Abandoned Vermont: Taplin School

This historic building appeared abandoned from the road; yet it always appeared to be kept up with some amount of care. The weathered gray clapboards, locked door, solid windows without broken panes and mowed lawn showed that someone used it recently.

Taplin School. It looks lonely, right?

It certainly could use a new coat of paint.

Old hardware on the front door.

At first, I couldn’t decipher exactly what it is. It has an institutional or civic look to it – something that isn’t quite residential.

It doesn't quite look like a school from here, either.

I peaked in the front windows, both of which appeared to have closets. I walked around back and saw the tell-tale sign of a schoolhouse.

The bank of windows, although the tree line is awfully close. It was obvious that this hadn't been a school for decades. I had never seen a schoolhouse with windows in the rear. Maybe this bank of windows was added when the school was modernized.

The building was empty inside, though I did notice a giant hole in the roof, debris on the floor and a damaged floor. Poor little schoolhouse.

Debris from the hole in the roof can be seen on the floor. The outline of a former chalkboard can be seen on the left - another sign of the schoolhouse!

You can see part of the roof damage on the eave.

Fortunately, I was able to find out the history of this building by looking in the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation files. It was built in the 1860s, modernized in the early 1900s to be a “Superior School” and operated as a school until the 1960s. The Division recorded the structure in 1976, and Green Mountain Power Company has owned the property at least since then. So, you could say that this building isn’t abandoned, but it certainly is neglected. And it needs a new roof! (Don’t worry, I’ve contacted the right people to inform them of the building’s condition.) Let’s hope it gets one before snow flies, because a hole in the roof can destroy an otherwise sound building.


6 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Taplin School

  1. LaLuce Mitchell says:

    It’s lovely! Any idea what’s on the second floor? Is it just an unfinished attic space or would there be a sleeping loft for the teacher or something like that? Would the little lean-to side wing be the bathroom? I love that you keep finding these old schoolhouses. It seems, from what I’ve seen on your blog (never been to Vermont) that there are a lot of them remaining in Vermont. Why do so many survive there and so few elsewhere?

    • Kaitlin says:

      I was wondering about the second floor myself. I think it is just unfinished space, because I couldn’t figure out where the stairs would be. The bathrooms were on either side of the doors, in the little vestibule and cloak areas – as best as I could figure out.

      I love schoolhouses — I hadn’t realized that I’d been posting about them so much! Yes, they are rather easy to find. Many have been converted to other uses, but of course I find the abandoned ones most intriguing. I do not know how many survive, but I am working on finding out. Without having any evidence to back it up, maybe so many survive because small schools operated recently. Vermonters tend to save everything and reuse what they can – yankee ingenuity. There are many small school in Vermont, still.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. mandible|photography says:

    I know of two small school houses in East Montpelier alone – one is still in use, nestled in the nook of where the land of three farms meet, and just down the road from the current elementary school. I used it as a child for girlscouts. The other one is closer to the high school, but has been converted to a residence. As you said – both are very recognizable because of their windows. In Barre/Williamstown/Orange, there are also a plethora of old “one rooms”, some abandoned and some converted. There are so many in central Vermont.
    Awesome post!

  3. Susan Klein, executive director Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce says:

    The roof has been repaired by GMP. The Mad River Byway committee of the Mad River Valley have been in negotiations for quite some time (making great progress) to utilize the Taplin school as an interpretive center for the Byway. Plans include a parking/picnicking area, a wheelchair accessible area, a modest playground with “period” fun like swings and tire swing. Natural plantings of period-appropriate flowering plants and shrubs; There would be a series of interpretive panels telling the history of the building, of hydropower (adjoining GMP use) for travelers. The schoolhouse itself would be restored by the local historical society integrating local school groups to learn about how schools used to be, as well as to learn about local history.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Susan, thank you for the update. I have heard of good things coming for the Taplin School. Sounds like a wonderful community & preservation success story. Congratulations! I can’t wait to see it.

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