Abandoned Vermont: Weathersfield House

This house is located in Weathersfield and is a curious case. I don’t know the story of this house but surrounding properties are in good condition and inhabited. This house appears to have been lived in within the past few years. When I see a house like this, I generally assume that the owners could not longer afford the upkeep and just left or an older person passed away and the family does not know what to do with the property.

As seen from the road. It is quite the large house.

The front entrance. Note the door surround with sidelights and a transom, weathered clapboards, wood windows beneath the aluminum storms, brick foundation and stone steps.

Peeking through the sidelights shows the worn staircase, banister and decorative newel post, wallpapered walls at the landing, and a light fixture in the top left of this image.

This is an interesting house, as all of the windows appear to be recently painted and well maintained, as if the house were recently occupied.

The gutters and drains remain attached.

The side of the house looking to the rear shows a less maintained facade. A wing has been removed and the ell in the forefront shows signs of deterioration.

Barns adjacent to the house that are occupied and maintained.

The rear of the house with the same well maintained windows (for the most part) and the deteriorating ell (look to the left).

Would anyone like to guess a date of construction? How about the architectural style?  Update: My quick guesses were a bit off. See Ann’s comment below for the history and construction date. And note that the house is in foreclosure (therefore, in need of an owner!).

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24 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Weathersfield House

  1. JP says:

    For the unpainted part, I’d probably put it in the late 1700s, with the rest being built sometime in the early 19th century. Stylistically it’s probably some sort of Georgian.

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  2. Jane Griswold Radocchia says:

    some thoughts about dates: newel post may be later than house – it is fat! which makes me think late 1820’s. Or it could be a local variation. The balusters are round, not squares – a level of sophistication there.
    The proportions of the facade of the house is very typical of those built around Boston c. 1790 – 2 windows close together on each side. (They used the Golden Section.) The frieze board, skirt board, eaves, and the front door architrave are also from that period. It is possible someone built later, remembering what was back home. I would have to know more about Wetherfield’s settlement patterns.
    The 12/12 windows in the wing could have been reused… the roof line in 1870 would have had no returns – I cannot see the eaves well enough to tell.
    The house is so close to the road it would have been used as an inn or a way station for drivers taking animals to market. In that case the wing was for people, not work like dairying or weaving.
    I can’t really tell where the chimneys are. Their position might give some clue to age. The one on the wing is late, 1950’s +

    • Kaitlin says:

      Great analysis, Jane. I typically place VT architecture a bit later than the national trends, though I only tossed the date out there for discussion. I agree, the wing is much later. The chimneys are on the slope of the hipped roof, so interior rather than interior end. I should have taken a better front facade photograph – next time I pass by, I’ll do that.

      I understand the guess of use as an inn or way station, but I find most houses in Vermont are close to the road, so I’m not completely convinced. When I find more information, I’ll let you know.

  3. Mark says:

    The main house is older than 1860-1870, I would think, but maybe not much older. The newel post seems to be a melding of two time periods – an earlier colonial period and early Victorian. The very top of the post is small and indicative of being older(shaped like an M&M), while the lower part bulges out. The hipped roof and general massing seems to signify a 19th c. house, but I’m no expert on early Vt. architecture.

    The ell is ridiculously long, and is itself comprised of two different parts (possibly). The window configuration would suggest that. There’s also a divider board on the back of the ell, though I’m not sure what that really signifies. The exposed boards beneath the clapboards suggest something that’s not too old. In many older properties the underboards can be exrtremely wide. I know of one sinle-story house where the front has just 3 underboards, each of them 32-36 inches wide. The ones in this picture seem more modern and uniform.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Great points, Mark. Thanks for sharing. Yes, I’d agree that the ell is newer than the main house, and quite possibly two combined (hence the two doors) and probably the divider on the back of the house that you mentioned.

      I appreciate the newel post thoughts — decorative elements are not my speciality.

      When I find more info, I’ll share. I couldn’t find this house in the state records last time I looked, but I’ll give it another go.

  4. Ann Cousins says:

    This is the Elias Lyman House, built in 1779, and is listed on the State Historic Sites and Structures Survey as part of the Weathersfield Bow Historic District. It is Georgian style, originally with a hip roof and central chimney. The house was built by Elias Lyman and operated as a tavern and inn to accommodate passengers on Ashley’s Ferry, a main entry point from NH across the Connecticut River. The property was owned by Joseph Danforth from 1790 and Joseph Danforth, Jr. from 1818 to 1853. The property is sadly in foreclosure. I contacted Bank of America’s foreclosure agent to communicate our concerns for the property, and I also spoke with the owner’s brother to get permission to go look at the house. The inquiries were in response to a rumor that the house was threatened with demolition. Rather, it turned out, Bank of America planned to demolish an attached barn that had collapsed on the north end of the house. You can see the barn’s foundation in one of the photos. This is a very important Vermont property! The owner is in a nursing home after suffering a stroke. Prior to having health problems, the owner worked hard to rehabilitate the barns behind the house and worked on the house itself, including conserving the windows. It would be great to find a new owner to carry on the stewardship of this beautiful property!

    • Kaitlin says:

      Thank you, Ann, for the thorough history lesson! What a sad story; it did look like someone had recently worked on the house and cared for it. Thankfully the house still looks to be in good shape and can wait a bit for a new owner. Sending good vibes its way.

      I guess I was a bit off on my guesses — that’s what I get for a quick thought, though it led to good conversation. With its original central chimney, the style would have been more obvious to me. Lesson learned. Thanks for the clarification. Now to find that state register book.

  5. Paula Sagerman says:

    What an incredible place! I hope it can be saved. If the main block does indeed date to the late 18th century, it looks like it was updated during the Greek Revival period — doorway enframement, newel post, 6/6 windows….

    • Kaitlin says:

      Hi Paula, I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees Greek Revival in this house. Thanks! A good thought – updates during that period, of course.

    • Mark says:

      Good points Paula. And that’s what made me think it was not 18th c.. To me, it looked early-mid 19th, and I also wondered if certain elements of the house had been modified. e.g.: that newel post doesn’t look like any I’ve ever seen from the 1770’s.

  6. Jane Griswold Radocchia says:

    yes, I kept coming back to look at that newel post! maybe Colonial Revival, early 20th C.?

    Houses are regularly updated when a new wife comes in or the property changes ownership. Front entrances are often made more fashionable.

    Center chimneys which would date a house in southern NE or along the seacoast as far as Portland, Me., to before 1760 are present here much later. People built what they remembered and, perhaps, what was easiest –

    I hope it finds a new owner!

  7. Feng Shui By Fishgirl says:

    I can imagine it in all its glory. I wonder if there is any residual spirit energy (ghosts!) since it has such a long history and whenever an inn is involved you have many people passing through etc. Being so close to the road makes this beautiful property undesirable for a second summer home but perfect for a gallery/artist studio or other seasonal business like its original use as an inn. We’ve been looking at spaces like this but in order to survive one has to be in a well-traveled area and Weathersfield is just too far north of “the action” in tourist season. I’d bet someone could pick it up for an incredible bargain price due to the foreclosure situation and the banks being way overloaded with properties they don’t want or need.

  8. Feng Shui By Fishgirl says:

    Reblogged this on Feng Shui By Fishgirl and commented:
    OPPORTUNITY! Historic property in Vermont is a DIY fixer upper that would be remarkable if restored to its original beauty. It’s in foreclosure, was a former inn, This is the Elias Lyman House, built in 1779, and is listed on the State Historic Sites and Structures Survey as part of the Weathersfield Bow Historic District. Check out the “Preservation in Pink” blog for lots of fun preservation conversation.

  9. Esther Lyman Clarke says:

    I do have a thought to share. The Elias Lyman mentioned above was probably the uncle of my great-great-great grandfather, Gideon Lyman, b 1758 in Northfield, Massachusetts, d 1824 in Lymanville, Pennsylvania. As a young adult, Gideon relocated to Weathersfield. According to the Lyman Geneology by Lyman Coleman, Gideon “went to live in Vermont about 1780 at the foot of Mt. Ascutney in Weathersfield on land given to him by his uncle.” According to Ann Cousins, as stated in a note above, local tradition holds that Elias Lyman erected the oldest section of this house in 1779 (but our family records say that Gideon built this house at that time). According to the Weathersfield Century One, this building, known as the Lyman Tavern, “was the first two-story frame building in Weathersfield,” serving as “a tavern, a store, and the first post office between Rockingham and Windsor.” It was Gideon (as I said, according to our family records) who first leased the tavern to Joseph Danforth, selling it to him in 1801. In 1803 Gideon, then 45 years old, removed with his wife Dolly and their eleven children from Weathersfield to the wilderness that is now Lymanville, Pennsylvania. I hope some way has been found to preserve the old tavern. I would love to visit it some day.

  10. Tins says:

    I don’t know what came of this. I had seen it for sale and it was taken off the market but I don’t know if it was purchased or not! I hope it was!

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