Abandoned Vermont: Vergennes House

This striking 1796 Federal style house in Vergennes, Vermont is the General Samuel Strong House. It is a favorite mystery to many passersby. Unoccupied for decades, this house is more neglected than abandoned, but every Christmas season there is a fresh wreath on the door and the community keeps an eye on the house year round.

Christmas wreath on the front door.

Christmas wreath on the front door.

View from the sidewalk.

View from the sidewalk.

From the street.

From the street. In the foliage months, you can barely see the house.

The side entrance has been removed.

The side entrance has been removed.

Rear of the house, where a porch previously existed.

Rear of the house, where a porch previously existed.

Boarded up windows.

Boarded up windows, but check out the lintels.

Classic clapboard shot.

Classic clapboard shot with alligatoring paint.

And we are in luck. This house has been documented by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) in 1936. Find photographs and floor plans here via the Library of Congress. Here is the house in better days:

The Samuel Strong House in Vergennes as documented for HABS/Library of Congress. Click for digital source.

The Samuel Strong House in Vergennes as documented for HABS/Library of Congress. Click for digital source.

 What a beauty.


19 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Vergennes House

  1. Heidi Clawson says:

    I see that Gen Strong lived here while he and “Mcdonough” were building the fleet to fight on Lake Champlain during the days of the Revolution. Hope that someone will do more research about who he was, etc. Are we to gather that he did not stay in the area?

  2. John Hlumyk says:

    You might as well have labeled the HABS photo “Better days.” With the such history and the fact that that house is off-the-hook awesome, its actually rather shocking to see it in this state. Tragic.

  3. cassifish says:

    This is my dream house. I’m 100% serious. I’ve pictured this house for years but couldn’t figure out some details. This is exactly what I’ve always wanyed! Thank you! Though I’m so sad that the house has been allowed to fall apart like this. Its such a shame.

  4. Beth says:

    wow, stinging from the comment registering surprise that such awesome houses are found in Vermont.
    Some years ago, a fellow undertook documenting historic buildings in many towns in Vermont. I recall seeing the one of Castleton, Vermont, my hometown. They were little books, white with black and white photos of the buildings of interest, and close-ups of the details unique to each building. Very interesting,
    and not ‘shocking’ at all.

  5. Amanda says:

    Mystery solved! I lived a few houses down from this one as a child and still drive by several times a week. It’s still a beautiful house and I can’t help but imagine that inside it must be full of all the things the family left behind. Now that I have the name of the house I’m investigating the true story. I’ve always heard something about a suicide but I also heard a story about a carousel being on the property some where 🙂

  6. Seth DePasqual says:

    Kaitlin, Amanda,
    My first home was in Vergennes. I was an infant then (1975) but we lived down Main, closer to the dam. My dad and I actually got to talking recently about the Strong house. I didn’t know anything about it until a few days ago. Apparently my parents had a chance to purchase it around the time we lived there. I forgot the price, but it wasn’t exorbitant, but still outside their modest budget. I guess my Dad knew a guy that was taking care of the place for the owner, an older woman who was in a nursing home. I believe she was tied into the Webb family of Shelburne Farms lore. So my dad got a peek inside and said it was really cool back then. Great preservation. Heaps of period furniture and decor. But soon afterwards, some guy, maybe the present owner, purchased the place and took steps to have it rehabbed into a couple of apartments. Apparently the State refused to permit the project citing its historic significance. The owner grew resentful and let the place go to pot versus selling to anyone else. So the story goes. But clearly someone is neglecting the place and I’d wager that multiple offers have been made to no avail. Either way, it doesn’t look like much time is left. What an awful shame. I bet someone at Town Hall has a better scoop on the situation. Best of luck Vergennes! -Seth DePasqual, Isle Royale National Park

    • Rob says:

      I grew up a few houses away from the Wagstaff/Stong house. As a child Mrs.. Wagstaff would invite us (my sister and I) inside for tea parties. I remember how large the rooms were and how elegant Mrs. Wagstaff was. Many of our friends were very scared of her, as were we. As we got to know her, we realized she was just a lonely widow that wanted someone to talk to. I now live in the house where I grew up, my wife and I frequently walk by this old house and comment about what a grand old house this was and could be again. Sad

    • Leigh says:

      Hi Seth,
      Great story and you are absolutely correct. For many years the grandson of the woman you spoke about has had it and yes he has refused any offer made by historical preservation groups to let them purchase it and rehab it. Such a shame it is a very beautiful building.

  7. Lori says:

    Hi, I currently live next door to this house. I have met the gentleman that owns it. The plans he has expressed to me, was that he would love to restore it and has put work into it. We have lived next door for 4 years now and very rarely see him there and when he is there it is for short periods of time…just to “check on things”, to clear overgrown brush or maybe put a wreath on the front door. I had asked him if he would be interested in ever selling the place and at the time his answer was no. I have heard rumors that it was part of the Underground Railroad and there was an underground tunnel from the house leading to Otter Creek Basin, below the falls. Pretty cool!. I would love to know if there is any truth to it. I’ve also heard that much of the inside and foundation has collapsed that costs to fix or restore it would be astronomical. So very sad indeed.

  8. daphnecybeleDaphne says:

    Usually there is a fresh Christmas wreath on the door each December. In 2015 I drove by the Saturday on the weekend just before Christmas and looked for it. It was not there in the morning and then appeared that afternoon on the drive back home. This past Christmas, we drove up on Sunday the 18th and no wreath at all.

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