Preservation Pop Quiz: A Georgian Mystery

Let’s pretend it’s not freezing cold and winter, shall we? (Though if you are a skier, you love this weather, I know.) Turn your attention to the southeast. Georgia, to be exact.

Mystery site in Georgia. Photo courtesy of Chad Carlson.

Mystery site in Georgia. Photo courtesy of Chad Carlson.

What’s your guess?

Mystery Answer: Sutton, VT

Last week I posted a photograph of an abandoned less building that’s missing all of its windows in Sutton, VT, asking if anyone had an idea of what it could be. While I love offering up a pop-quiz, I had only an inkling and no answer to this building. Your answers were creative: chicken house (perhaps a reference to the last quiz?), jail, sewing shop, school?

The Sutton Mystery.

The Sutton Mystery.

Thankfully, I can always count on the State Architectural Historian to lend a hand to my building quandaries. That is to say, while my guess was accurate, I owe the complete answer to the State Architectural Historian (thank you!). So what is it? Your hint: the neighboring property is the Portland Pipe Line Corporation.

This brick building is the former pump house for the Portland Pipe Line Corp., built in 1941. Originally 21.5 acres, the complex included the pump house, a brick boiler house, a Quonset hut, and a nearby eight single family dwellings for workers and their families. And here’s the most interesting part: at the time of construction, Sutton did not have electricity. Meaning, the pumping station was self sufficient and siphoned crude oil from the pipeline to power the generator in the boiler house. The pump house and all of the homes had their own electric plant.

The Not-a-Chicken-House Pop Quiz Answer

Most everyone thinks this building is a chicken house. That was my first guess, as it was many of yours.

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The quiz: identify this structure.

It’s not. Nor is it a sugar house. But, it does have to do with agriculture. This building is located on the former Vermont State Tree Farm in Essex, VT (Chittenden County). In fact, this building is a seed extractory building, part of the tree farm. What does that mean? (I asked the Vermont State Architectural Historian the same question! Below is his answer:)

Pine cones would be placed on mesh grates in front of the banks of windows, where the heat of the sun would dry them out and cause them to open up (“cone flaring”). The pinecone seeds would then be removed, and voila! New seeds for planting the next crop of Vermont’s seedlings, which were shipped all over the state for re-forestation projects. By the late 1800s, 80% of Vermont’s forests had been cleared. To counteract this deforestation, the Vermont State Tree Farm was established in 1922 to grow new trees. By 1924, this tree farm was transplanting 2 million seedlings a year. Prior to this, seedlings were imported from Germany.

Today the tree farm is home to recreational fields serving the town of Essex, Vermont.

Preservation Pop Quiz

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One side of the building.

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And the other side.

What is this building? How did you guess? Hint: it’s located in Vermont.

Preservation Pop Quiz

A pop quiz, of the “this one or that one” type, and why?

All other elements being equal (hypothetically), would you choose:

This railing?

Railing #1

Railing #1

OR this railing?

Railing #2

Railing #2

Please provide your reason for choosing one over the other.

Preservation Pop Quiz

Which windows are original? What other modifications have been made to this house?

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Add your thoughts in the comments.