A very rare example of a snecked ashlar church, the South Reading Union Meeting House in Reading, Vermont remains in a great state of preservation, and a testament to innovative building styles seen in rural parts of New England. Built in 1844, the stone church was built by local stone masons based on the unique regional stone construction method. The church features a triangular stone in the facade which shows its construction date. There is something so stunning about stone churches..
In the early 1830s, skilled masons from Scotland and Ireland came to central Vermont to work on building projects. A number of these workers, mainly from the Aberdeen area, and specialized in a specific building style in which plates of stone are affixed to a rubblestone wall. This method of bonding stonework is so prevalent in Scotland and
Ireland it has been referred to in some journals as ‘Celtic Bond’, but in Vermont, it is known as “snecked ashlar”. The mixture of stone sizes and colors produces a strong bond and an attractive finish. This home is a rare example in the state, which is estimated to have about 50 of these homes left. I could not locate any information on the owners of the home, but the house has seen better days, with the wooden front porch shifting away from the main house. Also, if you look closely, you can see the original wood shingle roofing breathing under the sheet metal roof!
The Reading Town Hall in Reading, Vermont is an imposing shingle-clad, gambrel roof building which sits in the village of Felchville. The hall was built in 1911 as a gift to the citizens of Reading by Wallace F. Robinson. Wallace Robinson was born in Reading in 1832. He went to Boston as a young man and entered into the provisions (groceries) market, and became quite successful, expanding into the wholesale provisions business and meat packing. He was active in civic and business affairs of Boston, most notably as the President of the Boston Chamber of Commerce and as a State Representative in the Legislature for two terms. By around 1900, Robinson had retired and had taken up a life of philanthropy, spending much of his wealth on memorial buildings and to places that had a lasting impact on him, including Robinson Hall at Dartmouth College and renovations at UVM. The design for the Reading Town Hall is especially notable for the fact that it was designed to resemble historic gambrel roofed barns found in the state.
The quaint town of Pomfret, Vermont sees flocks of “leaf-peepers” and Instagrammers every Fall who are in awe of the natural scenery and historic farms seen there. The town was first settled in 1770 when Bartholomew Durkee travelled from Pomfret, Connecticut, along with his family and friends and named the town “New Pomfret” at first to show their roots in Connecticut. The tiny town grew to its peak population in 1830 at just under 1,900 residents, declining steadily over time to roughly 900 today, greatly adding to the rural character of the town.
In Pomfret Center, the local Congregationalists sought a new place of worship and had this structure constructed as their church in 1845. Local builder Eli Buch constructed the Greek Revival edifice with its projecting portico, doric columns, and corner pilasters. As nearby Woodstock Vermont grew, many families moved there and the church sold their building to the Town of Pomfret in 1872 and the building has since been used as Pomfret’s Town Hall.