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?

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

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A collapsing porch, but what else?

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Another neglected building, breaking my heart.

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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!

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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.

Vergennes Depot Update

Remember the Vergennes Depot? (Seen in October 2012 and December 2012.) A lot has happened since then! Rehabilitation is well under way with new siding, restored windows, original detail exposed, historically accurate colors and much more to come. Who wants to move in?

View from the Vergennes/Ferrisburgh Park-n-Ride.

View from the Vergennes/Ferrisburgh Park-n-Ride.

And it's still located track side.

And it’s still located track side.

Looking down the tracks; the depot was located just a 1/4 mile that way.

Looking down the tracks; the depot was located just a 1/4 mile that way.

Restored windows, new clapboard siding.

Restored windows, new clapboard siding.

Close up of the windows.

Close up of the windows. And the new foundation.

Recessed arcades, an original detail.

Recessed arcades, an original detail.

Beautiful colors!

Beautiful colors!

There is still work to be done on the exterior and interior, and tenants to find for the building. But what a transformation! If you’re on Route 7 or nearby Vergennes/Ferrisburgh, head over to the Park & Ride to see this beauty!

A New Foundation: Vergennes Railroad Depot

Back in October, the Vergennes Railroad Depot was moved via hydraulic jacks to rest in its new home, adjacent to the Ferrisburgh Park & Ride (which is just over the Vergennes/Ferrisburgh town line on Vermont Route 22A).

On the move in October 2012.

Since then the depot has been set on a foundation and rehabilitation work is well underway. Here are a few images for an update. One thing to know about the depot is that it is now on the opposite side of the tracks, however, the building remains oriented correctly, with the bay windows and semaphore facing the tracks.

Early December 2012.

Early December 2012. This side faces the park & ride.

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Early December 2012. The windows are being restored, and thus are not in place. And check out that new concrete foundation.

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Early December 2012.

And for some updates later in December:

Mid December 2012.

Mid December 2012. Track side. Note the bay window and semaphore.

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Mid December 2012. What a sight! The relocation brings much more visibility to the building. Rehabilitation is in progress and the community is excited.

More updates to come. Any good rehabilitation stories to share from your corner of the world?

Preservation Photos #60

Jimmo's Motel on Route 7 in North Ferrisburgh, VT - recently for sale and sold -- at least the for sale sign is gone. This sign has since disappeared. Not quite picturesque roadside America, but still a vernacular motel, a piece of Vermont roadside history soon to be missing.

Reconstruction and the National Register

Buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts are nominated to the National Register of Historic Places based their significance and integrity (of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association) pertaining to 1 or more, of 4, criteria, which are:

A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or

B. That are associated with the lives of significant persons in or past; or

C. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or

D. That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory.

However, some properties do not fit these categories, for which there are criteria considerations:

a. A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or

b. A building or structure removed from its original location but which is primarily significant for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or

c. A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no appropriate site or building associated with his or her productive life; or

d. A cemetery that derives its primary importance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or

e. A reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or

f. A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance; or

g. A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.

Regardless of how you are nominating a property to the National Register, you must include a narrative description and a statement of significance, essentially making a case for the property. When you are nominating under one of the criteria considerations as well (a-g above) you must have a separate statement in which to discuss your argument.

I was thinking about the National Register eligibility of the Ferrisburgh Grange Hall in Ferrisburgh, VT (see comment by Sabra Smith) while at a square dance there this past weekend. The back story necessary for this is that the Ferrisburgh Grange Hall was just about to undergo a large restoration project in 2005, when it was burned to the ground by arson. Rather than start with a brand new building or something else, the town elected to move forward with a full-scale reconstruction. (Note: there is a much more detailed version of this story here and here.)

Ferrisburgh Grange Hall, after arson, 2005. click for original image.

While sitting on the balcony/second floor of the grange hall, I began to wonder if this building were on the National Register. (I do not know – do you?) And I wondered if it should be. By the definition, “accurately executed in a suitable environment…” it is appropriate. Though this building is not yet beyond the 50 year mark. (Note: there is not a 50 year rule. It is more of a guideline, but if less than 50 years it needs to be explained.)

However, while the building is beautiful, and accurate, and thoughtfully built… I do not feel as though I’m in a historic space when I’m in the building. The exterior can fool you for a minute or so as a historic building since it is an accurate restoration, but the inside is shiny, and incredibly clean and sharp, and just has the feeling of a new, modern, perhaps trendy building. I don’t mean that historically significant buildings have to be run down with peeling paint and scuffed floors, but feeling is such an important part; it’s the point and joy of standing in a historic building and sensing its history. Do you know what I mean?

But how you can deny the importance of this building? You cannot. And a lack of a National Register nomination doesn’t necessarily deny importance, but it indicates that the criteria do not fit this building at this time. So maybe this is the sort of building that will need at least 50 years in which to live and breathe with the community and to create its own significance, beyond that of a restoration.

I haven’t completely made up my mind. What do you think? Feel free to do disagree, of course.

The reconstructed Ferrisburgh Grange Hall, now the Town Hall. Click for original image.

 

Vermont Roadside

Recently I traveled from New York to Vermont with my two youngest sisters, Sarah and Erin; we traveled by interstates and US  highways. As I’m talking about buildings Erin exclaims, “Is this a preservation trip? No one told me that!” With me, it’s always a preservation trip, Erin. But, as I discovered, they enjoy good American roadside culture just as much as I do, particularly giant roadside culture. And really, who doesn’t?

Erin & Sarah in Brandon, VT.

Me & Sarah in Brandon, VT.

Erin with the giant Dakin Farm Maple Syrup jug in Ferrisburgh, VT.

They may not be the biggest rocking chair (it did actually rock) or maple syrup jug in the world, but we were certainly entertained by them. And had we traveled by I-89 rather than US Route 7, we would have missed this entertainment.  And are we the only ones who think that the maple syrup jug should depict how many quarts would fit in there rather than 1 quart on the label?