The Forgotten Village: Greenbank’s Hollow

Drive across U.S. Route 2 in eastern Vermont and you’ll pass through a small town named Danville. Turn right in Danville on Brainerd Road, which will turn into Greenbanks Hollow Road, ending at the lost village of Greenbank’s Hollow. It’s a picturesque spot in Vermont: leafy dirt roads, farms on either side, the covered bridge at the crossroads, and the rush of the water at the bottom of the hill.

Entrance to the historic site - check the map and pick up a pamphlet to guide you through the numbered sites.

Entrance to the historic site – check the map and pick up a pamphlet to guide you through the numbered sites.

It’s hard to believe now, due to the small size of Danville and the quiet, rural road, but Greenbank’s Hollow was a bustling mill village in its day. The village grew around a woolen mill. Benjamin Greenback bought an existing mill in 1849, converted to a five story woolen mill that employed 45 people in the 1850s – the largest in the area. The company village included a post office, a store, a school, residences, a gristmill, and a sawmill. Sadly, in 1885 a fire destroyed much of the village, including the mill. Slowly the village residents left, businesses closed, and the school closed in 1912. {Summarized from the Danville Historical Society’s brief history page.}

Greenbanks Mill, South Danville, probably around 1885. Photo source: Danville Historical Society. Click for link.

Greenbanks Mill, South Danville, probably around 1885. Photo source: Danville Historical Society. Click for link.

The Division for Historic Preservation marker gives you a brief history of the site.

The Division for Historic Preservation marker gives you a brief history of the site.

A covered bridge in the middle of Greenbank's Hollow.

A covered bridge in the middle of Greenbank’s Hollow.

Remains of the mill.

Remains of the mill across the river.

Looking from the covered bridge to the gristmill foundations.

Looking from the covered bridge to the gristmill foundations.

All sites are identified with a green marker. The pamphlet (grab one at the main site entrance) will give you brief descriptions of each location

All sites are identified with a green marker. The pamphlet (grab one at the main site entrance) will give you brief descriptions of each location.

The village is all foundations, and it's a peaceful walk in a quiet Vermont spot.

The village is all foundations, and it’s a peaceful walk in a quiet Vermont spot.

The trail takes you through the trees for a few sites.

The trail takes you through the trees for a few sites.

The historic site exists today thanks to the efforts of the Danville Historical Society who preserved the site as a public park. Can’t make it to Greenbank’s Hollow? Check out this virtual e-book tour.

Abandoned Vermont: Hyde Manor

Happy Halloween preservationists and all. Here’s a special Abandoned Vermont: one of the largest, most notable (and probably haunted, if you’re into that sort of thing) – the Hyde Manor. Historical information is from the book, The Historic Architecture of Rutland County. Find more links at the end of this post.

Historic Hyde Manor. Click for source and more information.

Historic Hyde Manor. Click for source and more information.

“Resort development began in Sudbury at mid (19th) century. The Hyde family had long run a tavern and inn on the turnpike south of the village, but a fire destroyed the old inn in 1862, and in 1865 the 4 story Italianate style Hyde Manor was constructed. A mineral spring on the property was a prime attraction, and after 1871 guests arrived by rail via the Addison Branch railroad in neighboring Whiting and traveled south through Sudbury village to the manor. A hotel in the village and a nearby dance hall appear to have benefited from this traffic.

As Hyde Manor prospered and the tastes of the resort going public changed in the last years of the 19th century, numerous outbuildings with special recreational functions were added to the resort, including a casino (c. 1885) and an octagonal structure (c. 1900) used for gentlemen’s card games and smoking. Visitors could also elect a mile and a half carriage ride to the Manor boathouse (c. 1870) to enjoy an excursion on Lake Hortonia. Nearby, the Hortonia offered hotel lodging for those vacationers who preferred to stay directly on the lakeshore. At the turn of the century, as vacationers sought more informal ways to enjoy their leisure, summer residences began to appear in Sudbury.”

Recreation, leisure, and travel continued to change in American society; resort hotels such as Hyde Manor fell out of favor. The automobile era and the chain hotel emergence wiped out older establishments. The opening of the interstate further changed travel patterns. As customers dwindle, income shrinks and maintenance is postponed or neglected. Hyde Manor could no longer afford operations or maintenance, and it closed in the 1970s. Today the building has deteriorated to point of collapsed wings and floors, complete structural failure, and more.

Sadly, this is not a building that could be rehabilitated. Instead Hyde Manor sits quietly in ruins, more so with every passing season. Owners live on the property and must watch it give way to gravity, the earth, and time. And even in its current condition, you can stand on the side of the road and imagine what a beautiful, luxurious place this must have been for visitors.

Hyde Manor, 2011.

Hyde Manor, 2011.

Structural failure.

Structural failure.

More structural failure.

More structural failure.

Spooky curtains blowing in the wind!

Spooky curtains blowing in the wind!

Broken windows, curtains, shutters.

Broken windows, curtains, shutters.

Through a window. Unsafe floor conditions!

Through a window. Unsafe floor conditions!

The property is big, and creepy.

The property is big, and creepy.

The front of the manor.

The front of the manor.

So many architectural details remain on this failing building.

So many architectural details remain on this failing building.

For more information read here: The Fall of Hyde Manor, Haunted Hotel, Hyde Manor (historic photos, too), and more Hyde Manor. Note to the curious: respect the owners’ property and privacy.

Fort Popham, Maine

Fort Popham in Phippsburg, Maine is a coastal defense battery on the Kennebuc River in Phippsburg, Maine. Construction on this semi-circular granite block fort began in 1861 (for the Civil War) and stopped in 1869, never to be completed. The fort was garrisoned again during the Spanish-American War and World War I, though eventually became obsolete with the construction of nearby Fort Baldwin. The fort included 35 cannons, all in two levels of casements.  Fort Popham is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This summer I visited Fort Popham and was struck by the beauty of the granite structure, particularly the casements and staircases (see photos below). The interpretive signage was sufficient, though more information would have been helpful in understanding how the fort had been changed over the centuries. The conditions appear worrisome; conservation work is obviously needed. I was actually surprised that you could walk anywhere on the second level. And the roof had been long ago paved in asphalt. It was an interesting series of repairs and lack of repairs.

View from the top: see the two levels of casements.

View from the top: see the two levels of casements.

Looking to the other side.

Looking to the other side.

The casements where the cannons would have been. The vaulted brick ceilings are striking.

The casements where the cannons would have been. The vaulted brick ceilings are striking.

Texture, everywhere!

Texture, everywhere!

Casement construction.

Casement construction interpretive panel.

The row behind the casements - hide when the cannons are firing!

The row behind the casements – hide when the cannons are firing! And look at the size of those granite blocks.

The brick ceilings of the casements are in need of conservation work.

The brick ceilings of the casements are in need of conservation work.

Another example.

Another example. You can see more of the structure in this image, too.

The beautiful granite staircase. Fort Popham was considered a marvel of its time.

The beautiful granite staircase. Fort Popham was considered a marvel of its time.

Cannon markings, where the cannon would slide back and forth.

Cannon markings, where the cannon would slide back and forth.

View out one of the fort's windows.

View out one of the fort’s windows.

Here is an instance where I wanted to know what had changed, and what wasn't completed.

Here is an instance where I wanted to know what had changed, and what wasn’t completed.

And again, what has changed? What hadn't been finished?

And again, what has changed? What hadn’t been finished?

Fort Popham is intriguing, beautiful and definitely worth a visit if you are in the Freeport/Brunswick/Phippsburg area of Maine. And just down the road is the well known Fort Popham State Park, where the beach seems to go on forever at low tide. It’s spectacular. And being at a salt water beach with pine trees rather than just sky and dunes is quite a new experience for this Long Island girl.

Preservation Photos #125

The Monroe Elementary School, constructed 1926, is the home of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas. Photo taken June 2006.

From the National Park Service:

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) is one of the most pivotal opinions ever rendered by that body. This landmark decision highlights the U.S. Supreme Court’s role in affecting changes in national and social policy. Often when people think of the case, they remember a little girl whose parents sued so that she could attend an all-white school in her neighborhood. In reality, the story of Brown v. Board of Education is far more complex.

In December, 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court had on its docket cases from Kansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, and Virginia, all of which challenged the constitutionality of racial segregation in public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court had consolidated these five cases under one name, Oliver Brown et al. v. the Board of Education of Topeka. One of the justices later explained that the U.S. Supreme Court felt it was better to have representative cases from different parts of the country. They decided to put Brown first “so that the whole question would not smack of being a purely Southern one.”

Learn more about the school and its relation to Civil Rights here. Read the building history from the HABS documentation here.

Preservation Photos #124

The Justin Smith Morrill Homestead in Strafford, VT.

The Justin Smith Morrill Homestead is a Vermont State Historic Site, open May – October.  This Gothic Revival cottage, designed by Morrill, is a shade of pink.  Also on site is a carriage barn, horse barn, cow barn, sheep barn and corn crib, representing a gentleman’s farm in rural Vermont.

Reef Bay Sugar Mill

And the cold weather has returned to Vermont. And because Mother Nature has a sense of humor, it is snowing today whereas last Monday I drove with my windows open and wore short sleeves. Anyway, I’m sure you all have similar crazy weather patterns.

So, let’s go back to the USVI, shall we? We left off at the end of the Reef Bay Trail hike, which brings us to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill. Originally a cattle and cotton plantation, it was converted to a sugar plantation and sugar cane production in the late 18th century.

The Reef Bay Sugar Mill, as seen from the horse mill.

This sugar mill is part of a National Register of Historic Places as the Reef Bay Sugar Factory Historic District. While the Virgin Islands are home to many sugar factory ruins, the Reef Bay mill is the best preserved example, partially because it operated longer and later than any other mills. One reason for its longevity is that production power was converted to steam power in the 1860s. You’ll recall that the Annaberg Sugar Mill operated off wind and horse power.

View from the trail.

You can see, outside and inside this section of the factory, the steam power mechanisms. This engine room was built to house the mechanisms.

The steam engine.

In this picture, take note of the frame and sheet metal roof over the ruins. This is a common method (adding a lightweight roof) to protect a site without altering its features. The roof is clearly distinguishable from the historic building.

Inside the factory, these boiling coppers are more visible than those at Annaberg. This is where the sugar was boiled and processed.

Individual view of one of the coppers.

Looking into the boiling house.

Weathered door frame, hinges and building masonry.

Weathered bricks. All of the weathered and worn masonry provided excellent color contrast, which made the site even more interesting.

The Reef Bay Sugar Mill was documented by the Historic American Engineering Record, and if you look at the photographs in that collection, you’ll see that it was documented prior to site stabilization and the sheet metal roof.  The site operated as a sugar factory until the early 20th century. Read the data pages of the HAER documentation for a full history.

The only downside of the trail and the historic site is the poor condition of the interpretive panels, which have faded and developed a tacky surface, which make reading the information difficult on some. Obviously, the Virgin Islands National Park faces budget cuts, like all other parks, but it is a shame that the history has to suffer. If you want to get the most out of your visit, read background information on the site or the HAER documentation before you go.  The views, the scenery and the historic site are certainly worth a hike down the Reef Bay Trail.

Other USVI posts: Preservation Photos #122. Annaberg Sugar Mill. Preservation Photos #121. Home Sweet HomeHistoric Sites on the Reef Bay Trail.

Bennington Battle Day

Unless you live in Vermont or are a Revolutionary War history enthusiast, you probably haven’t heard of Bennington Battle Day. It is a Vermont state holiday that commemorates the important Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777, a victory that helped to deplete British forces and supplies, and led to their eventual defeat at Saratoga. The battle actually occurred in New York, but was over weapons and munitions kept in Bennington. I cannot summarize the Battle, but the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation has a well-written, understandable summary about the prelude, the battle, and the monument. The monument, a 306′ tall obelisk, will be lit tonight from dusk-10pm. Today, Bennington, Vermont, celebrates the holiday with a parade, a road, picnics, and a living history reenactment including the firing of real cannons!

Bennington Battle Monument is one of Vermont’s four state historic sites dedicated to the Revolutionary War; it is in good company with Mount Independence, Hubbardton Battlefield, and the Old Constitution House.

Weddings at Historic Sites

Thank goodness it’s summer, which means a few months without homework! And it’s wedding season. Some of the most important considerations in choosing a ceremony/reception location (to me) are: 1) that it’s historic, 2) that it’s not a typical sit-eat-dance ballroom setting, 3) that it’s in beautiful Vermont – or where you’d want to get married, 4) that it’s not too far away so we can actually meet with the necessary vendors, etc. for planning, 5) that poor weather will not ruin anything, and of course 6) that it’s within our budget. Maybe it’s because I’m letting the preservationist in me take over (okay, and the budget), but most places just do not fit with everyone.

So, fellow preservationists and those attached to preservationists, how did you go about choosing a wedding location? Did it have to be historic? Did you make sure to choose a venue that is part of a non-profit? What restrictions did you have? Or, did a historic venue not matter for your wedding? I did not spend my childhood dreaming of my fairytale wedding; I must have started once I uncovered my love of historic preservation. And thus, I am finding the task of choosing the perfect place to be very difficult, even with the beautiful inns and barns throughout the state.

Well I bring up this atypical subject on PiP to ask for advice from fellow wedding planner preservationists. And just for some fun stories about planning, venues, decisions, and the actual day. How did preservation fit into your wedding? Please share; I’d love to hear. Or, what would you do? Plan a summer wedding.

Of course, flamingos will be involved in our wedding.

Preservation Photos #34

At Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA, the Redstone School moved by Henry Ford because of its significance with the girl Mary of the poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb.