Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Persistence of the Salt Box Plan, Part 2

The original owners of these houses in Bennington County, Vermont, have ancestors who lived on the New England seacoast. 

Why is that useful information? 

Settlers built what they knew. 
We have seen this in the houses the Dutch built in New Amsterdam, in the Victorian era houses in Oregon which look like the 1840's houses on the East Coast their owners had left behind, in the houses in Ohio's Western Reserve which copy those their owners knew in their home towns on the Connecticut River. 

House-wrights in new settlements built what they had been taught 'back home'.  They might have seen a pattern book; but those guides showed the Classic Orders, complex roof details, stairs and railing, mantles and entrances: decoration - not basic post and beam framing systems. A house-wright learned his craft by apprenticing to a master-builder: hands-on. He built what he had been taught and had seen.

Bennington County house-wrights copied the saltbox plans they knew.

Here are two examples.

Samuel Safford came with his family to Bennington, VT, in 1761. The next year he built the town's first corn mill and a saw mill. In 1769, he built this house for his family, 2 stories with a tight front stair against the center chimney, a large room on either side, a long narrow kitchen behind with small service rooms on either end - the salt box plan. The Safford family had lived in Hardwick. MA. Their parents had lived in Ipswich, MA. Houses with this floor plan, pre-dating this one in Bennington, can easily be found in both towns.

The Safford Mills Inn is now a B&B and a restaurant, open to the public.

The house where Robert Frost wrote 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is also open to the public. It is a museum in Shaftsbury, VT.

Built by Amaziah Martin in 1769 it uses the salt box floor plan with a variation, a center hall. The chimneys were located on the end walls which are stone.
Martin was part of a group of Baptists who came to Shaftsbury about the same time that Bennington was being settled.
The Baptist families came from Dover Plains, NY. Their parents had come to Dover Plains from the area around Smithfield, RI, where there are many salt box houses. 

Both of these houses were dramatically updated several times in the last 240 years. For an architectural historian - me - they are fascinating to visit.

I have researched the family lines for the Saffords and the Martins. I think it adds little to my thesis to include those genealogies here.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Looved reading this thank you