Abandoned Vermont: Shaftsbury House

Driving by in the summertime, this house gave that abandoned aura. Driving by in the winter, it gave me the same feel. Finally, I had an opportunity to pull over and gaze at the building. The verdict? On a frigid (2 degrees) February day, this house looked frozen (actually frozen). With snow over my knees (and not the proper boots), I couldn’t get very close. Abandoned, vacant, seasonal or used for storage – it’s hard to tell.

Many readers always ask for information about the photographs on Preservation in Pink. Information is not always available. But, lucky for us, this house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Center Shaftsbury Historic District (see #22, Section 7, page 50).

The ca. 1850  Norman R. and C. Amelia Douglass House.

The ca. 1850 Norman R. and C. Amelia Douglass House. It looks as though someone started to paint… sort of (note the white and gray on the first story).

A bit about the architecture (from the NR): This ca. 1850 Greek Revival style house is a two-story, three by three bay gable front with sidehall plan, a two bay wing and rear attached shed. The single story porch wraps around the west and south elevations of the main house block.

The house is clad in clapboard on all sides except the area sheltered by the porch, which is flushboard. The double leaf doors with stained glass on the front porch were likely added at the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps when the windows were changed from 6/6 to 1/1.

Beautiful mature trees on the property.

Beautiful mature trees on the property. As for the house: note the 6/6 sash on the second floor and the 1/1 sash on the first floor. The first floor windows would be newer. Also note the tapered corner pilasters.

Side elevation, in which the house looks frozen.

Side elevation, in which the house looks frozen (one clue is the snow between the storm window and the interior sash).

A bit of history (from the NR): This house was owned and built by Norman R. Douglass (1818-1897) who from 1851-1856 was one of the principals in the Eagle Square Manufacturing Company of South Shaftsbury, a long-lived and successful company that formed for the purpose of manufacturing accurate metal carpenter’s squares. His wife was C. Amelia Douglass (1828-1919).

Clark and Rhoda Stone lived here in 1869 and in 1880. The Child’s Gazetteer lists Stone as a livestock dealer and farmer with two hundred acres of land, as well as one hundred acres of timber land in Glastenbury and part interested in 2,500 acres on West Mountain in Shaftsbury. Subsequent owners included Ralph Bottom and Harry Ellison.

Sunny, frigid day.

Sunny, frigid day, and nothing shoveled or plowed.

View from across the street.

View from across the street.

At the time of the National Register nomination (1988), the property was owned by Priscilla & Woflgang Ludwig and the house was rented to tenants. A search reveals that Ludwig Dairy remains in operation in Shaftsbury, today. Where does this leave the beautiful house, 27 years after the NR? Often old farmhouses are used for storage or seasonal use, as descendants built new houses down the road for one reason or another. The Douglass House appears to be generally maintained and on land used by the family farm.

This is large cement block barn sits behind the Douglass House. It and a few other farm buildings appear to be in use.

This is large cement block barn sits behind the Douglass House. It and a few other farm buildings appear to be in use.

The conclusion? It’s not quite abandoned, but it certainly does not appear to be lived in. Hopefully there is a brighter future for this Greek Revival house.

The picturesque road adjacent to the Douglass House.

The picturesque road adjacent to the Douglass House.

Abandoned Vermont: Brandon House

Please note that this house is for sale, not abandoned. But I cannot answer to how long it’s been for sale. 

House for sale can hold the appearance and aura of abandonment. Of course there are reasons for this. Perhaps a family member died and it’s an estate sale. Or it was a seasonal home, rarely used. This house in Brandon, Vermont gives that longing look, the look that abandoned or neglected houses carry. It strikes me as a house filled with relics of the last family to the live there; culturally interesting items, but not much that someone would want to truck back to his or her home.

brandon1

Aside from that modern garage door, the house maintains much of its architectural integrity.

White house in the white winter snow. The windows look dark and cold, and the house immediately seemed to have that abandoned lure.

White house in the white winter snow. The windows look dark and cold, and the house immediately seemed to have that abandoned lure.

brandon3

A beautiful ca. 1850 Greek Revival house.

brandon5

For sale by owner, the sign says.

brandon4

With a beautiful barn.

Cross your fingers for this house; all it needs is a new owner and some love.

Stuck Inside?

If it’s snowing in Virginia (according to @umwhisp), it’s certainly snowing up north.

Sigh. What will we do with ourselves? Last week, I mentioned historical documentaries as a way to hide from the cold and not feel guilty about being inside. Are you sick of the glowing screens yet? Here’s another (mostly) inside adventure. Or at least something to make you feel better about being inside, dashing from one warm place to the next.

When you walk into a building, look up. Seriously. Do this everywhere. Most of us will scan the room to get our surroundings, and never look above our eye level. Do you know what you’re missing?

Ceilings! 

Look up!

Look up!

Okay, maybe this a form of entertainment only for preservation nerds. But hear me out. Preservation ABCs: C is for Ceiling as well as Battling Poor Lighting Choices begin to address the overlooked (or shall I say under-looked, ha) importance of ceilings and lighting and all elements above our heads.

Take note of where you are: residence, business, office. How high is the ceiling? What is the material: drywall, tin, plaster, tiles? What’s your immediate reaction when you look at it? What would you rather see? How do you define a good ceiling?

This exercise is not limited to historic buildings. Are you stuck with drop ceilings and florescent lighting? Wouldn’t something – anything be an improvement? Popcorn ceilings, aside.

Recently I was with a friend who mentioned she never thought to look up in places. And now, she has been noticing ceilings. Hooray!

Give it a try. Walk into a building. Look up. Once you learn to look up, it’s fun! And how you view your surroundings will be forever changed. Or you’ll think my love for good ceilings is verging on unhealthy.

Frozen Sunday

Shining sun, frozen Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT.

Shining sun, frozen Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT.

Standing on the breakwater.

Standing on the breakwater.

Looking back to land.

Looking back to land.

Walking on a frozen lake is still a novelty to me! Hope you had a lovely Sunday.

Sounds Beneath Your Feet

In winter, the world tends to be quiet as blankets of snow soften the air, and bring peace to an otherwise bustling life. Fewer people venture outside, doors and windows remain closed, and only the intrepid souls dare spend more time outside than necessary. Running is my intrepid winter outdoor activity. (However, don’t be fooled. I do not handle the cold well and my toes are always cold from November – May.) Running gets me outside and it forces me to make peace with this northern, chilly quiet. It’s a good season for observation, providing views that do not exist with leafy trees.

Beyond observing with my eyes; I’ve been listening, for more than just cars or other runners. The wind howls sometimes, through the barren, icy branches and across the frozen lake. At other moments it’s still. I hear the familiar rustle of my running outfit and most noticeably the crunch of the snow beneath the treads of my sneakers, or the grit of the sand and salt on the pavement. The boardwalk by the waterfront creaks sharply in the cold as I run over it. Running allows me the chance to constantly hear the ground surface. The new snow is lighter, quieter.

When talking about historical accuracy, we do mention sounds of the environment: horses, cars, music, electronics, fans – the differences between the decades and centuries and how it affects your experience or visit to a historic site. How often do we discuss the ground surface, aside from flooring inside a house? Dirt, cobblestones, bricks, cork, wood, concrete, asphalt: what do these materials bring to mind? If you’re walking through a historic district, do you consider if a dirt road, concrete street or asphalt paved road is more appropriate? What if there are horses on the street? Do you expect to hear a certain clomp of the horseshoes, for example?

What sounds do you notice in the winter that you might not in the busy summer months?

The ice and snow of the lake have the sound of crunching ice and water rushing beneath it (a bit unnerving if you're unaccustomed to it). This makes for treacherous winter walking.

The ice and snow of the lake have the sound of crunching ice and water rushing beneath it (a bit unnerving if you’re unaccustomed to it). This makes for treacherous winter walking.

Preservation Photos #221

20140225-093232.jpg
The Barton Academy and Graded School is still in operation as an elementary school. This 1907 building is seen here on a crisp, sunny winter afternoon in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Winter Festivals in Historic Places

Are you in need of traveling? Or in need of good weather? It’s that time of year to be wishing for such things. But we have four more weeks of winter. Accepting that fact, I’m adding a few winter festivals to travel-list, hoping to remember these for next year. There are plenty of small festivals, including many in Vermont (Stowe, Burlington, Middlebury), but I’m thinking of larger festivals or carnivals.

(1) Winterlude in Ottawa, Canada – particularly for the Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’ largest skating rink. The entire site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A winter destination for next year: skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

A winter destination for next year: skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Photo from wikipedia.

(2) Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, particularly for the ice castle.

An ice palace and fireworks at Saranac Lake in the early 1900s. Click for photo source.

An ice palace and fireworks at Saranac Lake in the early 1900s. Click for photo source.

(3) MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE (Montreal High Lights Festival) for vibrant culture, lots of lights, music and a big party in downtown Montreal.

What’s on your list? 

Words on Winter, Snow, Frost

It’s going to be winter for a while in Vermont. And apparently in most places, even Georgia. Stay warm and safe, all! Aside from global warming, freakish weather or whatever you believe, the freezing southern temperatures and wintry precipitation come as a shock to me. For the six years that I lived in the south (Virginia and North Carolina), I recall only a handful of snowfalls. One happened to be on President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, which made for an extra special day. The other snowfalls were in Virginia. I recall a few inches that would melt by late morning.

Mother Nature definitely entertained herself for those six years of my southern life by bringing snow to New York the weeks before and after I visited. That is no exaggeration. Basically, I didn’t see a good snowfall for six years.

Enter my Vermont life, and the snowiest winters ever (for me), and the coldest I’ve ever been. Still not a skier, winters are not my favorite. Blame the problem of permanently cold feet. But winter comes with starkly crisp sunny days, the smell of wood burning stoves, white blanketed landscapes, and leafless trees (all the better for photographing buildings). Still, January and February are long and winter lingers long past its welcome. Perhaps my southern life lingers in my preference to warm weather. Until summer, when Vermont is absolutely perfect.

Climate and weather are so critical to defining place, wouldn’t you say? They serve as foundation to memories. What temperature was it? What were you wearing? What were you doing? Start telling a story and see how long it takes before weather or climate plays a roll.

What are thoughts on weather and place? Do you stories include the two? I’d love to know.

Burlington, VT. It's cold here. Thankfully sunny days and frozen lakes make up for the cold.

Burlington, VT. It’s cold here. Thankfully sunny days and frozen lakes make up for the cold.