures. Keep doing you Vermont!
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.