The mosaic tile floor in the lobby of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, FL, is one of the prettiest floors I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s one of the prettiest rooms. It would be a perfect place for a preservation party! Take a look.
Highgate Springs, a small town just south of the USA/Canada border, sits on US Route 7, directly adjacent to Interstate 89. Home to lakeside homes, a family resort, and working farms, you wouldn’t know much is there, except for the church steeple that you can see from I-89, if you’re paying attention. Finally, I had the opportunity to drive by and snap a few photographs.
The Highgate Springs Union Church, this Victorian Gothic building was constructed in 1877, with a mixture of Stick, Classical, and Gothic details. Originally built as a single-denomination church, it was soon used by a “union” of Highgate denominations. It is listed in the Vermont State Register of Historic Places (#0609-58).
“The Little White Church,” as it’s locally called, is not technically abandoned, based on what I can find. However, it no longer offers regular services. Instead, it’s used for special events such as weddings from May- October.
Beautiful, yes? And not abandoned, but it could use some maintenance and more funding and greater usage.
Every community seems to have similar issues with churches. What about those near you?
Happy weekend, everyone! Happy April! It’s snowing in Burlington, and, no, that is not an April Fool’s joke. How I wish it were. However, the snow is prettier than the barren trees and patches of brown dirt that are usually here this time of year. I suppose snow is okay for another day. A few reading links for the weekend:
- The last of the Howard Johnson’s restaurants, located in Lake George, NY is for sale. What happened to the ubiquitous restaurant chain? Have you been to one? I cannot recall if I have, though I remember my parents saying on road trips, let’s stay at a HoJo’s! Of course, the time we tried to, the pool was gross + green, which would not do for four young girls.
- This 12 stall barn was remodeled into a home. How did they do it? Basically, gutting it. While pretty, the new residence does not retain any historic integrity. What do you think? I was hoping they’d keep some of the stalls for something! (A pantry? A closet? A powder room?) And the doors. Sigh.
- Are you an alum of the UVM Historic Preservation Program? If you haven’t heard about the 40th Anniversary Celebration on October 13-15, 2017, be sure to check out uvmhpalum.wordpress.com for the latest updates. It’s the perfect excuse to come back to Burlington for a visit! Spread the word.
- This time of year in Vermont makes me miss North Carolina. Spring is well settled in by now in the south. Vermont has another 3-4 weeks before the leaves start to sprout on the tree branches. I’d say spring comes to Burlington in early May.
I really need a new podcast. Any suggestions?
Central High School is located on Lankford Highway (US Route 13) just outside Painter, Acccomack County, VA. This 1932/1935 school was constructed in the Art Deco style, common for schools in the 1930s. Central High School joined students from Painter and Keller. In 1984, the school became the district middle school. The school grounds contain recreation fields, outbuildings, and additional classrooms. In 2005, the school closed. Read the National Register nomination here.
In 2008, Tucker Robbins, a furniture designer from New York City, purchased the entire property for $150,000 with a vision to rehabilitate the school into a new home for his NYC based furniture manufacturing business, as well as an environmental-educational facility. Read about Tucker Robbins’ plan on his website. Unfortunately, his vision was not realized; and in 2015, he offered up the school for sale for $525,000. (Source: DelMarVANOW and Eastern Shore Post.) Fortunately, while he owned the building, Robbins did hire a consultant to nominate the school to the National Register of Historic Places (listed 2010).
Currently the property is listed for $350,000. Bonus: the asbestos abatement is completed inside the school building. Check the real estate for interior photographs. See this youtube video for an inside tour. Anyone want to buy a school? I hope this building has a bright future.
The Village of Fort Edward is located on US Route 4 between Hudson Falls and Glens Falls in Washington County, NY. The Hudson River forms the western boundary of the town, and Delaware and Hudson Railroad (now the Canadian Pacific Railway) runs through town. Historically, Fort Edward was known for being a portage between the Hudson River and the Champlain Canal. You wouldn’t know it today, but Fort Edward was once the third largest city in North American after Boston and New York City (18th century).
In the 19th century, paper mills, foundries, and sawmills sustained Fort Edward’s economy. Some companies included International Paper, Marinette Paper Company (bought out by Scott Paper Company then by Kimberly Clark), then Irving Tissue. Read more history at Lakes to Locks. General Electric (GE) opened a plant in 1942 to produce selsyn motors during WWII, and post war produced building capacitors. The plant closed in 2013 when operations relocated to Florida for cheaper labor. (Unfortunately, GE polluted the water and air in Fort Edward for decades.)
You can see the former prosperity of Fort Edward as you drive through the village. Due to the suffering economy and other typical factors of the late 20th century, finding an abandoned school was not surprising.
Built as Union School, the building housed the grammar school and the high school until 1923, when the new high school was completed. Later known as the Florence E. Powers School, it housed the elementary school until a new elementary school wing was added to the high school in 1970.
Agway occupied the building until it moved further up Main Street, and since then it appears that the building has sat empty, decaying, and in need of major repairs soon. Take a look around with me.
Internet searching revealed little, other than as of 2013, the Renaissance Plan for Fort Edward included a plan to develop the Agway Complex into a multi-use complex. Hopefully that comes to fruition.
Readers, what do you know about this Fort Edward school? I’d love to hear more.
White, gable-roofed churches with tall steeples are anchors in Vermont’s villages, historically and visually. Small towns often have more than one church, speaking to a time when people attended churches and community meetings in greater numbers. In modern day Vermont, these large buildings remain in the same small villages, whose populations and budgets are fading. As you can see in Abandoned Vermont posts, some are empty, and others are used only seasonally:
- Clarendon Church (vacant)
- South Ryegate Church (status unknown, but sold in 2016)
- Simonsville Meeting House (seasonal use)
- Bloomfield Church (recent comments indicate it’s now a music venue)
- Highgate Falls Church (seasonal use)
- Hubbardton Church (storage only)
Seasonal churches are used in the summer when the building does not need to be heated and lack of electricity, perhaps, is not a hindrance to use. Buildings closed up for the winters are not uncommon in the colder climates; many summer camps and cottages are winterized and sit alone for the winter months.
Union Church in New Haven Mills, VT is one of the seasonal churches. For decades it was used once per summer month for a church service, and the occasional special event.
Union Church was constructed in 1851 as a church and meeting house to accommodate the growing community of New Haven Mills. Local craftsman Eastman Case constructed the building; his study of Asher Benjamin is evident in his design. Union Church is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a well-preserved example of a wood frame Greek Revival style church with features that including the temple-front gable entrance, corner pilaster, full entablature and pediments, oversized windows, and interior details. The Queen Anne style belfry was added ca. 1880.
The 20th century brought floods and fire to the community, which led to the demise of the town and its lumber industry. The church sat empty throughout the 1930s, until Burt Rolfe, a Middlebury College student, took on the role of caretaker and preacher. Mr. Rolfe died in World War II. Neighbors, Langdon and Colleen Smith began taking care of the building and holding one monthly summer service for the next 40 years. When the Smiths died, neighbors continued to maintain the building. The church survived because of the neighbors and the community’s efforts to host events, raise money, and preserve the building. (Read the project file here for additional info.)
The Preservation Society of the Union Church of New Haven has continued repairs as part of the long-term preservation project since the 1990s. In 1997, the Preservation Society applied for and received a grant from the Division for Historic Preservation to stabilize the foundation and paint the building. In 2011, the Preservation Society received another grant to repair the 20/20 double hung windows.
It’s a beautiful building in a striking setting, overlooking the small village of New Haven Mills and set adjacent to the Lampson School. However, buildings are meant to used and if they stand in year-round communities with only seasonal use, there is lost potential. Keeping a building seasonal allows the greatest amount of preservation. No wiring is needed; the building needs to be maintained, but not altered or disturbed. However, in our cold climate, that limits the months. And what a shame to not be able to use this building all year round. Perhaps minimal modernization and addition of systems would be worth it in order to use the building.
It’s a good preservation theory discussion. What do you think? If there is use, keep the buildings as-is for the warm seasons or disturb them for year-round use?
At the corner of Main Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Ludlow, VT, sits an 1849 stone house. It’s an impressive building, one that I haven’t noticed in my travels, probably because I’m normally staring at the Fletcher Library across the street from this house. Finally, I noticed it.
This building is an 1849 stone building constructed in the unique “snecked ashlar” style (Scottish tradition), by William Spaulding. Originally there was a store on the first floor. Snecked ashlar is found only in southeast/central Vermont. (Chester village has an entire historic district of snecked ashlar, but otherwise it’s rare.) (State Survey # 1410-12.)
However, get up and close and you’ll be frightened by what you see. Structurally speaking, it’s not good. As in, I wouldn’t stand too close to that building. I think the walls are going to collapse.
I checked out Google Street View, and from the side street (Commonwealth Ave) you can see a Best Western sign on the front lawn (from Main Street it does not show). To confirm, I searched the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation online resource center. And yes, that was the answer! In the 1990s, the Best Western purchased the stone house at 83 Main Street to convert it to a 5 unit inn (click to read the Environmental Review file). However, the Division for Historic Preservation denied the initial request as it would have adversely affected this historic building. The Division provided suggestions as to how to work with the building, rather than against it, and what features to retain and preserve. At first, Best Western even wanted to put vinyl siding on the building! As you’ll read in the file, the Hotel and the Division came to an agreement on how to move the project forward.
See, preservation is not about stopping progress! Just moving it forward with respect to the past.
But, what about it now? My first guess was that the Best Western couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep up with the maintenance. However, a bit more digging revealed in January 2015 there was an explosion in the building causing $500,000 worth of damage. Fortunately, no one was injured, but there was substantial structural damage.
Do you live in Ludlow? What’s the latest update?
One room schoolhouses are easily recognizable, as we’ve discussed. I delight in what I call my “schoolhouse radar”. It’s a fun game to play. What is your favorite type of building to spot?
Near Green River Reservoir in Hyde Park, VT, this building sits at a crossroads, a common place for one room schoolhouses. It has the gable roof massing of a schoolhouse and the general size, and hint of Green Revival detail (cornice returns).
While the building looks a bit dreary in the fog and clouds and the overgrown weeds, it still stands out as a schoolhouse converted to a residence, right? Maybe? Where is the bank of windows?
The windows don’t lend themselves to a schoolhouse, but look closely and you can tell by the paint on the rear of the schoolhouse that the bank of windows has been removed and replaced by residential windows. Still, I’d bet on it being a schoolhouse.
Next up? Consulting the trusty Online Resource Center (ORC) of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The ORC contains searchable PDFs of all of the state survey files, among many other resources.
This building at the crossroads of Garfield was indeed a schoolhouse. According to the 1981 survey, this was the Garfield District School, constructed in 1875, operating until 1953. This was one of the first schools in Vermont certified as a “Standard School”. The Standard Schools were aptly named, as schools were rated based on standards of lighting, ventilation, teaching quality, sanitation, and other details. As of the 1981 survey, the building was a residence. The survey does not discuss the west elevation (the former window bank). However, the existing chimney replaced a cupola that enclosed the school bell.
Being a tourist offers the luxury of time, assuming you’re not one to over schedule (younger me did such things – I’ve learned my lesson). Without too much of a schedule you’re free to wander, stop, stare at architecture, and take in the new sights and sounds, and hopefully local flavors (beer + gelato, anyone?). My favorite modes of transportation for city exploring are via bike and foot. Bikes cover greater distances so you can see more than when walking. It’s easier to navigate while on a bike than in a car, and you don’t have to worry about parking. You can get out of the tourist-centric areas and see more of the city. And, it’s good exercise (to work off that beer and gelato). Find a bike path or bike lane, and you’re set. Walking, of course, is best in crowded areas and really allows you to stroll hand in hand or hand in camera, whatever your preference.
Quebec City is such a place: bike friendly and pedestrian friendly. There is so much to see that you will need a bike. Just be prepared for some ridiculously steep hills. Seriously, I’d rather run up those hills than bike some. And make sure you have good brakes! The city is filled with bike paths and bike lanes, including a linear park / bike path along the St. Lawrence River (the Promenade Samuel-De Champlain). Don’t worry if you’re not into hills; it’s flat. And when you get hungry, head back into the city for some architectural eye candy and good food.
Here are some of the scenes from the bicycle and pedestrian point of view.
I highly recommend a visit to Quebec City. Have you been? Do you prefer to a be a cyclist or a pedestrian? What cities are your favorite?
Happy Friday, friends! Happy travels.
Fisk Farm is a historic estate located in Isle La Motte, VT, with an adjoining (historic) marble quarry that began operations in the 1660s. Today the quarry is a world renowned fossil preserve as a Natural National Landmark. The original stone house on the property burned in the early 20th century, but its ruins stand, and later houses and barns remain on the property. Set on the west shore of the island, with a view of Lake Champlain, it is one of the most picturesque spots.
But, like all historic properties, there are some mysteries. Take this stone structure as your next challenge:
What is it? I don’t know, but I’m hoping you do. Some clues: 1) There is only one on the property. 2) Each side looks alike. 3) There are some pipes coming up from the ground. 4) Some of the insets have smaller metal pipes in them. 5) I am not taller enough to see the top.
Your turn. What do you think?