Monday, November 28, 2011

North Bennington, Vermont, Walking Tour, #11-16

Rather than wait until I have a finished presentation, I am posted without all the photographs and the maps. I will add them as I can.

#11 - c.1820's mill housing. Sage built this simple housing for his employees along Sage St. The only frill is the return on the eaves. The next mill owner, Vermont Mills, also built dwellings here for its employees. The housing was owned by the mill until 1957.

#12 -The factory now at the end of Sage St. is the third factory to be built here. It was built in 1920 after fire destroyed the E.Z.Waist Co. in 1913.

Note how the rich and poor lived side by side. The factory owner wanted to be able to see his property, to care for it and show it off.

Cross the bridge on North Street. This is a good place to see how the creek becomes a mill pond. The bridge was not here in 1856. For an extra excursion, turn left on Lake Paran Rd., the road along the creek. The road goes along the creek, past the new railroad bridge, where the dam burst in 1852, and come to the park at Lake Paran. Return and continue left up the hill to

#13 – Vermont Mills housing, c. 1825, probably for foremen as it is fancier than the mill housing on Sage Street.

Here the 2 family cottage has wings and an entablature – the trim and hood around the front doors.

Turn right on Mechanic Street.

Mechanic St. was not here. That’s why -

#14a – Mr. Draper’s barn sits in such an awkward location – this was his backyard: These houses weren’t here.

Turn left on to Prospect St. - in 1781 the route across Bingham Hill to Bennington.

#14 – The Draper House, c. 1850, is a Greek Revival mansion. When this was built much of the United States embraced the new Gothic and Italianate styles. But many dramatic Greek Revival houses are going up in this part of Vermont and upstate New York. J Draper, Jr. built a grand house with 2 story columns, lots of trim, side wings and an amazing delicate fan light.

# 15 – P E Ball House – Ball, the town blacksmith, built his shop at the bridge after the flood. The porch and front gable are later renovations.

#16 - Col. JH Walbridge House, Italianate – the shape is traditional: side entrance, 2 windows on the front. The low hipped roof and curly corbels at the eaves, the porch that extends around 3 sides, make it Italianate. The style was just beginning to be popular in town.

Monday, November 21, 2011

North Bennington, Vermont, Walking Tour, #2a

The Wellings' barn

The Wellings, successful village merchants and mill owners, were also farmers, as were their neighbors. Their house and large barn in the center of the village shows the rural nature of N. Bennington in the 1850s. The barn was dismantled and moved here from Pittstown, NY, about 1827.

The roof is a fine example of a slate layer's skill. This particular slate pattern, mixing the colors available from the slate quarries in nearby Poultney, VT, is seen on many roofs in N. Bennington, (indicating that one roofing company laid most of the local roofs, probably in the 1880’s).

North Bennington, Vermont, Walking Tour, #4a,8-10

#4a – Hawkes, Loomis & Co. store, rear

The back of the building is the service side - note loading doors on every floor and the hoist cover at the peak of the roof. The corner columns (pilasters) are well defined, with bases and capitals. There is no skimping even at the warehouse end of the store.

Walk up Nash Street, which wasn’t here. Nor were

#8 - the 1965 fire station,

#9 - the livery stable, and

#10 - Nash’s blacksmith shop.

All were part of a world to come in 1856.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

North Bennington, Vermont, Walking Tour, #4-7

#4 – Hawkes, Loomis & Co. Store: a Greek Temple in wood. Both Powers Market (#1) and this store have gables outlined as pediments; here are corner pilasters instead of columns. The front porch is a later addition which softens the strong shape of the building.

#5 -To the right of Hawkes and Loomis’ store, down the street, is Paran Creek.

Stop at the bridge to see why Joseph Haviland, and the mill owners who came after him, wanted the ‘privilege’ to dam the creek for water power. In 1856 one mill stood on the park site, another where the fire station is today. Both, owned by Bronson Harmon, manufactured carpenter squares.

#6- Red Mill, built by Bronson Harmon after the flood destroyed his first factory. The mill has had numerous additions and other uses since then.e to see why Joseph Haviland, and the mill owners who came after him, wanted the ‘privilege’ to dam the creek for water power. In 1856 one mill stood on the park site, another where the fire station is today. Both, owned by Bronson Harmon, manufactured carpenter squares.

Coming back toward the square:

# 7 – PE Ball’s blacksmith shop, c. 1855, replaced a blacksmith shop swept away by the flood. This building was bought for $3.00 in 1878, to become the town’s first fire station. The arches and fanciful shingle patterns were added when the shop was remodeled. The large doors came even later when motorized fire trucks replaced horse drawn apparatus. The second floor was used for meetings of the volunteer firemen. It is now a private residence.

2011 map for N. Bennington walking tour

Here is the map for the actual walking tour, a route around the village paying attention to what was here in 1856.

It is broken into 3 loops for easy walking.
The red tour is the early center with its mills around Paran Creek, and Prospect Street.
The green tour is the west side, just 2 roads: West Street and what is now Bank Street, then the road to White Creek.
The black tour shows the village expanding toward the railroad and north to Shaftsbury.
Each tour includes an extra excursion or two.

Again, this is a work in progress, made possible by the flexibility of the internet. I know I will change it over time. I hope it will be improved with the help of you, the walker.

North Bennington, Vermont, Walking Tour, #1- 3


Starting at Lincoln Park

( I need to take new picture of the store. Posting the whole tour, 40+ buildings, to the blog is a work in progress. Obviously the maps need to be here too.)

#1. Thatcher and Welling Store, 1833, The market was the mill store for the Welling’s paper mill. Thatcher was Edward Welling’s brother-in-law. The market is a Greek temple in brick. The curved bricks for the round columns were specially made for building columns. The second floor extension under the portico was added later.

# 2 – EM Welling House, 1827, has 2 front doors. One faces Main Street. The other looked out over the Welling mill yard and store, to his factory on the site of Haviland's grist and saw mills. The house has been expanded over the years, each wing sympathetic to travelers coming into the square see the original house but with its own identity factory, on the site of Haviland’s grist and saw mills. This is the classic Georgian way to set a house, so it can be seen from a distance, as one approaches.

#3 – The Union Store originally sat where the McCullough Library is today. It was moved in 1920. It is a stripped down version of the Greek Revival style. The gable faces the street; the returns on the eaves suggest the pediments which are so clearly defined in the buildings on either side. Note that all 3 buildings, though different width and heights, have 3 windows - 3 bays - across the front.

North Bennington, Vermont Walking Tour

The village is rich with 200 years of architecture, from simple vernacular homes and factories to those built by well known architects.

For this tour I have chosen to focus on one date, 1856, to show the village at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. I hope to add other tours highlighting later periods and styles.

The house names used on this tour are those which appear on the 1856 map.

The village is here because of Paran Creek. The creek drops 100 ft from Lake Paran to the Walloomsac River.

West Street came first. In 1765, it connected Joseph Haviland’s home

to his mill on the creek. Haviland held the ‘patent’ to dam the creek,

to use the water to power his mill, granted by the Rensselaer family who controlled the land around Albany, NY.

Next Main St. was cut north to Shaftsbury. In 1781, Prospect Street was laid out over Bingham Hill to Bennington; and in 1825, Water Street was added, going south along Paran Creek to the Walloomsac River.

By 1856 North Bennington was a village of about 80 homes and 8 factories, 6 of which were powered by that falling water.

4 years earlier the railroad bridge which dammed Lake Paran had collapsed. The subsequent flood tore through the center of the village, destroying mills and houses. The map shows how quickly the residents rebuilt.

In 1856, Bank Street went to the town of White Creek. Park, Pleasant and Houghton Streets were roads to farms. Every road was dirt.

Lincoln Park was a working delivery and storage yard. The stores here were built to serve the factories and the people who worked in them.


I haven't written since last January.

I have been tending to family responsibilities.

How much more acceptable it would be if I could claim writer's block. The feminist in me laughs and replies to Virginia Wolfe, "Yes, I do have a room of my own."

I know that taking care of life for the last 40 years has made me a better architect.