The Smallest Bank in Vermont

Six years of traveling Vermont for work and for fun, and there are still some towns I haven’t passed through. Vermont 251 Club states that Vermont has 251 towns and cities. Many towns have more than one village, so the 251 is semi-misleading. Orwell, Vermont is one of those that I haven’t visited. The town center sits on Route 73, which connects Route 22A and Route 30, main north/south roads in Vermont. With some time to spare recently, I decided to turn off Route 22A and head into Orwell. I’m glad I did, as I found the most adorable (technical term, of course) bank.


The First National Bank of Orwell. The 1832 bank on the left, the 1878 vault in the center, and a later frame addition on the right.


The Farmer’s Bank of Orwell was established in 1832 in the 2-story transitional Federal-Greek Revival brick house. In 1878 the bank rechartered as the First National Bank of Orwell and added a new vault and teller counters housed in a new addition, the unusual High Victorian Gothic 3-bay building to the right. This little bank does a lot of talking with its brick and slate cornice arcading and its pointed arch window heads.


The 1878 vault.


The bank still operates as the National Bank of Orwell and received media acclaim and attention when the big banks were suffering losses and going under in the 2008 financial crisis. The New York Times reported on the bank (with some great interior photos) as did Seven Days, a local Vermont paper.

Three cheers for the locally operated banks (and visiting new towns). Find any unexpected gems on your travels lately?

Who Wore it Better? 

Facades on similar buildings, architecturally speaking, who are neighbors on the same street in Johnson, VT. Take a look.

Typical New England, two-story, gable-front commercial buildings.

An altered first floor porch, but looking vibrant.

An altered first floor porch, but looking vibrant.

And it’s neighbor:

Original porch and window details, but some alterations evident.

Original porch and window details, but some alterations evident including the bracketed roof over the fire escape (safety in New England winters).

These two are not the same exact building, but strikingly similar at first glance to stop and gaze. What do you think? Is one better than the other? No wrong answers, just pondering evolution of streetscapes.

#PastForward Recap: Emerging Professionals

Days of good sessions and good conversations at the National Preservation Conference left me with too many thoughts and take-aways for one post. And, I’d like to continue conversations that we started at the conference. Rather than overwhelm all of us, I’ll take it one post and one conversation at a time. Interested? Read on, and join in for the comments, whether you attended the conference or not.

Leading the Emerging Professionals session. Photo from the NTHP.

Leading the Emerging Professionals session. Photo from the NTHP.

From the conference program.

On Wednesday November 4, I had the privilege of leading the Emerging Professionals session at the National Preservation Conference (known as #PastForward). The session was divided into three parts or three topics, in this format: short talk about the topic, room discussion of topics/questions, smaller group discussions, back together for larger points and then move on to the next topic. A packed room (standing room only!), everyone in attendance was engaged and chatty. We had a great time.

The three topics were: Engaging Millennials; Technology & Historic Preservation; & finding a career in Historic Preservation.

To sum up the main points of the discussions:

  • Emerging does not mean young; it means new in the field.
  • The discussion of a need (or not) for division of age in the field remains current.
  • Embrace social media – not necessarily all of it, but some platform because that’s where everyone is.
  • To find your career: volunteer, intern, expand your skillset beyond preservation, talk to others about how they got to where they are.

For further discussion: The topic that I would like to continue is along the lines of age division in historic preservation. As I’ve discussed on PiP previously (here and here), the term “young preservationist” seems unnecessary and like it’s creating more of a divide than should exist for the good of preservation.

Yet, that is my experience living and working in Vermont. People in other locales feel that the only way for the younger generation of preservationists to be heard is by creating a separate group of preservationists who want to tackle different issues than the older generation of preservationists.

That makes sense. A large population can sustain separate groups working towards the same overall goal (read: historic preservation) with various methods. However, what I cannot understand is the prevalent use of “young” in the names of groups. And the age requirements. Emerging professionals is more dynamic and flexible. Open for interpretation, it can be anyone new to the field. As we know, some people start historic preservation careers at any age.

So, I ask: if you are in favor of the use of “young preservationists” or “young professionals” with an age requirement (under 40, under 35 – whatever it might be), what happens you cross over the that age limit? Will you be kicked out on your 40th birthday? So much for happy birthday!

Or, will we all just naturally age out of the young preservationist group?

I’m curious, truly, since the use of “young” seems new in our field. And it seems to me, that “young” is creating more of a divide in a field that needs all of the love and unity that it can get! When is “young” appropriate? Should we rename our groups? Is it effective to use “young” in the title of a group? Or does it create more of a divide?

Tell me what you think! Are you part of a “young preservationist” group? Would you keep the name? Change the name?

Five Questions With Deb Cohen of The Front Door Project

For years now, I’ve had preservation friends from social media; but, it was only about two years ago that I started to meet my “social media” friends in “real life”. I love making the world smaller and meeting friends who are doing inspiring work. Enter a new series to Preservation in Pink: Five Questions With. In this series, I’ll be talking with colleagues, social media friends, and others I admire to learn some tricks of the trade, hear their stories, and introduce you to more preservationists.

Introducing the second interview: Deb Cohen! 

Deb Cohen of The Front Door Project.

Deb Cohen of The Front Door Project.

Deb is a rising star in the Instagram/historic preservation crowd. She is creator of The Front Door Project Instagram account and blog of the same name. As with most social media finds, I cannot remember how I first came across Deb’s gorgeous architectural gallery, but I’m so glad I did. Wanting to know Deb’s story and how she emerged on the preservation scene, I am thrilled that Deb agreed to answer five questions for Preservation in Pink readers. And as a coffee lover, Deb fits right in with this crowd. Read the interview below.

This makes me feel warmer just looking at it! Those windowboxes! ❤️ #westhartford

A photo posted by Deb Cohen (@thefrontdoorproject) on

  1. Deb, you are new (to me) on the historic preservation scene. Are you actually new to it? If so, where have you been hiding?

I am a lifelong lover of historic architecture, and grew up in an older Victorian home, but I am new to the historic preservation scene. My background is actually in finance, and I have worked for various insurance companies for over twenty years since receiving my accounting degree from the College of William & Mary. I have always appreciated historic architecture and as I look back on my life I realize many of my choices have been influenced by the look and feel of my environment.

My parents taught me the importance of maintaining original woodwork and about the value of antiques. I was drawn to William & Mary largely due to the old feel of the campus which is even more enhanced by its location next to Colonial Williamsburg, and one of the reasons my husband and I chose West Hartford as our home was because of its older architecture. I insisted that we live in an older home because newer homes just “don’t have the same charm”.

Until the last couple of years, my life was so busy with family and career that I lost sight of what I was really interested in. Through the photography I started in the spring of 2014 I have developed a passion for historic architecture and preservation. I became a member of the Historic Commission in town last year, and have become a voice in town advocating for the preservation of our incredible architectural history. I only wish I could turn back time and choose Historic Preservation as my major in college!

This house should be mine. Agree? Good, thank you. #jamestown

A photo posted by Deb Cohen (@thefrontdoorproject) on

2. For people who don’t know about The Front Door Project, would you tell them about how its origins. 

I started taking photos of doors in the spring of 2014 as a way to occupy my time as I walked the neighborhoods of my hometown. My teenage daughter had an Instagram account focusing on preppy fashion and she had so much fun sharing ideas with other people that I decided to open one of my own to share my door photos.

Much to my surprise, people started to follow along which encouraged me to walk in new areas to find new material. I called it a “project” because it was really a project in terms of my self-improvement! To get more exercise, get outside more often and develop a new interest. I’m happy to say I have been able to do all of those things and more and am flattered and thrilled that so many people enjoy following along.

I love when someone is brave with color. Don't you wish more people were? 💛💙💛#westhartford

A photo posted by Deb Cohen (@thefrontdoorproject) on

3. After studying doors for a while, what can you say about them and replacement doors v. original doors? 

[A bad replacement door] hurts my heart a little bit! More than any other part of the home, the entry says so much about the home’s character and history and even a little something about the owners, I think. When an original door is replaced with something that doesn’t suit the home it dramatically alters its appearance and makes things look off-kilter.

And, ever since I started this project many people have “come out of the closet” as door lovers as well, and quite a number of people have told me that they have started noticing interesting doors and homes too!

I think people notice if others have paid some time and attention to their door to highlight it as a welcoming point of entry into their home. It could be a unique color, a beautiful pots of flowers, a wreath or any combination of details that make an entry noticeable.

4. What advice can you give to people who are nervous about taking pictures of people’s houses? Have you had any bad encounters? 

Unless you are on private property, legally there is nothing to stop someone from photographing your home. I take my photos from the street or sidewalk for the most part, unless I have permission from the owner.

Having said that, with the exception of one individual, no one has ever asked me not to take a photo of his/her home. People are always flattered once I explain that I admire their home and use the photographs to provide inspiration to others!

On the one occasion that I was asked not to take a photograph, I didn’t. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable and certainly respect their wishes in that regard, even though I’m legally within my rights.

Beautiful day at the beach today and so I thought this door coincides with that theme very nicely! #Warwick

A photo posted by Deb Cohen (@thefrontdoorproject) on

5. The best part of The Front Door Project is: 

That’s a tough question! There is so much I love about it. But I think the best part would have to be the community, whether it be fellow old house lovers, people passionate about home decor or those of us that just love to see pretty things and interact with one another.

I also love how it has opened other people’s eyes to historic preservation and an appreciation of our older architecture. In fact, I had one follower tag me in a photo of her new house recently, an older home. She said that I inspired her and her husband to purchase an older home for their first house. That’s pretty cool!

Thank you, Deb. You are inspiring! (And choosing just a few photos for this post was not an easy decision!) Keep up the beautiful work and welcome to the historic preservation world. Now, let’s go for a cup of coffee.

Ramp Entrances: Who Wore it Better? 

The same building, the same needs, and two entirely different results. 


Exhibit A: Access ramp of wood and transparent pipe railings.


Exhibit B: the more noticeable variety.

And, the funny thing is: the ramp on the left was constructed before the ramp on the right. My vote goes to A, for wearing it better. B obscures the historic buidling. Though, I mean no disrespect to Speeder & Earl’s coffeee; I love the coffee! 

 What do you think? 

Five Questions with Raina Regan on Instagram + Preservation

For years now, I’ve had preservation friends from social media; but, it was only about two years ago that I started to meet my “social media” friends in “real life”. I love making the world smaller and meeting friends who are doing inspiring work. Enter a new series to Preservation in Pink: Five Questions With. In this series, I’ll be talking with colleagues, social media friends, and others I admire to learn some tricks of the trade, hear their stories, and introduce you to more preservationists.

First up, Raina Regan!

Raina is one of my dear preservation pals and we finally met at the Society for Industrial Archeology Conference in Minneapolis/St. Paul in June 2013 after talking for years through our blogs and twitter. We both love our cats, Taylor Swift, photography, preservation, and conferences!

With Raina (@raiosunshine) at the SIA banquet. Hanging out at the Wabasha Caves, like the irish gangsters during prohibition.

A photo posted by Preservation in Pink / Kaitlin (@presinpink) on

You might know Raina Regan from her work with Indiana LandmarksSteller storiesTwitter, or more likely, her incredible Instagram account. Beautifully composed photographs filled with architectural layers and a mission to show viewers the world through her preservationist eyes,

Raina’s Instagram feed is always one of my favorites. Thinking we could all learn a few tips from Raina, I asked if she’d answer a few questions for Preservation in Pink readers. Read the interview below!

1. How long have you been on Instagram? Why did you start, and what do you love about it? 

I joined instagram in January 2012. I joined Instagram almost immediately after purchasing my first iPhone. I had seen a few friends on the app and really loved the way it was being used to call attention to historic homes, details, and little known places.

Interesting story, my first Instagram photo is a Modern home which is now on our Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered list. I feel like that speaks to what my account has been and continues to be about: historic places (with some other fun stuff sprinkled in).

There are so many things I love about Instagram today, from the friendships I’ve made both in Indianapolis and around the globe. Instagram has opened my eyes and made me more observant of my surroundings.

2. You’re quite well known on Instagram (especially for a preservationist)! Taylor Swift has you beat at 50 million, but you have 23K. That is impressive! And, I’m so proud of you. How did you rise to instagram fame? 

At the end of March, I was surprised by a message from instagram informing me I had been selected as a suggested user.  Every two weeks, Instagram selects a handful (around 200) of users around the globe to highlight. How they select these users is relatively unknown. I like to think it is because I am actively involved with in my local Instagram community (@igersindy) and I provide a unique point of view that highlights architecture. Being selected a suggested user, instagram encourages you to be a “model instagrammer.” I try to stay active by posting daily, commenting and liking photos, attending instameets, participating in the weekend hashtag project, and trying new things with my photography.

3. Your photos are beautiful. Can you share your top tips for insta-worthy photos? 

The grid is your friend! I always have the grid on my camera app turned on and I use it as a guide when taking my shots. There’s a photography trick called the “rule of thirds” (google it for tutorials) which I try to follow when composing my photos and is particularly helpful for instagram. Both of these tips have really helped me increase the quality of my photos.

I primarily use the native iPhone camera for the majority of my Instagram photos. But, I do edit them in a few iPhone apps. My favorites are Snapseed for original editing (such as brightness), VSCO to add a touch of filter, and SKRWT to straighten or fix any skew. I also really enjoy GeotagMyPic which allows you to add the geotag information back into a photo.

#ipulledoverforthis adorable historic house in Spencer, Indiana. #archi_ologie

A photo posted by Raina Regan (@raiosunshine) on

4. How do you see instagram playing a role in historic preservation? 

Imagery and storytelling is such an important part of saving historic places. Connecting people to places, increasing awareness, or even reawakening someone’s memories of a place all can be done through instagram. I love getting comments from someone with a favorite memory of a historic place I’ve posted, or comments such as “I hope they preserve that place.” I find that most people I interact with on Instagram are preservationists at heart — even if they aren’t one professionally. We need to do a better job mobilizing these people to get them engaged in the preservation movement more directly.

5. What is your favorite instagram photo?

That’s a hard one, but I would say this photo of the Indiana War Memorial (see below). The War Memorial is one of my favorite historic places in Indianapolis and I love the composition of this photo and the play of textures.

Thank you, Raina! Keep up the great work!

p.s. Raina and I are collaborating for a fun (soon-to-be-announced) event during this year’s #pastforward conference. Stay tuned! 

p.p.s. You can follow Raina’s cat Quincy on Instagram, too. You know you want to.

Seriously guys… I need to be in here, NOW #catsofinstagram

A photo posted by Quincy ( on

[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.

Tourist Cabins: Marshfield, Vermont

Former tourist cabin clusters are easy to spot on the roadside, as they have recognizable massing, size, and settings. Unfortunately, defunct tourist cabins tend to be the norm, and now they sit empty, used for storage, or converted to housing. Often these forgotten groupings have a few cabins left, a few missing, remnants of sign post, or a driveway to the cabins. Others have been relocated, and are harder to spot. But, look closely along U.S. or state highways and you’ll spot them. My most recent find is this grouping off U.S. Route 2 westbound in Marshfield, Vermont.

Spotted while traveling on US Route 2 in Marshfield, VT. This is a common arrangement of tourist cabins.

Spotted while traveling on US Route 2 in Marshfield, VT. This is a common arrangement of tourist cabins.

Adjacent to the cabins is a dirt road and farm complex. Perhaps the same property owner?

Adjacent to the cabins is a dirt road and farm complex. Perhaps the same property owner?

Tourist cabins in a row. The cabin in the foreground is larger, perhaps for the owner or for a larger family unit.

Tourist cabins in a row. The cabin in the foreground is larger, perhaps for the owner or for a larger family unit.

The cabins are quite similar: corner screen, centered front door, novelty siding, gable roof.

The cabins are quite similar: corner screen, centered front door, novelty siding, gable roof, former light to the right of the door. 

Cabins, in the woods now.

Cabins, in the woods now. Note the window on the left side of the cabins, next to the corner screened window. 

A telephone pole in front of the cabins. No evidence remains of a driveway shape or other elements to this tourist cabin collection.

A telephone pole in front of the cabins, perhaps once supplying electricity to the cabins. A relic of farm equipment sits next to it. No evidence remains of a driveway shape or other elements to this tourist cabin collection.

I am unable to find any information about these Marshfield cabins. If you have the name or any information, please comment below or send me an email. I’m so curious. In the meantime, other tourist cabins in Vermont:

Happy travels!

With Your Coffee

A view from the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury, VT.

A view from the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury, VT

It’s the With Your Coffee Monday edition, as the weekends are much too nice to spend time in front of a computer screen. Wouldn’t you agree? I hope you had a fabulous weekend. My weekend took me to/from central Vermont and north/south on the Island Line bike path in gorgeous weather, both with historic site explorations. What about you? Here are some reads to start off your week:

Cheers! Have a great week. :)

YUP: Bikes, Beer & Buildings

The media tells us, with valid evidence, that appreciation for historic buildings is on the upswing, and the number of craft brewers continues to grow, and alternate modes of transportation are catching on in urban areas.

Where can you find all of these in one place? Check out Rochester, New York. The Young Urban Preservationists (“YUP”) of the Landmark Society of Western New York hosted its second annual BBB – Bikes, Beer & Buildings – scavenger hunt on Saturday July 11, 2015. Caitlin Meives (UVM HP Alum 2008), Preservation Planner with the Landmark Society, gave me the rundown on the event and the group.


PiP: Tell me about Bikes, Beer & Buildings. 

CM: Bikes, Beer & Buildings is a great way to explore Rochester’s neighborhoods, see some lesser known landmarks, and learn about ongoing preservation projects. Organized by The Landmark Society’s Young Urban Preservationists (“YUPs”), BBB is Rochester’s first bike-based scavenger hunt. The YUPs provide the clues and you (and your team of 1-4 people) hop on your bikes and hunt down the buildings (or architectural features, parks, structures, etc).

PiP: How many years running? Where did you get the idea and the name? 

CM: This was our 2nd year. Last year, shortly after we formed, one of our steering committee members said he wanted to organized a bike scavenger hunt. So we did. Coming up with a clever name for events is always annoying so we thought, “Well, it involves three of our favorite things: bikes, beer and buildings….so why not just call it that!”

Happy participants! Photo provided by the Landmark Society for Western New York.

Happy participants! Photo provided by the Landmark Society for Western New York.

PiP: What’s the purpose or goal of BBB? 

CM: To have fun. To get out and see the city on two wheels. To see the exciting adaptive reuse projects that are happening all over the city. To see neighborhoods, parks, and buildings that a lot of people wouldn’t otherwise see or notice. Big picture, we (the YUPs) are also trying to engage as many youngish folks as possible. There is a an ever-growing community of young people in the area, especially in the city of Rochester, who are committed to their communities and are preservationists at heart.

PiP: Was it a success? 

CM: Yes, it’s a big hit and we’ll definitely do it again! This year we had 33 teams and just over 75 participants! We also had a bunch of local businesses and organizations who sponsored the event and provided in-kind donations of their awesome products for our prize baskets.

The beer garden! Photo courtesy of the Landmark Society of Western New York.

The beer garden! Photo courtesy of the Landmark Society of Western New York.

PiP: What was the best part of the event? 

CM: Watching everyone enjoy a cold beer or the purple “Pedaler’s Punch” that Lux Bar & Lounge prepared for our hot and tired cyclists.

Happy bikers and building lovers enjoying a cold beer. Photo courtesy of the Landmark Society of Western New York.

Happy bikers and building lovers enjoying a cold beer. Photo courtesy of the Landmark Society of Western New York.

PiP: Who are the YUPs?

CM: The YUPs are a group of youngish folks interested in preservation and community revitalization. We come from various walks of life and various professions—lawyers, planners, doctors, veterinarians, architects, writers, artists—but we all have one thing in common: we care about our communities and we believe our historic resources play an important role in any community’s revitalization.


What does “young” mean? Whatever you want it to! We’re targeting those oft-maligned by the media “millennials” (aged 20 to about 40) but, more importantly, we want to connect with like-minded people who are invested in their communities and are young at heart.

PiP: Sounds awesome! Can you offer any advice for groups wanting to do something similar to BBB? 

CM: Four tips for you:

  1. You need a dedicated and committed group of organizers. You don’t need a lot of people, you just need organized and committed people. In fact, if you have too many people it can become unwieldy. How you structure the organizing of an event like this depends on the structure and dynamics of your group. I happen to be one of the co-founders of the YUPs and I work for The Landmark Society, the organization with which the YUPs are affiliated, so it naturally falls to me to more or less lead the charge and to make sure we stay on track. In this case, delegating and giving people ownership of a task or an event can be challenging. However, in our 2nd year organizing this event, I found that people felt much more comfortable taking charge. If your group was formed more organically by people who just came together to form a group on their own, likely you’ll all have that sense of ownership to begin with. Regardless, I think it’s important to make sure someone is the point-person for the event as a whole or for each facet of the event. If everyone is running around doing a little bit of everything and no one is in charge of one thing, things can really easily slip through the cracks. Trust me. We had one or two last minute snafus.

  2. Partnerships are key. Starting an event from scratch is tricky, especially if your group/organization is new and doesn’t have a huge base from which to pull. Our first year, two days out from the scavenger hunt, we had three teams registered. Then one of our partners, a popular local blog that focuses on urban and preservation-related issues, shared the event through its social media. The flood gates opened and we breathed a huge sigh of relief.

  3. Start small and work your way up. You don’t want your first attempt to be a colossal failure. So don’t set yourself up for failure by biting off more than you can chew or by expecting unrealistic numbers.

  4. Learn and adapt. Your event won’t be perfect the first, second, or third time around. But have fun with it, make sure your participants have fun, and get feedback from them.

PiP: Where can we find the Landmark Society or YUP on Social Media? 

Thank you, Caitlin, YUPs, and The Landmark Society of Western New York! Great job on such a wonderful event.