Abandoned Vermont: Hubbardton Church

The shore of Lake Bomoseen is a popular summer camp area in Vermont. Up here, “summer camp” is like “summer cottage” or “beach house” as opposed to kids’ “summer camp”. The terminology threw me at first, since I grew up on the ocean, not a lake. Historic districts and houses line Vermont Route 30 (sitting practically on the road in some places!) and winding roads around the lake. This 1925 church appears on the map as the Hubbardton Congregational Church, but a lack of signage and unsuccessful searching gives me few answers to its fate. The church appears to be used as only storage.

View from the across the street.

View from the across the street. You can see how close it sits on the highway.

Beautiful Queen Anne windows.

Beautiful Queen Anne windows that remain in good condition.

Belfry.

Belfry.

Boarded up and not in use.

Boarded up and not in use, this is the front entrance.

Absestos siding covers shingles underneath, which would be more fitting for its Queen Anne details.

Asbestos siding covers shingles underneath, which would be more fitting for its Queen Anne details.

South elevation. View from the grass parking area.

South elevation. View from the grass parking area.

This side of the roof is in need of repair.

This side of the roof is in need of repair.

North elevation.

North elevation.

I could only see in the window by holding the camera above my head.

I could only see in the window by holding the camera above my head.

Rural Vermont is filled with small, wood-frame white churches. While some remain in service and others have been converted to alternative uses, there are many with the same fate as this Hubbardton Church. How can we help these buildings? Those of you in rural areas, what solutions have you seen?

Click images for larger files and to zoom in. 

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13 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Hubbardton Church

  1. swo8 says:

    We have a few old churches here in Ontario Canada. They are usually made of brick because of our winters. I bet it was a hub of activity in its day.
    Leslie

  2. Lauren Giannullo says:

    Ah! So glad you profiled this beauty. Like you, I grew up at the beach (NJ) and I was similarly confused when I heard people calling the place I went in the summer a ‘camp’! My grandparents’ house (which is now my parents’) on Lake Bomoseen is near this church – we used to attend services here when I was a little kid. The things I remember most are the real candles that were used all over the church and the amazing acoustics – I never remember instruments being played, but singing sounded beautiful in here. I wish I could better say when it was abandoned, but my best guess is roughly 20 years ago. At that point we began heading into Castleton to St. John the Baptist for Sunday mass.

    I’m no longer a church-goer but I love the simplicity and beauty of these wooden churches. Every time I drive past this church I wonder what it could be. Where the pews have gone (maybe to auction)? How long will the roof hold out without any attention? I know of one twenty-something who grew up spending her summers on the lake who would give anything to be able to get married here one day. Maybe an event space is this resource’s future incarnation – a place for everything from town meetings to small concerts to even wedding receptions.

    Thanks again for this post! I’ll look upon this church anew when I am visiting next weekend.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Lauren, thanks for the memories! Lovely! Route 30 has signs that read “Summer Camp” and it still confuses me… it probably always will. Glad I’m not the only one.

      An event space that the community can get behind sounds like a great idea. If it’s only used in summer, maybe they wouldn’t even need heating. Let me know of any news.

  3. Jen says:

    Pretty place, especially the interior! I, too, love old wooden churches such as this one.

    I’ve seen more than one church turned into a home (there is, in fact, one—albeit brick and not as charming as this—not far from here). There’s also a rather grander old church in downtown that has been turned into a very popular restaurant & nightspot, occasionally hosting concerts, if I recall correctly. I see no reason this can’t work in rural areas, too, though of course the clientele and thus needs will be different.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Yes, a few churches around here are turned into homes. The challenge for many is paying for maintenance of a church steeple: expensive but so important! There’s one in the Adirondacks that has been turned into a B&B (or maybe that was a school house), but we definitely need to think out of the box.

  4. Chad's Crooked House says:

    Saving beautiful old churches is a problem everywhere. A number of (urban) churches have been successfully reused as multifamily housing. Any demand for rural senior apartments? Of course a new congregation, performing arts group, or community center that would keep the interior intact is even better, but a senior housing conversion could potentially have funding sources to save the exterior and some of the interior.

    Here’s a link to 10 crises averted in Philadelphia, with pretty photos: http://hiddencityphila.org/2013/05/how-to-reuse-a-church-our-top-ten/

    And great model, a gorgeous old church that is now shared by multiple religious, arts, educational, and social service groups that are gradually restoring the building. None of them could do it on their own. http://www.calvary-center.org/support-calvary/building-restoration/

  5. Paula Sagerman says:

    Newfane has an abandoned church success story. An intact 1881 Gothic Revival gem in Williamsville village that had been long-abandoned was saved by a local resident. He used his own resources for a comprehensive rehabilitation that preserved both the exterior and interior of the church and converted it to an appropriate use as a small event venue. The sanctuary remains open except for a glazed room at the rear, which provides a heated seating area during the colder months and a sleeping loft. As the church is built into a bank, there is a full-height basement that provides space for a large dining area that overlooks a river, and a kitchen. The owner was not required to follow any preservation guidelines – his good taste and sensitivity to the historic character of the church resulted in a historic preservation success story.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Beautiful story, Paula. What an asset to the community. It’s great to hear of people who follow preservation ethics even without the requirements.

  6. Taximan Steve Lindsey says:

    “How can we help these buildings?”—-blog.

    An inventory of at-risk Vermont country churches should be compiled in a systematic way. As has been done in prairie states and provinces ( Canada .) A systemic inventory taken followed by a media release alerting the public to the problem would be a start.

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