Abandoned Vermont: Wheelock Schoolhouse

While traveling the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, a few friends and I came across a deteriorated concrete bridge. I have a newfound adoration for concrete bridges so we paused to look at it. When we turned to the side we saw an abandoned building that looked partially like a general store and partially like a school. It was boarded up so we couldn’t see much, but it was (of course) fascinating.

Small concrete bridges are all over backroads of Vermont. This one dates to 1934.

Unfortunately, this is what happens to concrete bridges that are not maintained. Another sad story for another post...

Located at the crossroads - a logical location. Interesting additions, yes?

It’s hard to figure out the history of the building without stepping inside, but I have some guesses. The front gable has “1924” in the peak, so that makes sense for a school (see the window picture, too). I peaked in where I could (without trespassing, fyi) and it seems like this was most recently a residence. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it served as some sort of store, too.

Another view of the front.

See where it is boarded up? The long line of windows always indicated a 1920s/30s schoolhouse, when light and more sanitary buildings were very important in education reform. Usually there are at least 4 windows (judging by what I've seen so far - sometimes 6 or 7). This one has 5 windows.

A mattress frame, a window in front of a window. What gets left behind in abandoned buildings in often puzzling.

Layers of siding. Also, the rear addition (beginning on the right) was just abutting the front building, barely attached at all.

Often, the worst part about abandoned buildings is the feeling that they will be abandoned forever and eventually fall. What stories lie in this building, just sitting lonely on a dirt road in the Northeast Kingdom.



Townshend, Vermont: Twitchell House Antiques

I haven’t always been fond of antique stores. They were more exciting than the garage sales I visited with my mom and sisters when we were younger, but mostly I remember shopping in the antique stores of Fredericksburg, VA during college and finding every excursion to be exhausting. Something about them made me just plain tired. So I avoided antique stores for a while. Even now, I tend to be selective about which antique stores I’ll visit: too often they are overpriced and too organized and catering to the wealthy tourists.

Since living in Vermont, I have found a few that I like to frequent and I’ve browsed a few noteworthy shops on my travels. In June Vinny and I were traveling around southeastern Vermont and we stopped at Twitchell House Antiques in Townshend, VT. I had passed by this a few times while conducting the barn census in Townshend during grad school, and made a mental note to stop in someday. Mostly the large historic house and barn with antiques scattered across the front lawn always caught my eye.

The stop was worth it (though finding a parking spot wasn’t easy). From lawn furniture to a tourist home sign to a barn full of chairs, there was so much to look at — and that was only on the outside. Inside, the house itself impressed me more than the stuff in it, though I do enjoy looking at old furniture and kitchen goods. But, the house – oh, how beautiful. Everything was original.  Many of the walls were covered with old wallpaper or painted plaster (I couldn’t decide).

Twitchell House

On the front lawn. Of course I loved this.


Barns full of architectural salvage items and chairs.

Neat shutters, found in one of the barns.

Interior walls of the house.

Art for sale - leaning on a chair rail.

The owners of the house are incredibly friendly. We talked for a while and they got into the business because they love to buy antiques and had too many – like so many antique dealers. A friend and colleague of mine (hi, Brennan!), who is very knowledgeable about antiques told me that antique dealers of this breed (those who own a large historic house and sell from it) are becoming more rare, as it is just too expensive. Most antique dealers have booths in larger stores. These owners are hoping to sell everything and move on, as the business is never ending. The owner told us that all prices were suggestions and to make an offer on anything we liked! If you are in the market for antiques, head down to Townshend. Or just stop in to check out the building.

Hardwick Stove Company

Some of the best things about historic houses are the antique appliances and lighting fixtures and bathroom fixtures… assuming that they operate safely and effectively. Our new (old) abode boasts such features, but right now my fixation is on the kitchen stove.

Gas and wood (or coal?) stove by Hardwick Stove Company.

It is made by the Hardwick Stove Company, but that is all I know. The house dates to the late 1920s. Looking at this picture: the right side has four gas burners, an oven, and a broiler at the bottom. The left side has a large compartment for wood (or coal?) with warming plates on the top. There is a Robertshaw temperature control on the exterior. The entire stove is cast iron. The hood does not go with the stove.

Does anyone know how to find a particular model name or number? I want to date it to the late 1920s/early 1930s, but that’s just a guess. Has anyone restored such a stove before? Is it safe? Is it expensive? My online searching has not been fruitful yet, and the Hardwick Stove Company is not mentioned often.

Can anyone pass along information about the Hardwick Stove Company? So far, I have found a bit of history from rekitchen.com:

A brand name that is now owned by the Maytag Corporation, Hardwick was once a company that produced wood cooking appliances and later gas and electric stoves for residential use. Hardwick stoves are no longer produced, but used or antique versions are still sold by individuals and specialty companies.

Hardwick’s History

The Hardwick Stove Company was started by Bradley Hardwick in Cleveland, in the late 19th century as a manufacturer of cast iron stoves. Control of the company stayed in the family, passing to Bradley’s son Joseph, who in turn passed it down to his son C.L. C.L. maintained control for the rest of his life.

During World War II, the company switched its production from stoves to airplane parts. In 1945, it resumed its production of stoves, with a new process of quality control. The next decade brought changes, as they began to manufacture electric stoves, as well. The company was finally acquired by Maytag in 1981, which later combined it with several other brands to form Maytag Cleveland Cooking Products.

I’d really like to find information about particular Hardwick models, as well as learn of successful stove restorations. Any help is much appreciated!

Preservation Photos #93

A house in East Burke, VT. I'd call it Greek Revival in the transition stage to Queen Anne - Greek Revival for the door and window surrounds. Queen Anne for the vergeboard and 6/1 windows. Anyone else?

Mr. Stilts Goes to Disney World

While in Florida, I figured it quite appropriate to tote around Mr. Stilts (Florida = flamingos, yes? and Disney World = I can be a kid, right?). I managed to get the entire family in on taking pictures of Mr. Stilts throughout the Disney parks. Here are some of the highlights.

At the Contemporary Hotel, one of the original Disney World hotels.

Waiting for the monorail that stops inside the Contemporary hotel.

At the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

In front of the Hollywood Tower of Tower ride - the best ride in the world - at Disney's Hollywood Studios (MGM).

Hanging out in the fountain with the Muppet characters.

Hilarious. In the Muppet store.

Playing miniature golf.

Running (pardon the blurriness) through a crazy Florida storm after mini golf.

One of the best things about Disney hotels? The animal towel creations.

After the Splash Mountain ride in Magic Kingdom. Flamingo & coffee - awesome.

Donald Duck and Mr. Stilts -- Donald must have thought I was crazy.

And there you have it. Quite the vacation for the little guy. So much so that his leg fell off. We were all strolling through Disney Studios one afternoon and all of a sudden his leg was on the ground; it seemed to slip right out of his body! Fortunately, we had a small sewing kit in the hotel room and I was able to perform emergency surgery. Don’t worry: in middle school, I took home economics (called “Home & Careers” at that time) and one of my projects was sewing a stuffed animal (a duck, if you’re wondering) by hand. I had faith in my ability to sew a few stitches.

Yikes! And this was only day one!

This one looks more drastic.

Thank goodness for pink thread!

And after a few stitches, Mr. Stilts was good as new to continue trekking around Disney World.

Outside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Flying over the boardwalk.

Where will Mr. Stilts go next?!

Walt Disney World

Preservationists, what do you think of Walt Disney World (or Land, if that’s your part of country)? I know preservationists who absolutely love Disney and I know some who cannot stand it. So it’s probably irrelevant to the profession, however, too often the “Mickey Mouse-ing” of history is used as a negative connotation; i.e.: meaning something is too perfect or too fake or too clean or just not an accurate depiction of history.

But, I wonder what it is about Disney World/Land that people do not like? I was just there with my in-laws and yes, it’s hot in July (of course it’s currently hot everywhere, including Vermont) and Disney World is it own place – its own world, if you will. However, if you consider the history of Walt Disney, the man, and Walt Disney, the theme parks, it has the purest of intentions to be a joyful place for parents and children and all ages alike. The biography of Walt Disney is inspiring and a true American story. As an adult, it is interesting to understand the context of the Disney’s history and how the man and the theme parks correlate. Upholding Disney’s legacy seems to be an important mission of the Walt Disney company. In Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) you can visit a gallery/museum of Walt’s life and watch a short film about him. I’d bet that a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco would be fascinating. Certainly, the life of Walt Disney affected the entire world.

Why mention Disney on Preservation in Pink (other than for the tens of photos I took of Mr. Stilts, the little flamingo, throughout the parks)?  Mostly, I don’t think it’s fair to call something that we find too perfect to be “Mickey Mouse history.” Do people go to Disney expecting to learn about history? Disney World does not represent everything about American culture or American history. It is perfect in Disney because it is an escape from reality. It is living in a world of imagination for a day or a week or however long you visit. It’s like walking into a land of nostalgia. And as we all know, nostalgia is always pretty and always perfect and just the type of place we’d like to stay for a while. The depth of detail throughout the entire park and on all of the rides and attractions is astounding. To me, that is what is so great about Disney. The “imagineers” think of everything and everywhere you look, everything is done for a reason. (Of course marketing plays a large role and Disney is good at it.)

Mr. Stilts overlooking the boardwalk at Disney World with EPCOT in the background. Many more pictures to follow!

My point? Let’s take “Mickey Mouse” out of the conversation when talking about historical accuracy. After all, the buildings in the Magic Kingdom of Disney World are constructed on forced perspective, where the upper stories are all smaller than the story below it. The buildings are creating a nostalgic illusion. Mickey Mouse and Disney World are completely different from a history museum or a reconstruction. The former aims for a land of pretend and imagination whereas the latter aims for telling an accurate story. Do you see what I mean? What do you think?

More pictures of Mr. Stilts in Disney will be on the blog next week. Stay tuned!


Pro Preservation Advertisement

These ads are all over the Dulles International Airport. They made my night! How cool is this to see in a public space? Love it.


Traveling in Style

Check out Mr. Stilts traveling in style. Lots of pictures of his travels are coming soon. Preservation in Pink will return tomorrow.


Woodford Playground

This awesome, metal playground was found on our travels as we passed through Woodford, Vermont. We had to stop to take some photographs (and possibly play on the playground, too). It had four main pieces of equipment: swings, a spider web (see below) and two larger climbing apparatuses (jungle gyms is what I call them).

Woodford Hollow Elementary School.

Did anyone else call these things spiderwebs? My elementary school had a multicolored one; I seldom see these spiderwebs around anymore. See the swings and one of the jungle gyms in the background.

This is the apparatus on the right in the photo above. My elementary school had something very similar to this. 1960s perhaps?

This apparatus is to the left of the swings and opposite the other apparatus. More of the awesome playground equipment. What fun to climb it as a kid!

Tetherball too!

And an action shot of tetherball. That must have been the most dangerous thing to play with on that playground, but it was fun!

The Difficult Part of Regulatory Review

As mentioned before, I love the regulatory world of historic preservation. I love working for the Agency of Transportation and having the opportunity to see historic preservation affect everyone and every place. It is exciting and practical and challenging.

Interpreting the legal language and implications of Section 106 and Section 4(f) can seem like a puzzle, but it gets easier and makes more sense with practice and experience. However, I have found that the most difficult part of interpreting and applying preservation law is realizing that the laws cannot help everything. What do I mean? Well, if a property is not historic or a Section 4(f) resource such as a park or a wildlife/waterfowl refuge, then the preservation laws have no control over the direction of the project. Other reviews, such as those pertaining to natural or biological resources or storm water control may still apply regulations, if the situation warrants it. Legally, that makes sense. And in terms of historic preservation, it makes sense.

But, every so often, I think about a project that doesn’t make sense, whether it’s in the media or something that I know of from experience, and I wish that there was a law to stop or fix the project. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that ineligible (for the National Register) houses and neighborhoods are not protected by preservation laws. After all, people live everywhere! Don’t all existing buildings deserve some sort of chance, under somebody’s law? Shouldn’t an existing, new building be exempt from demolition because of embodied energy? Where in the project review line will something like this be addressed?

This particular desire to protect everything, no matter what sort of resource, probably dates back to my Mary Washington days, when the flamingos and I first declared that we could save the world through our historic preservation efforts. It still keeps us going.

Well, everything cannot be and is not historic. Obviously, one law cannot control or have a say over every aspect of every project — that sounds a bit too power crazed; but when you spend your days looking at projects and determining what is eligible for protection and what is not, it’s hard to ignore everything else. When that happens, it is important to remember that historic preservation review is only a small part of the review process. My job is historic preservation compliance, and that is important to remember. The best way to solve this dilemma is to keep a good working relationship with colleagues in order to understand the entire scope of the project, as well as its purpose and need, and the project review process. Luckily, I’m learning this day by day: how review functions, when to question the process and when I need to better understand the process.

Readers, what do you find most difficult about your job?