Abandoned Vermont: Log Cabin Motel

Sitting on the side of VT Route 107, just outside Stockbridge, VT

Log Cabin Motel sign on the westbound side of Route 107 -- the "motel" writing has faded / been removed.

Ah, that's why they call it the Log Cabin Motel. Classic.

Log Cabin Motel.

This part didn't look too much like a log cabin, however.

I cannot find any information on this motel — how long it’s been abandoned or even any old contact information about it.

Elgin Springs House

The Elgin Springs House in Panton, Vermont was built ca. 1845 by architect James Gorham. Originally a Classic Cottage, the Greek Revival addition (right) was built ca. 1850. Owner Solomon Allen and his son, Hiram, started an enterprise focused on the supposed medicinal qualities of nearby Elgin Springs. Guests to this boarding house/inn were encouraged to drink from a spring on a nearby hill, which would “purify blood.”

The Elgin Springs House in Panton, Vermont.

The book, New England: A Handbook for Travellers by Moses Foster Stewart (1875) writes of Elgin Springs, “About 3 miles south of Vergennes are fine cascades of Otter Creek, near which is the Elgin Spring (small hotel) containing sulphates [sic] of magnesia, iron, and soda, and carbonates of soda and lime” (page 184).

Closer view from the road.

South side of the house.

The Vermont State Historic Sites & Structures Survey recorded this house in 1977. At that it had already been abandoned and was identified as threatened. Now, 34 years later, the house sits abandoned and seems to facing demolition by neglect. As to the reasoning and its fate? I’ve only heard in passing that it’s caught up in a family matter.

Front of the house.

The poor, poor house.

Front door.

For those interested, yes, there is a “Keep Out/No Trespassing” sign. These pictures were taken from the road. And, of course, I love this house.

Historical information obtained from The Historic Architecture of Addison County: Vermont State Register of Historic Places, published by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (1992).

The Walloomsac Inn

Located in the Old Bennington Historic District, the Walloomsac Inn is the oldest inn in the State of Vermont. The building was constructed in 1764, with additions and alterations to the roof throughout the late 1700s and 1800s. Five prominent families owned and operated the inn throughout its life; the inn served the stagecoach road until the 1850s. Important figures such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison have stayed at the inn. Although its name has been changed a few times, it was most recently known as the Walloomsac Inn. Until about 15 years ago, the building operated as a bed-and-breakfast, but today it is a private residence. An unwelcoming sign on the front door informs the public that it is private property and to stay off the porch and property.

The Walloomsac Inn, on the corner of Monument Avenue and Route 9 in Bennington, Vermont.

View of the Route 9 side.

Note the poor condition of the front elevation and Christmas wreath.

The sun came out for a bit, highlighting the colors of the building.

Route 9 view.

At least the first floor is occupied by the owners.

From Monument Avenue.

Can you imagine such a beautiful house suffering a fate of deterioration and neglect? It’s incredibly sad; such an important landmark in the Old Bennington Historic District and in the State of Vermont should be saved and loved! The loss of this building would be catastrophic. It breaks my heart, and I’ve only passed by the building a few times.

However, I do not know the entire story. An article (Ethan Allen, page 14) talks about the cost of code upkeep and zoning laws that would prevent the building from operating as an inn once again. Readers, are any of you Bennington residents? What is the latest news on this building? Perhaps the owners truly love the building and just do not know what to do. If that is the case, the town should certainly take an interest and develop a solution. Thoughts?

For additional historical information, read the Bennington Museum’s writeup.

Burned Out Log Cabin

Photograph courtesy of Maria Burkett.

Photograph courtesy of Maria Burkett.

Photograph courtesy of Maria Burkett.

Ah, the perks of friends who have lots of fieldwork and survey assignments are evident when I receive intriguing photographs in my email.

These photos were taken recently in Belmont County, Ohio, which was one of the first areas to be settled legally by people in the Northwest Territory. Maria writes that it was just outside of her survey area, so she does not know more about it, other than it may be as early as the 1790s. Thanks for sharing, Maria!

Anyone else have some information? Any log cabin experts out there?

Death of a Barn

By Nicholas Bogosian (author of the series,  A Life in the Trades)

Tim owns an old barn near Fairpoint, Ohio. We tried reaching each other by phone for two weeks. I was needing some old rotten timbers for a wood conservation project in my advanced materials science class. Tim said he had some lying in a stack.

Dirt road after dirt road brought me closer. My cell phone rang. “Hey, this is Tim – wondering if we could plan a different time. I need to talk to some guy about my bulls. Have you already left?” I had. “Yeah – I’m almost there.” “Well, I can show you where the barn is real quick and come back.”

It’s amazing I found his house: “…a gray farmhouse on the left.” I swerved quick to the left when he waved to me from his silver SUV. Two dogs approached my car – a big yellow lab and a tiny black chihuahua with a pink cast for a leg. I quickly grabbed my gloves, my camera, my moisture meter, and my tape recorder. I got into his car. “The barn’s probably a hundred years old. I really wanted to preserve it.” “So what’s wrong with the timbers? Insects? Rot?” “I’m not sure. They’re laying in a stack. You can dig out what you need.”

We pulled up a steep hill. He paused and pointed off to the right to a wall of thick trees: “It’s right through there. I’ll be back in a half hour.” I got out of the car. I was expecting some expansive hill with an aged barn sitting neatly at its top. Nevertheless, I began walking through the high grass. Slowly, pieces of sun-damaged timbers started showing up, strewn on the ground around me. I finally got past the trees and saw the barn.

Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

I was not expecting for the stack of timbers to be so large or for the barn to be non-existent. Initially, despite his helping me, I was a little aggravated that Tim hadn’t once mentioned that the barn had fallen down and that this was the “stack” that I was to find my experimental pieces. Green vining plants had overgrown the stack, trees were sprouting through summer beams, spiders had webbed homes in knee braces, hand-wrought nails were breaking off beams like chalk as I stepped over them.

Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

I looked to my left and saw a tall wall of stacked limestone creating a shoring wall to a plateau of trees. A massive joist had fallen from its ledge within the wall. It was hard to make sense of anything. The debris was so confusing, I would never be able to salvage anything quickly. I continued walking across beams like a high-wire walker looking down to the crawl space beneath me. The slate roof had fallen. It had all fallen. The pieces were scattered like the bottom of a creek bed. They snapped beneath my careful steps.

Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

I kept waiting for Tim’s arrival – suddenly appearing behind a camouflage of trees. Everything became still. It all felt very quiet except for the bird that occasionally greeted me with an enthusiastic, “Hey!”

I realized I had never seen anything like this before. I remembered Dave’s lectures in our Theory of Structures class and the simple truth that all acts of building are in opposition to nature. We store its members with potential energy when we hew down the logs, when we hoist the timbers, when we hammer the treenail into the joint. But nature works from day one to bring it down.

Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

And so there I was in the middle of nowhere standing on top of the last remnants of what used to be something. Nature had not depleted the barn of its energy. It still held the memory of before. It was as if the whole thing would have picked itself back up again if it could. But that was not going to happen, and I was not particularly hopeful of it either. Despite the confusion of letting an old barn (more like 160-years-old) get to a state where it could topple over, I was happy that I got to witness its burying grounds, to stand on its beams and feel the rush of memory – that distant memory of peeking inside old abandoned homes as a kid, that respectful hush that falls over us, and the uneasiness of our intrusion.

Roadside Friday Links

Chilliwack, BC, Canada is losing its dinosaur theme park, Dinoland, which was originally affiliated with Hanna Barbara and named Bedrock City (who else loves The Flintstones!?) You can watch a video of its history and catch some Flintstone images here. The park will close forever on September 6, 2010. Why is it closing? The owner decided to sell the property for financial and health related reasons. Dinoland has the claim as “North America’s only cartoon dinosaur town.” Though it was only 35 years, roadside culture and amusement seems like it’s losing a bit of history.

The United States actually has a few Flintstone related parks: Flintstone’s Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota and Bedrock City in Valle, Arizona. There is also Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.

These Friday links so often seem to be roadside related. I couldn’t hide my obsession if I tried, so I might as well continue on today’s inadvertent theme.

On that note, abandoned interstates intrigue me and crack me up at the same time, like the I-189 interchange in Burlington that has been sitting there for decades. I’ve heard that the tallest filing cabinet in South Burlington is a monument to the amount of paperwork the interchange and road extension, dubbed the Southern Connector or the Champlain Parkway (another post for another time).  You would expect to find an abandoned old road, but an interstate? Apparently it’s rather common. Check out “Why the Lost Highway” and this page of abandoned freeways. The site itself is quite dated, but still entertaining.

Parkways and carefully designed highways are some of the most enjoyable. What will happen to the Pasadena Freeway and the Merritt Parkway? See this NY Times blog post. The Merritt Parkways is also on the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Places List for 2011. How do we adapt historic roads without destroying their character?

Is anyone attending the Historic Roads 2010 conference in Washington, DC from September 9-12? Please share! One attendee, Heidi Beierle has been cycling from Oregon to DC and chronicling her adventures along the way in the effort to research the impacts of bicycle tourism on rural communities. Talk about dedication!  Check out her blog and see her route.

Need more roadside fun? Of course. Check out the blog Go BIG or Go Home, for a family’s adventures as they travel to everything giant. I LOVE it.

Have I actually run out of new roadside photos to share? How about an old one?

The 2006 Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Photo by Sarah O'Shea.

Summer corn, yum. Funny story: the restaurant that was supposed to have the best corn ever, located next to the corn palace, actually ran out of corn and we didn’t get to have any. It figures. Anyway, happy weekend! Happy Labor Day!