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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Addison Four Corners, January 2016.

Summer Travel: Historic Tourist Cabins

It’s summer! That means it’s time for winding road trips and exploring roadside America. Where do you stay when you travel? If you transported yourself to another era, where would you stay? Perhaps a tourist cabin along a state highway, a convenient rest stop. Tourist cabins are part of the evolution of roadside lodging (mentioned here). This summer I’ll be keeping my eyes open for tourist cabins on the Vermont highways, and wherever else my travels take me. If you find any, send them my way.

Here’s one to start off our summer travels. This is located on Route 17 near Chimney Point, VT. Each gable front cabin has novelty siding, a metal roof, exposed rafters, a small front porch, and cinder block foundations.

The faded sign seems to say that the cabins are no longer in operation.

The faded sign seems to say that the cabins are no longer in operation.

There are five cabins.

There are five cabins. Cabin five (all the way to the left) is lived and has an addition.

The front of a cabin (all look the same).

The front of cabin #3 (all look very similar).

The rear of the cabins.

The rear of the cabins.

Side view. This one appears to have some ongoing work. Or, it's a good place to store a ladder!

Side view. This one appears to have some ongoing work. Or, it’s a good place to store a ladder!

View across the road from the cabins. Beautiful Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of NY State.

View across the road from the cabins. Beautiful Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of NY State.

Would you stay in a tourist cabin?

Elgin Springs House in the Springtime

Back in the wintertime, when Vermont still had snow on the ground, I stopped on the side of the road to photograph the Elgin Springs House. I’ve been fascinated by this house for over one year, so I thought I’d take the time to photograph it in the spring.

Elgin Springs House on Route 22A.

Something about this house makes me want to stare at it all day long; it is captivating. This house has been abandoned for over three decades, yet it is still standing. Metal poles are supporting the overhang of the second story and there are holes in the roof, but the house remains fairly square and upright. It is a testament to the quality of construction and the talent of the builders.

Zoom in to see the wider wood planks beneath the wood clapboards. You can also see the dentils on the soffit and the detail in the cornerboards.

And so much of the architectural details remain. Glass panes and window frames are almost all gone, likely to vandalism or Mother Nature, which immediately gives the house an aura of mystery and sadness.  Tattered curtains – once chosen and hung by a resident of the house – blow in the breeze in broken windows.

Broken shutters and tattered curtains.

The intricate screen doors hang loosely on the hinges. Few shutters remain, and those that cling to the house are broken and faded and deteriorating.

You can see the metal pole supporting the second story.

View of the front.

View of the southeast corner.

Another view of the original house (the two-story section is an addition according to the Vermont Sites & Structures Survey).

Next time I’ll use a different camera lens so I can zoom in for even closer details — like better views of the plaster and lath that you can see on the walls in a few pictures. See – the fascination? It’s ridiculous.

Outbuildings associated with the house.

How much sadder can this house get? I hate to think of it, but a few more hard winters like this one, and its future is looking grim.

Click and zoom in on all of these pictures at your leisure.

Do you know of similar, abandoned, sad houses that need to be photographed for memory? Let me know or send some pictures. Thanks!

Weekend Homework

One day soon I will not have anymore weekend homework, but right now I have two more weekends full until this semester (i.e. my grad school career) ends. And this weekend I’m back to the Addison Town Hall, one of my favorite buildings. This time I’m working on an interior conditions assessment (which follow a windows conditions assessment and an exterior conditions assessment). Take a look at these photos:

 

The second floor and the stage.

On the stage.

View from the stage.

 

These are only on the second floor because it’s the more historic of the floors… and it has the amazing historic feeling to it. Can you imagine putting on a play for your class on that stage? Look at those little desks. I love the benches, too, likely used for town hall meetings and grange hall meetings. While I chose a cold, but sunny day to conduct my documentation, it was colder inside the building than outside! (This, of course, I expected since the building hasn’t been heated in decades.) Still, any chance to spend time in the Addison Town Hall is a treat.

That’s my homework this weekend. What about you?

Mysterious House in Addison County

This week brings a comprehensive exam for the UVM HP program and a bunch of other assignments. It’s hectic and controls my life, as fellow current and former students will know. But instead of rambling on about homework, I’ll leave you with this mysterious house – mysterious in the sense that I know nothing of it. It is located on VT Route 22A South, just around the Panton and Addison town lines. If you know anything about it, please share!

VT Route 22A just around the Addison/Panton line.

Northbound.

The windows and doors are no more; it looks as though the wind may knock it over during any storm. But it’s fascinating and it is my current (non school) obsession.

Happy Halloween

Addison Town Hall and Addison Community Baptist Church, October 27, 2010.

I don’t have a pumpkin to share or a haunted house, so you’ll have to settle for an October image of the Addison Town Hall. What a beautiful time of day!