Advent Chapel/Pond Road Chapel
National Register Nomination Information:
The Advent Chapel, commonly known as the Pond Road Chapel, is a 3 x 3 bay, 1-story gable-roofed, clapboarded vernacular Greek Revival structure with a pedimented principal facade. It is located near the geographic center of Vernon, which borders the Connecticut River in the southeast corner of Vermont and is situated on a level upland formerly exclusively relegated to farming. Recent subdivision of mid-nineteenth century farms is scattered along Pond Road and concentrated at its intersection with Huckle Hill Road to the South. The chapel exhibits original 19th century materials, including historic ceiling and border wallpaper, and interior furnishings.
The one story, gable roofed chapel of 3 x 3 bays has a post and beam frame and is set on a brick foundation measuring approximately 24' x 34'. The slate gable roof has an interior brick ridge chimney with a corbelled cap projecting from the west rear. Sided with original clapboards, the simple structure is further articulated with corner boards, plain watertable, fascia boards and a widely overhanging box cornice with gable returns on the west rear and a flush boarded pediment on the east front facade. Sash is 6/6 with plain trim and simple unmolded cornices. Louvered wood shutters held open with iron 'S' fasteners flank the windows. The three bay principal facade has a central entrance with a door having two tiers of vertical raised panels, those on top being the longest, all set in plain trim with a simple unmolded cornice. Small wooden louvered vents are located just below the fascia boards on the side facades and in a similar location on the otherwise blind rear facade.
Certain exterior construction details are important to note as virtually all of the materials are original. The clapboards are fastened with cut nails supplemented with an occasional wire nail and are applied with 3-1/2" exposed to the weather on the principal front facade and 4-1/2" exposed on the south, west and north facades. Sash is set in openings measuring 6' 4" x 3' and exhibit some original crown glass and all original iron latches. The original shutters measure 18-1/2" x 6'5-1/2" and the door measures 7'5-1/2" x 4'.
The interior of the chapel is plaster on lath with plain baseboards, chairails, windows with plain trim and unmolded cornices, boards with iron clothes hooks in all four corners and 10-12" wide board floors fastened with wire nails. Of particular importance is the historic late 19th c. tan-colored ceiling paper which is decorated with clouds and gold stars and a border paper with garlands of flowers and gold ribbons, all in unrestored condition. The pulpit, organ and choir areas are on a simple raised platform at the west rear.
Interior furnishings are nineteenth century and include: original oil lamps and brackets; a jacquard ingrain woven carpet in the aisles with green, gold, yellow, cream and orange hues woven in floral patterns; deacon's benches or pews in three sections with curved armrests, plain spindles, bookracks underneath and creamy yellow paint with a pinstripe; and three captain's chairs at the rear of the pulpit to match the pews.
The "cottage organ" is made by J. Estey & Co. of nearby Brattleboro, Vermont, and is #18,501. The drop leaf altar table with turned legs is in front of a bible stand with a chamfered post which holds a "Hardings Medium Edition" Bible of 1860. A "Champion #7 cast iron box woodstove sits in the southeast corner of the chapel, with its stovepipe also heating the interior by running down the center aisle and into the chimney above the pulpit. Electric light fixtures of c. 1920 are on chains hanging from the ceiling and have white molded glass globes.
The condition of the finish of both the interior and exterior are good, with peeling paint, cracked plaster and hanging ceiling paper the most outstanding problems. Some deterioration of floor joists is evident from the center of the side foundation wall where there are vent spaces.
Horse sheds originally lined the west and north perimeter of the chapel property. They are no longer standing.
Pond Road Chapel is a very good example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture as practiced in rural Vermont. Its historic nineteenth century fabric, including unusual ceiling and border wall paper, and its original interior furnishings remain intact. The Advent Chapel was built in the outlying farming district of Vernon by the Second Advent Society in 1860. It has been in continuous use by the Second Advent Society and its successor, the Advent Christian Church, since its construction.
People in Vernon who embraced the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ first met in homes and schoolhouses to conduct their services. By the year 1860, numbers of believers had grown to such an extent that a Second Advent Society was formed and arrangements were made to lease land from George W. Lee on what was then South, or City Road, in order that a chapel be constructed.(1) Enthusiasm was such that the chapel, which could seat 150 persons, was begun in May and formally dedicated in July of 1860, for a cost of $1,000.(2) The original lease provides interesting details, such as that horse sheds were to be erected on the west and north sides of the lot, with a "good and sufficient board fence" completing the enclosure of the lot at any place not having sheds.(3) Also interesting to note is the fact that quite a bit of writing was given to describing George Lee and his heirs' right to all of the manure that would accumulate on the lot.(4) The committee who signed the deed for the Second Advent Society were: Eleazor G. Scott, William H. Hewton and Robert Allen.(5)
The Adventists believed in full immersion for baptism and used the nearby Connecticut River on the site of the old ferry.(6) However, the baptism site was later changed to Robert Allen's ice pond in the interests of safety.(7)
Many outstanding speakers have spoken from the Chapel pulpit over the years. These have included D. L. Moody, Ira Sankey Goerge [sic] Sederquest, Dr. J. William Denton, Reverend I. M. Blanchard, and Joshua Himes.(8)
The Chapel was the primary place of worship for the Adventists until a larger church was built in South Vernon in 1909.(9) The Advent Chapel continued to be used, with mid-week services during warm weather and later with a less frequent series of Sunday evening meetings in August. In 1969 the Vernon Historians, who were interested in preserving the building, leased the building from the Advent Christian Church and the land from Arthur, Hattie and Theodore Streeter.(10) The exterior was painted at that time and windows repaired, with the interior undergoing a thorough cleaning. In 1984, title to the building and land was transferred to the Vernon Historians in order to continue its preservation, with the stipulation that the Advent Christians Church have the right to conduct services there.(11)
This small, simple chapel in the midst of the farmland of Vernon retains its original nineteenth century appearance and finish due, in part, to the reduced financial circumstances of its previous owners The present owners intend to undertake needed repairs and establish a program of preservation of the existing materials and finishes where possible, only replacing those materials that have deteriorated beyond repair.
Thus, with the transfer of the care of the building to those better able to perform it, worship services will be able to continue in Advent Chapel for many years to come.
Child, Hamilton, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windham County, VT, 1724-1884. Syracuse, NY: The Syracuse Journal Co., 1884.
Hemenway, Abbie M., Vermont Historical Gazetteer, vol. V. Brandon, VT: Mrs. Carrie E. H. Page, 1891.
Vaughan, Vera, Pond Road Chapel, Vernon, VT, 1984, notes compiled from various sources.
Vernon Land Records.
Washburn, A. H., esq., and Lucinda W. B. Washburn, The History of the Town of Vernon. Ludlow, VT: A. H. Hemenway, 1885.
DATE ENTERED: May 9, 1985.
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