The Worthy Inn of Manchester, VT

Abandoned Vermont: Manchester Inn is one of the more popular posts in the series. The inn was the subject of debate when it closed and  then again when it was scheduled for demolition to make way for a new hotel. While there was much concern about the new hotel, the architecture fits in with the historic district setting. Have you seen it? What do you think? If you haven’t, take a look at website: Taconic.

The inn has had a few names. Here’s a quick list:

  • 1907: opens as the Orchard Park Hotel
  • 1919: bought by Julia and James Brown, renamed The Worthy Inn
  • 1945-1986: various owners, name remains The Worthy Inn
  • 1986: bought by Ann & Jay Degen, name changed the Village Country Inn
  • 2009: Inn goes into foreclosure

A reader, Gregory, kindly sent some postcard images that he thought fans of The Worthy Inn / The Village Country Inn would enjoy. Take a look!

vintage-postcard-the-worthy-inn-manchester-vermontworthy-90

worthy-inn-vt2

manchester-vermont-worthy-inn-exterior-real-photo-antique

Real photo postcard. 

worthy-inn23

manchester-vermont-worthy-inn-dining-room-real-photo

Worthy Inn dining room, real photo postcard. 

manchester-vermont-worthy-inn-lobby-real-photo-antique

Worthy Inn lobby, real photo postcard. 

worthy-inn-manchester-vermont-vt-l1891

worthy-inn343

Thank you, Gregory!

 

 

Seasonal Buildings: Union Church in New Haven Mills

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:

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.

img_7116

Union Church of New Haven Mills, VT, built 1851.

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.

img_7121

View through the window. Front entrance to the right.

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.

img_7117

Greek Revival details.

img_7118

Interior details: pews, plaster, tin ceiling.

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.)

img_7122

Through the window: failing plaster throughout the church.

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.

img_7123

New roof, 20/20 windows restored. Greek Revival details: pilasters, wide frieze, cornice returns, gable temple front.

img_7126

In need of exterior maintenance.

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.

img_7132

The view as you approach from East Road. To the right is the Lampson School.

img_7139

View from the Union Church, looking to the Lampson School and a farmstead.

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?

Abandoned Vermont: Ludlow House

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.

 

img_6891

83 Main Street.

img_6895

Shutters falling off the front gable end.

img_6893

Due to the precarious condition of the building, I wasn’t about to stand under it to read that notice.

img_6896

It’s hard to capture in a photograph, but the slabs of stone are falling off the exterior wall, which is bulging at the middle. Windows are popping out of the frames.

img_6882

Another angle. In the middle you can sort of see the damage in the middle of the building elevation (look for the smaller rock instead of the stone slabs).

img_6897

Rear addition.

img_6894

This side is just as bad as the other side. Check out the door.

img_6892

Poor “snecked ashlar” house.

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?

Abandoned Vermont: Salisbury Schoolhouse

The bank of windows make this easily recognizable as a one room schoolhouse.

One room schoolhouses are adorable. And they are an easily recognized architectural form. While they would be seemingly easy to adapt to an alternative use, many sit on the side of the road, underutilized. The District #8 Schoolhouse, ca. 1855, on Route 53 in Salisbury, VT is no exception. The schoolhouse sits in the middle of a farm field, serving as storage space for its owner. The 1977 survey photographs show a vestibule entry, which has since been removed. Otherwise, the schoolhouse retains its historic integrity with its character defining features such as the bank of windows.

District #8 School on the edge of a farm field.
Front entrance, no longer a vestibule. 
Peek into the windows and you’ll see the original materials of construction as well storage.
Bed frames, desks, stuff.

Hopefully its owner will see its potential soon.

Abandoned Vermont: Addison Town Hall (Alternatively: What about Rural Preservation?)

An upfront disclaimer: The Addison Town Hall is owned by the Town of Addison. Technically, it’s vacant, not abandoned. Due to its condition and the attention it requires, I categorize it as abandoned. 

The Addison Town Hall sits at the center of the village of Addison Four Corners in Addison, Vermont, at the junction of VT Route 22A and VT Route 17. Addison is a rural agricultural community in Addison County, with some remaining working dairy farms. The shores of Lake Champlain make up the western edge of the county.

DSCN2071

The Addison Town Hall and the Baptist Church are at the center of Addison Four Corners. Photo: January 2016.

The Addison Town Hall holds a place in my heart, because I studied the building during graduate school, and completed a building conditions assessment in 2010. And I passed through Addison Four Corners on my way to work at the Lake Champlain Bridge site for years. Since 2010, I’ve been visually monitoring the condition of the building.

DSCN2067

The Addison Town Hall, as seen in January 2016.

The Town Hall was built in 1872 and has served as a school, a town hall, town offices, and grange hall. As community needs changed, the interior was adapted, including  the second floor stage addition and partitions on the first floor. (See a few interior shots here.) School has not been in session since the 1950s. Today the town hall serves only as storage for the historical society and the neighboring Baptist church.

If memory serves, since October 2010 there have been a few frightening exterior developments.

DSCN2074

There is a clear separation of the foundation stones, northeast corner. January 2016.

DSCN2076

The northeast corner of the foundation is slipping, probably due to water damage. January 2016.

DSCN2063

The same issues on the southeast corner of the building. January 2016.

DSCN2061

The banks of windows would have been added when the standard school requirements of the 1930s were instated. January 2016. You can see all sorts of damage in this photo: collapsing back shed, weathering clapboards in need of a proper paint job, broken windows.

DSCN2060

View from the southwest shows the larger picture of deterioration, including the cupola. January 2016.

The deterioration of the Addison Town Hall brings up a more important conversation in preservation than one building.

The Addison Town Hall is an example of building located in a still active community, but a community that is rural and without all of the financial resources to rehabilitate this structure. What happens to a building that is a visual and physical landmark in a town, when there is not an obvious use for it?

A community’s needs change, and those changes often affect the buildings. Historic buildings with outdated purposes or those that are not up to code are left by the wayside with no plans and money.  What will happen to them? Imagine if a town center lost one of its prominent buildings. Rural communities have small village centers, with only a few buildings to represent the entire village. Loss of a town hall or a church or a school is devastating.

Urban preservation is a great conversation and a fun topic. But, frankly, it’s easier than rural preservation. There are more people, more opportunities for catalysts and funding. We should be talking more about alternative, creative uses for buildings in rural areas, where a one building win/loss can have much more of an impact than in an urban environment.

DSCN2072

Addison Four Corners, January 2016.

Abandoned Vermont: Ferrisburgh Farm House

Sometimes I think I must have seen all of the abandoned (or seemingly abandoned, empty) houses in Vermont based on all of the roads I’ve traveled for work and fun over the years. It may seem ridiculous, but sometimes months pass before I find another striking one. And then out of nowhere, I’ll find another. This one caught me by surprise. Just outside of Vergennes (where all of the houses are well maintained and beautiful), this house seemed like a duplex because of the twin gables. It’s most peculiar. The house sits among a working farm; it is surrounded by modern, functioning farm buildings.

It is included in the Vermont State Historic Sites & Structures Survey (VHSSS) and the Vermont State Register of Historic Places. Little information is listed, as typical with many 1970s surveys. In fact, the information is more focused on barns than the house. It is described as a ca. 1885 house with a ground stable barn, dairy barn, and carriage barn. The house was not photographed at the time, which leads me to wonder how long it has been in a state of neglect. And the barns are maybe long, long gone?

DSCN2102

A barn & the ca. 1885 house. It almost looks good from far away.

DSCN2104

A collapsing porch, but what else?

DSCN2097

Another neglected building, breaking my heart.

DSCN2100

Zooming in with the camera, the fallen shutters and missing gable screens are apparent. Windows are open. No one is living in this house, or at least this part of the house. Pardon the washed out photo; I had to zoom in quite far!

2016_Jan20 235

The side porch is collapsing, as well. The house must be vacant. How sad for it to fall surrounded by an active farm. I wonder where the owners live.

Do you know anything about this house? I’d love to know the local stories.

Revisiting Abandoned Vermont: South Ryegate Church

Last time I saw this church in South Ryegate, the rear addition was barely hanging out, as the ground below it washed away in Tropical Storm Irene. By luck, someone let me in the church that day to see the interior. Empty, neglected, but with such promise. That was 3.5 years ago. Recently while in the area, I drove by to see how the church was faring. From the front, it looked the same. This 1880 First Presbyterian Church is still beautiful.

It was still for sale, too. That was in November. As of January, the church is off the market.

IMG_1709

South Ryegate Church at 161 Church Street

The difference this time? The rear addition has been removed, likely due to loss of a foundation and to save the main building.

464

Note the missing addition.

 

467

I was not able to see what rear of the building looks like now.

468

View from the next street.

 

 

Based on real estate listings, this was done a few years ago. Maybe someone bought the church this time? If I find out, I’ll let you know.

Revisiting an Abandoned Vermont property: Fair Haven Depot

I’ve been photographing abandoned and neglected Vermont properties since 2011. This year I’ve been revisiting some of these properties to find out if anything has changed. A few have found better fates, but the majority remain vacant and neglected.

The Fair Haven Depot is located just outside the center of Fair Haven. The train depot is on the Clarendon & Pittsford Rail line, formerly owned by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, and now owned by Vermont Rail System (VRS). Until 2010, Amtrak stopped at this depot, though the stop was not inside the building. Passengers waited in a small shelter across the street. The building was surveyed in the 1980s by the Vermont Historic Sites & Structures Survey, at which time it was vacant and not used as a passenger station. That’s 30+ years ago. From what I’ve learned, the railroad is not responsive to any town or historical society attempts inquiring about the building.

Additionally, the 1930s concrete bridge that leads to the depot has been closed for a few years. There is another way around and not much traffic, so they fate of this bridge does not look good.

Interested in a walk around the depot with me? Read on.

View from the bridge. The depot looks pleasant thanks to yellow & green plywood painted to look like doors and windows. 


Vegetation and evidence of backsplash.

  

The trackside of the building. If you look closely at the foundation you can see water damage. The water pours down the hill (to the left of this photo) and flows into the foundation. 


Foundation and damage to the bricks, from water and deferred maintenance. 

  

Closer view of the damage. 


Cracks in the bricks. Critters can easily fit under that door. 

  

More brick spalling and the stone holding the bracket, which holds the roof, is not long for this world. 


More of the same. 

  

Foundation damage. 


Vegetation next to a building foundation is not good for long-term building health. 

  

The precipitation splashes from the ground to the bricks. And, as evident by the moss, there is not much sunlight to dry the ground. 


  

The side of the building that you see from the bridge. 

Something about this building breaks my heart. It must be my fondness for railroad depots. Depots are such valuable buildings to communities: transportation hubs, meeting places, often architectural gems in the town. Railroad buildings were built to last. There are many success stories of railroad buildings throughout Vermont.

What a shame that the railroad neglects its history and its beautiful, historic buildings throughout Vermont and the rest of the United States? Restoring a railroad depot always benefits the community – socially and economically and in all realms.

Do you have a similar story from your community? What advice can you offer? I’d love to know. This depot deserves to be saved. Have some thoughts? #savethefairhavendepot

Abandoned Vermont: 1829 Sudbury Schoolhouse

Not necessarily abandoned, but certainly neglected.

Most one-room schoolhouses that you’ll find in Vermont are wood frame construction and wood clapboard. For that reason, this Greek Revival one-room schoolhouse of marble construction at the intersection of Route 73 and Route 30 in Sudbury, VT jumps out at the passersby. Known as the District No. 3 School or the Sudbury Hill School, it dates to 1829 (for alterations) and ca. 1821 (original construction).

Today the school appears secure, dry, and safe, but vacant. Do you know who owns or uses the school? If you’re interested in exploring the school and looking in the windows, look at these photographs and captions.

IMG_1882

The little schoolhouse sits on the side of the road with a message board, but no news to report in November 2015.

West facade.

Sudbury School No. 3. Look at the gable end and you can see that the roof might have been raised (hence the 1821 and 1829 construction dates).

IMG_1870

Windows were not needed on the north side. At back of the school are the attached privies.

 

IMG_1881

Schoolhouse entrance.

IMG_1871

The bank of windows was likely added later when school standards were developed. Look closely and you can see an original window (now filled in) to the right of the window bank and on the front left of the gable end.

IMG_1873

The west bank of windows.

IMG_1876

Desks, books, miscellaneous items, chalkboard, as see through the window.

IMG_1872

The schoolhouse appears to have been used in the last half century, based on the desks and the heating duct. Now it serves as storage.

IMG_1875

More of the same.

IMG_1877

To the privies.

IMG_1880

Marble fieldstone construction.

You can find the National Register Nomination here via www.orc.vermont.gov.

What do you think? Beautiful, yes? Would you rather have a vacant/neglected building like this converted to a private residence, a town office, or a museum that is open sparingly?

[Updated] Abandoned No More: Putney Schoolhouse 

Remember the “Abandoned Vermont: Putney Schoolhouse“?

The Putney Schoolhouse, as seen in 2013. The plywood on the left covers the original bank of windows, a defining characteristic of one room schoolhouses. Click for original post.

Originally posted in 2013 with a follow-up in 2014, readers have commented and kept me (and you) informed about the project. Last month, I was traveling through Putney and thought I’d drive by to check on the schoolhouse’s progress. To my surprise, the project is complete.

Take a look at these photos, and let me know what you think. I’ll let you look before I comment.

The Putney Schoolhouse, September 2015.

The Putney Schoolhouse, September 2015.

View from the north.

View from the north, Westminster West Road.

View from the south approach.

View from the south, Westminster West Road.

Side addition.

Side addition. The bank of windows is lost.

New fenestration.

New fenestration.

Hooray, right?! An old building rehabilitated. Right? Well, almost. The massing is appropriate and respectful of the original building. Even the small woodshed remains. The setting and feeling remain. BUT, what happened to the bank of windows? That is the most defining, most visible characteristic of a one-room schoolhouse. And now there are only two windows (see two photos above, and compare to the 2013 image).

What do you think? What would you do differently? Or is this a good compromise? Would you say it meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation?

And to my surprise, it’s an AirBnB rental! Check it out. While I’d like the bank of windows, I’ll admit, the inside looks beautiful.