Abandoned Vermont: Windsor House

This is a different vein of Abandoned Vermont; this house in Windsor is not found down a dirt road or in a small, sleepy town. Instead, it is easily spotted from US Route 5, located within the Windsor Historic District.

Abandoned house in Windsor, VT.

While it is not exactly abandoned (it is bank owned, I believe), this poor house is boarded up, vacant, a victim of fire, and left for further demolition by neglect – it seems. It has seen better days, obviously – days filled with historic integrity. Now it would probably be determined to be a non-contributing structure in the historic district.

Asphalt brick siding, asphalt shingle roof, replacement windows all contribute to a loss of integrity.

While loss of integrity to one building is a worthwhile discussion, there is a more important issue relating  to this house. What greater effect will the loss of integrity have on the character of the historic district?

What is the best option? Complete restoration of a historic structure? This isn’t a house (in my opinion) that someone will look at, love immediately and dream of restoring. Of course, that is not to say that a determined visionary could not take on the project. And who knows, removing that fake brick siding could help give the building a new face. Some buildings have the luxury of being loved, even in their most deteriorated states, but often such simple vernacular structures are not as fortunate. If it is determined to be a non-contributing structure, would demolition and sympathetic infill be the best option?

This house probably had a slate roof in its prime.

What was anyone ever thinking? Asphalt shingles made to look like brick? I have never seen this look good on a building.

Does this house stand a better chance of a second life because it is in a historic district of a larger town? Or is it more at risk for demolition? What do you think?

I can see it going either way. Rescuing and restoring a house in a historic district seems to have a better potential for property values. However, the property may be worth more than the structure as-is. Not knowing the state of the house interior, it is could be too far gone for someone to want to tackle.

Due to the loss of integrity, this could be a situation in which loss of a now non-contributing structure will not affect the historic district, but what goes in its place can have a positive or negative effect.

How often do you come across similar abandoned structures? What do you think about the fate of this building and the impacts to the historic district?

17 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Windsor House

    • Kaitlin says:

      Yes, it certainly does, especially considering its neighborhood. Sadly, the house looks better from the front than the other elevations, which show significant damage.

  1. Ryan MacLeay says:

    Hello, I have been fascinated by this house since I was a little kid. When I was about 7, my parents and I would often go to the Windsor Diner. I would always watch for the house, wondering what was inside, and why it was abandoned. There used to be two other houses next to this house, but they were torn down a few years ago. I hated to see them go. I then decided that I was going to restore it when I grew up. Little did I know how many more houses there were like this that also needed to be restored.

    Some history of the house:

    This house, along with the two other houses next to it, were all built in 1889. It did originally have a slate roof.
    My Grandfather did oil work here in the 1940s after he was discharged from WWII. It was a well built house in it’s day.
    All three of these houses are Brownfields sites. They suffered soil contamination, and all three have had hazardous waste removed. That could be the reason they were abandoned.
    The other two houses were torn down around 2006-07.

    I did get to look in the window of this house once. It was In pretty good shape. All the furniture was there, even the pictures were still hanging on the wall…

    I hope that this house will eventually be restored to its former glory.

    Hope I helped,
    Ryan MacLeay

    • Kaitlin says:

      Ryan, Thank you for sharing. I love when readers can offer information about properties. Although you didn’t get this house like you imagined as a child, I hope you found another house to restore. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this one.

  2. home, garden, life says:

    One can adore, photograph, dream about abandonded buildings/barns. I know I do. My blog is filled with aging barns, ancient stone walls, and dreamy landscapes, often photographed from the back of a fine quarter horse.

    The reality of saving these buildings is the expense. And will they have a renewed purpose if restored? US Farming has taken a real hit in the last century and these fine structures no longer have purpose. Too bad so many things in life come down to the almighty dollar! Therefore I do my part and document via photography these beauties that one day will be no more.

    Question is, will blogs be around for posterity?

    • Kaitlin says:

      Ah, the eternal digital posterity question. I have no idea, but I wonder the same thing.

      As for barns and agricultural buildings, they are often a challenge to rehabilitate and/or adapt to new uses. It takes a creative mind. I’ve seen some become commercial business locations, houses, or event halls.

  3. Patty Hammond says:

    This is the house I grew up in. So much character within the 27 rooms, (before the fire). I wish they would restore it. It would be beautiful!

  4. Mark says:

    My sister and brother-in-law owned that house for many years. Prior to that, his father and mother owned it. My sister and her husband sold it when they moved to Claremont several years ago. My mother, sister, and 2 of my brothers and I lived in the upstairs apartment. I absolutely love the house. I used to think it was haunted when I lived there. The upstairs had a very long, narrow hallway outside my bedroom. It was scary as a kid. There was a third floor that was mainly used as a storage area. I have had dreams about going back into the house as if I’m looking for something. It has always been an intriguing place for me. I would LOVE to be able to afford buying and restoring it. It’s sad that it has just sat there. There were rumors that someone wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast but that never materialized. We used to play ball in the front yard, listen to Red Sox games on the radio with the elderly tenants that lived in the 2 attached apartments, play hide and seek at night. It was a great place and I have a lot of great memories of that house. I wish there were a way that I could restore it and keep it alive.

  5. Tracey Vittoriano (Buchanan) says:

    This is the house where I grew up in. My family and I moved there when I was very young! Lots of great memories in that home! Family get togethers and Christmas’s there were wonderful memories! I do not want to see this house demolished but restored to it’s natural beauty! The back of the house had 2 apartments at one time but were destroyed by a fire many years ago!

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Mark, this house was recently owned by Rockingham Area Community Land Trust, and was recently transferred to the Windsor Improvement Corporation, along with the neighboring vacant lots. I hate to say it, but the house is going to be demolished this spring. It is going to be replaced with a parking lot. Before it is torn down, there is going to be a big asbestos removal project. It makes me sad to see it torn down.

        • Ryan says:

          Hi Kaitlin,
          I agree with you, a parking lot replacing this house is no improvement. Apparently, the town of Windsor has been wanting to redevelop the area behind the Windsor Diner for years. The other two houses next door were demolished in 2007, and the only thing left standing in their way now is the last house. The plan is to spend $400k on removing the asbestos materials, demolishing the house, and adding 17 parking spaces. They then plan to sell the neighboring vacant lots as building lots for redevelopment. They think that by doing this, it will help bring life back to downtown Windsor.

          I hate their plan. If they were willing to put in some effort, they could remove the burned out addition, and fix the rest of the house, and turn it into a public building, such as a library. I wish everybody could see the potential that I see it having.

  6. Marianne A. Blake says:

    The house had to undergo review by an architectural historian from the Vermont Dept. of Historical Preservation before it could be demolished. Unfortunately, vandals cruelly destroyed the beautiful woodwork that was still in place. Punched holes in walls, etc. It was deemed beyond any meaningful restoration. It’s demolition will provide a safer access to the 2 buildings next to it, and additional parking. The other lots are NOT going to be sold to develop. They will be part of the parking lot.
    I grew up in one of the houses near it that was demolished. I remember the house when the Kittredges owned it.

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