Brattleboro Retreat (Vermont Asylum for the Insane)

Brattleboro Retreat (Vermont Asylum for the Insane)

Site: V02-34
Municipality: Brattleboro, VT
Location: Linden Street and Upper Dummerston Road
Site Type: Institution
Vt Survey No: 0301-19
UTMs: (Zone 18) A. 699450/4749125. B. 699450/4747575. C. 697540/4747274. D. 697675/4749575.

National Register Nomination Information:


The Brattleboro Retreat, a 1000-acre comprehensive mental health treatment center founded in 1834, consists of 58 buildings and sites, 38 of which are contributing historic structures that date from 1838 to 1938. The complex encompasses large-scaled brick buildings for patient accommodations and therapy, ancillary cottages, residences, spring house, tower, and farm buildings, all set in a scenic environment of landscaped grounds, open meadows, woods, and fields. Building styles range from Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Colonial Revival to suburban residential.

The core of the institution is a group of nine buildings, located principally on the east side of Route 30 (Linden Street, previously Asylum Street), overlooking the Retreat Meadows lake and the West River to the north. To the southeast is the Brattleboro Common, above which can be seen the Wantastiquet Mountain on the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River. To the west is the Retreat Park and Tower (13), 250 feet above the level of the main buildings. At the heart of the well-maintained complex is the classically detailed red brick, slate-roofed Main Building (1), begun in 1838, whose series of connected wings and returns represent constant expansion during the nineteenth century. Facing the Main Building on the west side of Linden Street is the 1857 Linden Lodge Nursing Home (2), of similar height and scale, whose vernacular Greek and Colonial Revival architecture complements, and forms a significant nineteenth-century group with, the Main Building (1). Detached twentieth century Colonial Revival style buildings, in a richly landscaped setting of large trees, gardens, and broad lawns, round out the core of the complex, giving the impression of an old New England college campus.

The 1885 Springhouse (14) is-located in the Retreat Park. Additional Retreat structures, which extend to the northwest of the core, mostly along Route 30, include the Linden Street Houses (16-20) (a row of c.1930 staff residences), the Retreat farm (26-39) (a complex of mid-to late nineteenth and early twentieth century farm buildings), the Pikeville Houses (45, 46) (mid-nineteenth century cottages), and the c.1867 Men's Summer Residence (49).

Individual buildings within the complex are described as follows (numbers refer to enclosed sketch map): (1) Main Building (1838-1963)
This red brick, slate-roofed building, the first to be constructed in the complex, is located on the east side of Linden Street. Its principal axis runs east-west, with the main entrance facing south. The building consists of a center gable-front block (l-A) connected to a series of set-back rectangular wings and returns, creating a generally symmetrical facade, partially obscured by a modern one-story appendage (l-C) just to the west of the center block. The rear section of this continuous building doubles back from east to west, forming an enclosed courtyard. With the exceptions of the single 1963 appendage (l-C) and the change in proportion of the center building (l-A), largely due to an 1883 roof raising, this rambling nineteenth century building, constructed over a fifty-year period, displays a remarkably uniform and cohesive appearance, the result of design consistency and unifying Federal and Neoclassical style features. It has escaped the late 19th century Victorianizing of some of its sister institutions.

For purposes of analysis this building can be divided into component blocks, identified by letter on the enclosed map. Except as indicated, all blocks display the following common features: red brick walls (in 1950, cream-colored paint was removed and the natural red brick waterproofed with china oil), slate gable roofs, projecting cornices decorated with brick dentils and fascias, granite foundations, partially shuttered symmetrical double-hung sash windows (some with matching iron security sashes), stone lintels and sills, and a continuous stone water table between the partially raised basement and first story.

(1-A) Center Building (1838, 1848, 1863, 1883)
The gable-front facade of this 3-1/2-story rectangular block is five bays wide. Its walls are laid in a pattern of nine stretcher courses alternating with one header-stretcher course. A three-story Italianate-style central projecting pavilion (c.1863) rises above a round-arched entrance porch that has sandstone imposts trimming the openings and a sandstone denticulated cornice. Seven stone steps, guarded by granite posts and an iron railing, lead up to the porch and a paneled glass door surrounded by tracery decorated stained-glass transom and sidelights. The upper stories of the pavilion, divided and capped by projecting cornices with brick dentils, each contain a round-headed window with radiating muntins flanked by narrow 2/2 round-headed windows of the same height. Single matching windows of intermediate width appear on the sides of the pavilion.

The main facade's four outer bays contain 6/6 windows set back in two Federal-style arched recessed panels, one on each side of the pavilion. Rising above the third story, framed by a raking, denticulated returning roof cornice, is a large multi-light stained glass semi-circular window with a bank of four double-hung sash windows set within it. The top sash of each of these windows consists of a large pane surrounded by a band of small panes. This oversized recessed Queen Anne style window was added to light a fourth-floor chapel when the roof was raised in 1883.

The east and west eaves sides of this building each contain six bays of 6/6 windows, blind on the second and third stories of the second bay from the front.

On the east side, a single-story projecting bay with blind round-headed arches, 6/6 paired windows, a denticulated cornice and an attached pyramidal roof, extends out from the second and third bays Single, large 1883 dormers, each topped at the ridge by a single chimney, break the east and west roof lines, forming transepts for the chapel. The dormers have projecting pediments with slate-sheathed tympanums, supported by brackets and overhanging two horizontal pairs of windows separated by a Queen-Anne-style carved panel with rosette and petal motif. A square ventilating cupola, topped by a flared pyramidal roof and finial, sits astride the roof ridge. Its louvered sides are enriched by sunrise-motif perforations. The rear of this block, facing the court yard, is seven bays wide with a 1963 brick elevator shaft partially covering a semi-circular chapel window, matching the front facade window.

This structure was erected in 1838 by Captain Merchant Toby, master builder of Worcester, Massachusetts, based on a general plan submitted by Superintendent Rockwell, with drawings prepared by Captain Toby. It was originally two and a half stories with a pedimented roof and housed the superintendent and family, matron, and female patients. In 1848 it was extended forward 33 feet and the roof was raised. The first three stories were rebuilt following its destruction by fire in 1862. The oversized semi-circular window, the dormers and steeply pitched roof are the result of the second (1883) roof raising by George D. Rand of Boston. This building now serves an administrative function. Interior features, including dark-stained balustrades with massive Italianate octagonal newel posts, pressed metal ceilings and Victorian mantels and trim, remain intact, as does the original superintendent's office and living quarters, now occupied by the present superintendent and his family.

(1-B) West Wing (1838, 1844, 1861, 1863)
This rectangular block, the earliest women's ward, is attached to the west side of block (1-A) and runs perpendicular to it. Its eaves-front (south) facade, lengthened in 1844, is nine bays long by three stories high (all wings and returns were raised from two stories to three stories in 1861, to designs of Mr. Silloway, a Boston architect). The center projecting bay contains three 10/10 windows across, unified by continuous lintels and sills, and is one window deep, enlarging and lighting the patients' parlors. It is flanked by two modern (1963) chimneys. The remaining bays, four on each side, consist of single 12/12 sash windows. An attached modern building, (1-C), blocks most of the first story.

Brick is laid in an unusual pattern of nine courses stretchers followed by a single course of three stretchers alternating with two headers. Above the second story, brick is laid in common bond, recording the 1861 roof raising. The west gable end is three bays wide with a lunette above. The center bay consists of tripled 10/10 windows, providing light and ventilation for the wide interior corridors. The flanking single bays are 12/12 sash. There is an offset first floor entrance on the left of the exposed gable end. The roof is punctuated by three chimneys and surmounted by an 1885 cupola that matches the one on (1-A). The interior of this building, destroyed by fire in 1862 and rebuilt in 1863, is now used for Personnel and Planning.

(1-C) (1963) (non-contributing)
This modern one-story flat-roofed ell-shaped block is attached to the south facade of block (1-B). Its south facade has three bays of tripled 20/20 sash with a concrete fascia at roof line. The irregularly fenestrated west facade has an offset entrance.

(1-D) (1844, 1853)
This rectangular three-story block extends north and perpendicular to block (1-B). Its eight-bay principal (east) eaves-front facade, facing the court yard, is irregularly fenestrated With 12/12 sash. Two entrances, through a round-arched porch at basement level and a pedimented portico at the first floor, are offset. Brick is laid in common bond. The five-bay 1853 north gable end, with lunette in the gable peak, has a side extension. The center bay 12/12 sash is flanked by multi-paned side lights. Five chimneys punctuate the roof.

(1-E) (1853, 1929)
This second wing west is a three-story, eaves-front, nine-bay rectangular block running west from (1-D). The front center projecting bay is three windows wide by one window deep. The remaining bays contain single 12/12 sash with the exception of the easternmost bay, which has coupled windows. The brick pattern is common bond on the facade, whereas the projecting bay pattern is mixed common bond. The rear (north) side has an octagonal three-story screened brick veranda built in 1929. Three chimneys and a cupola like that on (1-A) break the roof line.

(l-F) (1873)
The western end of the Main Building is defined by this three-story rectangular block. Its gable-front (south) facade, three bays wide, is capped by a returning cornice with an attic lunette. The center projecting bay has tripled 12/12 sash windows unified by continuous lintels and sills. It is one window deep, capped by a flat projecting denticulation and flanked by single window bays. A shed entrance portico on the west bay steps down to Linden Street. The brick pattern duplicates adjacent block (1-E). The nine-bay west facade faces Linden Street, from which it is separated by a waist-high recessed panel brick wall with stone coping. The rear (north) gable end has a single bay of tripled windows under a lunette. The roof is punctuated by five chimneys, with a cupola like that on (1-A) on the ridge. Both (1-E) and (1-F), originally male wards, are now under renovation for office space.

(1-G) East Wing (1841)
This three-story, nine-bay, rectangular eaves-front block, with cupola, three chimneys, and 12/12 sash, is a virtual duplicate of the partially obscured West Wing, (1-B). The east gable end contains two bays, one tripled and one single sash. Brick is laid in common bond. The first and second stories and partially raised basement housed the oldest original patient wards, including individual bedrooms with transomed doors opening to wide corridors, pressed metal ceilings (the patterns of which, interestingly, vary throughout the entire Main Building, dining rooms, parlors, and therapy rooms. This plan, making each ward a self-sufficient unit, implemented the Retreat's concept that proper classification of patients was essential to recovery. It now houses an alcohol program.

(1-H) (1845, 1848)
This three-story rectangular block has its west eaves-front facing the courtyard. It was extended in 1848 to its present seven bays. Fenestration and entrances are irregular, reflecting block (1-D), which it faces. Brick is laid in common bond. Behavioral Medicine now occupies this space.

(1-I) (1845, 1851, 1929)
This second wing east is a three-story rectangular block with eaves front facing south, extended to its present nine bays in 1851. It consists of a center projecting bay three windows wide by one window deep, flanked by four single bays on each side. Sash is 12/12, partially replaced with 6/6 sash. This wing closely resembles (1-E), with the same brick pattern, roof cupola, and rear screened 1929 veranda. Originally a female patient ward, it now houses the Meadows School. A staircase leading to a first floor entrance through the center projecting bay of the south facade is under construction (1983).

(1-J) (1873)
The eastern end of the Main Building is defined by this rectangular block. The fall-off of the land here results in a four-story structure because the raised basement is fully exposed above grade. The gable-front (south) facade, three bays wide, with a center projecting bay matches block (1-F) except for a modern glass entrance at ground level, creating a symmetrical facade for the entire Main Building. The west side is six bays long with 12/12 windows partially replaced by 6/6. The nine-bay east side is connected to the adjoining Osgood Building (6) by an enclosed basement passageway. Brick is laid in mixed common bond. The roof is punctuated by several chimneys, with a cupola at the ridge.

(1-K) (1852, 1855)
The eaves-front (south) facade of this eight-bay, two-story rectangular block, with plain brick cornice, faces the court yard. Brick is laid in common bond. The four-bay western portion of this facade, built in 1852, is separated by a raking roof parapet from the later (1855) portion, built to house a female infirmary. There is a pedimented portico first floor central entrance to the 1855 portion, with an adjacent round-arched basement porch entrance, above which are stained-glass windows in brick surrounds. The first-floor round window, with six-point star motif tracery, is below a second-floor window of four-point concave configuration, with inset tracery that repeats the four-point design inside a square. These windows light a a massive Italianate interior staircase. The roof line is broken by a slate faced two-window shed dormer and three chimneys. The two-bay west gable-end of this building has a tile-coped raking roof parapet above. Outpatient services are now provided in this building.

(1-L) (1869)
This two-story rectangular block, seven bays long, with brick projecting cornice, originally a laundry, now houses plant operations. Its seven bay eaves-front (south) facade, facing the courtyard, has 12/12 windows, with the exception of two sets of coupled 2/2 sash at the western end of the first story. A pedimented portico first-story entrance and a round-arched basement porch entrance are offset. Brick pattern is mixed common bond. The three-bay west gable-end is topped by a projecting returning brick

(1-M) (1854, 1859, 1873, 1878)
The western end of the rear section of the Main Building is defined by a long, two-and-a-half-story rectangular block whose main (south) facade consists of a center projecting gabled pavilion, three bays wide, flanked by generally symmetrical gabled wings with ridge lines perpendicular to the center pavilion. Brick pattern is mixed common bond. There is no stone water table. Sash is 12/12. The eight-bay eaves-front east wing has two pedimented portico entrances. Erected in 1873 as a boiler house, it later served as an engineer shop.

The center pavilion, originally a stable (1859) and later a bakery, has three bays of double windows and a center pedimented portico entrance A single round-headed attic window is under the raked, returning, denticulated cornice.

The eight-bay irregularly fenestrated west wing (1854) is entered through a turned-column portico. A large chimney and ridge-mounted cupola break the roof line. The gable-end west side of the west wing faces Linden Street. A small two-story rear appendage has a large blind arch at ground level, facing west.

This entire block (1-M) burned in 1877 and was rebuilt in 1878, with the west wing converted to a gymnasium.

(2) Linden Lodge (1857, 1938)
This 3-1/2-story vernacular Greek Revival style red brick building, now a nursing home, is located on the west side of, and facing, Linden Street on the site of the demolished first asylum building. Its main (east) facade consists of a center gable-front rectangular block, connected by short hyphens to symmetrical wings. The north wing is the original "Marsh Building", built in 1857. The center block, of Colonial Revival style, and south wing, which replicates the north wing, were added in 1938 to the designs of Harry K. White of New York. At this time, cream-colored paint, which had been on the walls of the north wing since 1893, was removed.

The three-bay-wide center block projects slightly from the plane of the wings. The main entrance, up three steps protected by iron railings, through a Roman-Doric pedimented portico, is a glass-paneled door surrounded by transom and side lights. The front facade has 12/12 sash shuttered windows with stone sills and lintels. Brick is laid in mixed common bond. The second story center window is recessed in an elliptical arched opening with stone keystone and imposts. Above is a pedimented slate roof, with generous modillioned projecting cornice enclosing a tympanum with center window flanked by quarter-round lunettes. A slate-faced continuous shed dormer is on each side of the roof slope. The narrow recessed connecting hyphens each contain one bay of paired matching windows with continuous lintels and sills, above which is a straight-sided clapboard attic with single window.

The eaves-front rectangular wings, each eleven bays long, match the fenestration, trim, and roof material of the center building, except for the north wing cornice, which is decorated in a projecting zigzag brick design. Smaller-scale porticos provide entrances to the wings. Continuous shed dormers with 8/12 windows, nine equispaced on the south wing and four coupled on the north wing, break the roof slope. One-bay paired window wing extensions of diminished scale, the end facades of which contain five grouped windows with lunette pediment above, define the north and south extremities of the building. The north wing is topped by two equispaced interior brick chimneys. The rear of the center block terminates in a windowed octagonal projecting pavilion.

(3) Carpenter Shop and Ice House (1878)
This ell-shaped building, with slate gable-roofs, is two stories at its south side, increased to three stories on the north side where the land slopes down towards the Retreat Meadows. Its gable-end (north) facade has three bays of single windows and offset plain entrance. A setback ell, four bays long, extends to the east. Projecting denticulated brick cornices, 12/12 fenestration with stone lintels and sills, and brick pattern match the adjacent Main Building (1), to which it is attached by means of an overhead enclosed passageway. On the south facade, which is nine bays across with four staggered entrances, a sloping roof cuts off the main gable, creating a single hip at the southwest corner. Its west facade, facing Linden Street, has five bays, each two windows wide.

(3-A) Tool Shed (c.1972) (non-contributing)
A small wood-frame, novelty-sided, gable-front tool shed stands just to the north of (3).

(4) Cain Building (1949) (non-contributing)
This modern single-story brick rectangular boiler house, with flat roof and large multi-paned windows, provides steam heat. There is a large tiled round chimney stack adjacent to its west side. It is located on the site of the first barn built in 1850. Due to its age, it is included in the complex as a non-contributing structure.

(5) Wheeler Vocational Rehabilitation Center (1958) (non-contributing)
Originally a laundry, this is a large modern single-story brick-faced rectangular building, with continuous wraparound multi-pane windows. It was adapted to its present use in 1981. Due to its age, it is included in the complex as a non-contributing structure.

(6) Osgood Building (1933)
This 3-1/2-story Neo-Colonial style building, originally an infirmary, is just to the east of the Main Building (1), to which it is connected by an enclosed basement passageway. It is sheathed in yellow pressed brick laid in common bond. The main (south) eaves-front facade contains seven bays: a central portion of five symmetrical bays of single 20/20 sash with gauged brick flat arches and raised brick keystones, flanked by two large hip roofed octagonal projecting pavilions with 16/16 sash in recessed panels, tripled on the front of the pavilions and coupled on the pavilion returns. Cast-stone sills are continuous on the first floor of the pavilions, forming string courses. Another string course, enriched by brick dentils, is continuous on the entire third story. Windows above the first story are guarded with matching iron security sash. A broad cast-stone water table encircles the building above the partially raised basement.

The recessed central entrance is up nine granite steps protected by iron railings. Double paneled doors, with transom light above, are framed by plain cast-stone pilasters supporting a full entablature, crowned by a broken-apex elliptical pediment with pineapple finial. The entrance bay is emphasized by a single Federal style recessed round-arched panel, with set-in window, directly above the entrance pediment. A gently pitched slate gable roof with modillioned cornice above a brick fascia is broken by five slate-sheathed hip-roofed dormers with 12/12 sash.

The six-bay east facade's pedimented gable is bisected by a single fenestrated chimney-like projecting bay with ground floor entrance porch. A blind oculus separates the top window from a group of three round-headed louvered openings of Italian Villa style at roof peak level. The west facade generally matches the east facade. The rear (north) facade has a central three-story five-bay porch, overlooking the Retreat Meadows lake.

Designed by Harry H. White of New York City, it now comprises, together with the adjoining Tyler Building (7), the Rockwell Psychiatric Center.

(7) Tyler Building (1928, 1958, 1980)
Standing adjacent and at right angles to Osgood Building (6) is this 3-1/2-story Neo-Colonial building of irregular plan, sheathed in running bond yellow brick, with a slate-sheathed hip roof. Designed by Kendall and Taylor of Boston, its main (west) symmetrical facade is composed of a three-story pedimented central triple-window projecting bay flanked on each side by three bays of 20/20 shuttered windows with flat-brick arches and cast-stone sills, which in turn are flanked by two hip-roofed two-bay projecting pavilions. Decoration consists of a wide cast-stone water table above the half-basement, a string course through the sills of the third story windows, and brick quoins.

The main entrance is up eight granite steps, protected by iron railings, through a Roman-Doric portico with denticulated pediment. The paneled door is surrounded by a Federal-style elliptical fan light and sidelights with tracery. Directly above the portico is a modified Palladian window whose blind round-headed upper portion is infilled with a carved fan motif set in a brick arch with raised brick keystone. The slate roof, with modillioned cornice above brick fascia, is broken by six pedimented slate sheathed dormers with 15/15 sash. The south and north facades of the original 1928 rectangular block are four irregular bays deep, with ground floor entrances under bracket-supported hipped copper-sheathed hoods. Above are two offset matching dormers. The southerly portion of the east (rear) facade of the original building gains an extra story due to the land drop off. A single projecting bay with ground level entrance defines the south west corner. Adjacent is a three-story three-bay porch. A massive five story flat-roofed ell ten bays long, built in 1958, (non-contributing) protrudes from the rear of the 1928 block. An additional large modern (1980) single-story flat-roofed wing (non-contributing) is attached to the north side of the rear ell.

(8) Ripley House 1931)
Originally built as a nurses residence, this U-shaped, 3-1/2-story slate hip-roof Neo-Colonial building was designed by Kendall and Taylor of Boston. The main (north) five-bay symmetrical facade consists of a minimally proportioned, central bay capped by an open-bed modillioned pediment and flanked on either side by two bays, each containing three 8/8 windows. Yellow brick is laid in mixed common bond.

The central entrance, up eleven granite steps guarded by iron railings, is through a balconied Roman-Doric portico and nine-light paneled door surrounded by a Federally detailed blind elliptical fan and sidelights with tracery. Above the portico is a band of three small windows, and above that a round-arched, multi-paned tripart window set in a recessed panel. An oculus embellished with four circumferential key voussoirs tops the composition.

Decoration is provided by a cast stone water table above the half basement, a string course through third story window sills, and a modillioned cornice above a brick fascia. First and second story windows, with flat brick arches and cast-stone sills, are set into Federal-style vertical recessed panels, terminating in blind keystoned round arches above the second story windows. Irregularly spaced slate-sheathed hipped dormers with single and double 6/6 sash punctuate the roof.

East, west, and rear facades continue the three-window bay design. The rear facade has two symmetrical ells, with courtyard between, which terminate in three-story, three-bay, flat-roofed, plainly balustraded porches, supported on the first floor by brick elliptical arches with square pillars above.

(9) Garage (1932)
Located at the southern boundary of the Retreat property is this rectangular, eleven-stall, clapboard-sheathed, flat-roofed garage. The year of its construction, "1932," appears within a flat diamond on its open-bed pediment false-front facade. The 1/3-glazed doors consist of three panels, two of which are hinged and fold back, and the third is an individual swinging door. Similar doors are found on the garage (21) behind the Linden Street Houses.

(10) Lawton Hall (1914)
The first major Retreat construction in the twentieth century, this boldly massed, 3-1/2-story, U-shaped, gable-roofed Colonial Revival/Queen Anne building houses recreational therapeutic facilities. Designed by Kendall and Taylor of Boston, it faces Linden Street across a wide lawn. Its seven-bay main (west) facade includes a five-bay central portion with coupled 1/1 windows behind a two-story porch supported by square molded pillars with scroll-enriched capitals. An urned balustrade protects the open first-story porch, while a latticed railing spans the second level, enclosed by multi-light windows. An entablature with denticulated cornice and concentric disc-enriched frieze delineates the gently sloping porch roof, which virtually obscures the third-story windows. The central entrance is up six stone steps guarded by stone piers and iron railings, through a glass door with single light transom and sidelights.

Large three-story octagonal projecting pavilions flank the porch. The first story, above a partially raised basement, is random-coursed ashlar stone with large picture windows at the front of the pavilions, set off by stone relieving arches and concrete lintels. Narrower l/l windows light the beveled pavilion sides. The second and third stories of the pavilions, horizontal board sheathed above a concrete belt course, have paired and single windows on the front and bevel sides; second-story windows are 6/6, third story 9/6. Massive Queen Anne style gable-end pediments, with heavy finial-capped molded barge boards and slightly pedimented bottom chords supported by massive brackets, overhang the pavilions, the chords forming molded, dentilled, modillioned entablatures. Coupled 4/4 sash are set in the weather-boarded tympanums.

The second and third stories of the main facade are sheathed in stretcher-bond yellow brick. The bracketed, overhanging, open-eaved-front slate roof is punctuated by five flared hip-roofed 6/6 slate-sheathed dormers and two ridge-top stone chimneys. A generous Neoclassical three stage central tower crowns the roof ridge. The slate-clad square first stage, with segmentally arched and keystoned horizontal, louvered openings, is capped by a molded cornice. The second, clapboarded square stage, with turned balustrade between paneled piers, houses a clock built by the E. Howard Clock Company of Boston, with four sectional glass dials, each five feet in diameter, above which is a molded, modillioned cornice with open-bed pediment. The top stage rectangular cupola, with copper-sheathed dome and finial, has round arched louvered openings with keystones and imposts, framed by pedimented paneled pilasters, angled to create beveled corners, astride paneled piers which echo those of the second stage.

The irregularly bayed north facade is articulated in three stepped wall planes, the rearmost one of which projects the greatest and is a two-bay, paired window, jerkinhead-roofed projecting pavilion. The south facade duplicates the north facade, with matching first floor shed-roofed, bracketed overdoor entrance At the rear (east) facade a courtyard is created by the returning jerkinhead pavilions whose east (eaves) sides are broken by massive exterior stone chimneys.

(11) Greenhouse (1981) (non-contributing)
This is a rectangular plastic-covered "Quonset Hut˛ behind the tennis courts.

(12) Entrance Arch (1922)
Located on the east side of Linden Street, directly opposite Linden Lodge (2), this black wrought-iron elliptical arch with heart-motif filigree marks the main vehicular entrance to the Retreat. Mounted on tan brick piers with lanterns, it is inscribed BRATTLEBORO RETREAT in gold-leaf letters. It was erected during Superintendent Horace G. Ripley's landscape improvement program.

(13) Retreat Tower (1887-1892)
Located on the west side of Linden Street at an elevation of 250 feet, this 65-foot high cylindrical gothic tower with crenellated, granite, projecting parapet, overlooks the Retreat and the town of Brattleboro. Constructed by patients and staff, its brick core is faced with uncoursed ashlar and rubble stone. The blocked entrance, with granite relieving arch and granite Gibbs surround, is surmounted by a rectangular stone, carved "1887" in relief. Three windows with quoined surrounds light the interior slate-covered staircase.

(14) Springhouse (1885)
This one-story rectangular block is to the west of and overlooks Linden Lodge (2). Most of the block is enclosed under a steep hip roof which sweeps down nearly to ground level. Its windowless low side walls are sheathed in stretcher bond red brick except for the rear (south) and part of the west facades, which are concrete with concrete molded cornices. The single bay main (north) facade has an entrance, reached by an iron ladder, through a raised brick round-arched opening, with brick imposts and stone sill, in the face of a brick flush-wall hipped dormer, with pressed metal roof and cheeks. The patterned, pressed metal, steeply hipped roof rises above a denticulated brick cornice matching that of the Main Building (1). The east and west two-bay eaves facades each have two matching dormers. The dormer in the rear of the west facade, however, is completely sheathed in pressed metal. All dormer openings are blocked and sealed with expanded metal grates. Square louvered cupolas, with flared pyramidal pressed metal roofs and finials, cap the roof at either end of the ridge. Now hidden by foliage, it was originally a cistern reservoir, which was enlarged and covered in 1885, acquiring its present appearance.

(15) Old Burying Ground (1846)
This cemetery, which originally included a vault, provided graves for patients whose remains were unclaimed. In 1872, the vault was removed and a new one (22) was built.

There were no burials in this cemetery after 1900, when Fairview Cemetery in Brattleboro was opened. At that time, some of the bodies were transferred, but several older graves remain.

(16-20) Linden Street Houses
This is a row of five houses located on the western side of Linden Street just north of Linden Lodge (2). Built as staff residences, they exhibit a variety of early twentieth century suburban residential colonial details. The houses are located on the site of the original Pikeville Houses (45, 46) that were purchased in 1868 and moved to their present site in 1893.

(16) 84 Linden Street (1932)
This eaves-front, one-story, irregular plain stucco bungalow has a hipped diamond-pattern composition roof with molded cornice. The irregularly bayed, shuttered, 3/1 windows flank an offset, recessed entrance with sidelights, protected by a bracketed jerkinhead canopy which is echoed by clipped roof pediments on the north and south facades. A battered, partially exposed brick chimney is to the left of the entrance.

(17) 86 Linden Street (1931)
This vernacular, 3x3 bay, l-1/2-story wood-frame cottage, clapboard sheathed with cornerboards, has twentieth century paired windows and horizontal proportions, but echoes the Greek Revival style in its simple detail On the main gable-front facade a central-entrance pedimented portico is flanked by paired 6/l sash, with a smaller attic window under the molded returning roof cornice. A gabled ell extends to the south.

(18) 88 Linden Street (1931)
This 2-1/2-story rectangular, gable-front, irregularly bayed and fenestrated wood-frame house, with clapboard sheathing, has a somewhat Tudor form with colonial details. The main entrance is through a gabled, offset, enclosed porch. The steeply pitched gable roof is flanked by shed like dormers whose faces blend with the sides of the house. A shed-roofed ell extends to the south.

(19) 90 Linden Street (1929)
This three-bay, eaves-front, 2-1/2-story, clapboard-sheathed Dutch Colonial wood-frame house has a paneled entrance door with sidelights protected by a central vaulted pedimented portico. First story outer bays have tripart windows, as does the second story central bay. The gable roof with molded cornice is modified by a gable overhang and applied lower roof slope to create a gambrel look on the gables and pent roofs on the front and rear facades. A single-story flat-roofed south wing, fenestrated with tripart windows, is decorated with multiple pilasters and panels.

(20) 92 Linden Street (1930)
This 2-1/2-story eaves-front, irregularly bayed and fenestrated wood-frame clapboard-sheathed Tudoresque suburban residential house has an offset entrance protected by a bracketed round-arched hood. Front and side facades have applied steeply pitched roof gables with molded returning cornices. A l-1/2-story steeply pitched gable-roofed south wing continues the Tudoresque proportions.

(21) Garage (1928)
This flat-roofed, rectangular, clapboarded garage, built on the site of a former coach barn (burned 1928), contains 26 stalls with l/3-glazed doors that consist of three panels, two of which are hinged to fold back and the third is an individual swinging door. (Similar doors are found on Building (9). The false-front facade, with molded cornice, steps up to a central gable, below which "1928" appears in relief . Second story doors open to lofts above the eight center stalls.

(21-A) Garage (1929)
A three-stall clapboarded gable-front garage is adjacent to the south end of the main garage.

(22) Vault (1872)
This earth-roofed vault is located at the bottom of the east embankment of Linden Street, facing the Retreat Meadows lake. Mortared rubblestone side walls extend from the embankment. A steel door, with stone lintel, is flush with the stretcher-bond brick front, which is coped with granite. This vault was built to replace an earlier one at the Old Burying Ground (15). It has been unused for many years.

(23) Cedar Street House (1941) (non-contributing)
This eaves-front, 1-1/2-story, wood-frame, three-bay Cape Cod style staff residence cottage, with composition siding and roof, is located on the south side of and facing Cedar Street. A central paneled entrance door with sidelights and shallow open-bed pediment is behind a gabled enclosed porch under a molded returning cornice. Symmetrical fenestration is 6/6 and 12/12. A four-window hipped dormer breaks the front (north) roof line, while a shed dormer faces the rear. Single-story flat-roofed single-bay wings extend to the east and west Due to its age, the building does not contribute to the historic character of the complex.

(23-A) Garage (c.1941) (non-contributing)
A two-bay gable front stuccoed garage stands to the west of (23). It does not contribute to the historic character of the complex.

(24) 104 Linden Street (c.1870) (non-contributing)
This 1-1/2-story, eaves-front, irregularly bayed and fenestrated frame house is on the west side of and facing Linden Street, about one quarter mile north of the main buildings of the Retreat. Its clapboard-sheathed walls, with cornerboards, are protected by an overhanging composition gable-roof with plain cornice. The paneled front door is offset under a wide open-bed pedimented canopy which covers a porch deck. Two kneewall windows flank the canopy. A short two-bay single-story gable-front ell extends forward at the northern end of the front of the house, and a single story shed-roofed ell extends to the rear. This house, originally thought to have been a blacksmith shop, was purchased in 1880 and remodeled in 1952 and 1983, and now serves as a transitional residential setting for adolescents. Due to alteration, it is included in the complex as a non-contributing structure.

(25) Farm Manager's House (1950) (non-contributing)
Located on the west side of Linden Street, just south of and over looking the farm house (26), this four-bay, eaves-front, 1-1/2-story frame Cape Cod style cottage is clapboard covered. Twin central entrances under a single shed canopy are flanked by 8/8 sash. Four hipped dormers break the slate gable-roof. Shed-roofed porches extend to the east and west. Due to its age, it is included in the complex as a non-contributing structure.

(25-A) Garage (1950) (non-contributing)
A two-bay gable-front garage stands to the east and rear of (25). Due to its age, it is included in the complex as a non-contributing structure.

(26) Farmhouse (1870)
This gable-front, two-story, three-bay vernacular Italianate style farmhouse is located on the west side of Linden Street at the entrance to the Retreat farm complex. Clapboard-sheathed with cornerboards, it is fenestrated with 2/2 sash in molded surrounds. The main (east) facade, overlooking the Retreat Meadows, is spanned by a single-story veranda with turned balustrades, chamfered posts, and molded cornice above. A round arched attic window is framed by the projecting molded returning cornice of the composition gable-roof. The first two bays of the four-bay north facade are blind. A bay window projects from the third and fourth bays of the first story. The four-bay south facade has a first-story bay window covering the first and second bays. A four-bay single-story gable-roofed wing extends to the rear. A matching veranda (with new concrete deck) wraps around its south and west facades. This house was built in 1870 on or near the site of an existing structure purchased in 1858, apparently demolished to make way for the new house.

(27) Site of the Arms Tavern (1762)
Approximately 100 feet east of the Farmhouse (26) is an inscribed stone placed by the D.A.R. in 1929 to mark the conjectural site of the Arms Tavern, formerly the site of the 1757 Fairbank Moor home (see Statement of Significance). Major John Arms established the first tavern and post office here. The present Farmhouse (26) was built in 1870 near or on the site of an old house, apparently razed when the present house was built. Described as a two-story salt box with a two-story ell attached to the south, the second story projected out to create a veranda with three arches. This may have been the Arms Tavern.

(28) North Barn (1890, 1929)
This large 1-1/2-story rectangular wood-frame barn defines the eastern end of the farm complex. An asymmetrical overhanging slate gable-roof, with a longer roof pitch sweeping closer to the ground on the south side, protects the clapboard-sheathed walls with cornerboards. The main (east) gable-front facade is entered through an eight-panel sliding barn door under an eighty light transom. The unadorned gable peak is penetrated by two symmetrical sash under an oculus with radiating muntins, which light the loft. Two rectangular wood-frame cupolas, with paired round-arched louvered openings under keystoned and imposted hoods on all sides, are capped by molded cornices and pyramidal roofs with finials. The easternmost cupola's finial is topped by an arrow-motif weather vane. The eleven-bay north eaves facade, fenestrated with multi-light fixed barn sash, has one small gabled dormer. The 22-bay barn-sashed south facade is partially obscured by an attached concrete pen. A covered passageway connects the rear to an adjoining shed (29).

The first part of this cow barn was built in 1890. After being damaged by fire in 1906, it was renovated in 1929, when the cupolas were added.

(29) Former Horse Barn (c.1865, 1901)
Located to the east and at right angles to the North Barn (28), this large, rectangular, 2-l/2-story, irregularly bayed, gable-roof block, on a concrete foundation, was originally a horse barn. The main (east) eaves front facade, is clapboard-sheathed with cornerboards. A three-bay 2-1/2-story pavilion, one bay deep, projects from the left half of the facade. Its ground level entrance is through central paneled double barn doors, flanked by single 12/12 sash. Above the second story, which contains a central paneled loft door flanked by 12/12 windows, is the pavilion pediment, framed by a molded projecting cornice. A single 12/12 sash, with wood string courses through head and sill, penetrates the woodshingle-sheathed tympanum. Attached to the north side of the pavilion is a concrete block shed with paired sash under a molded raking cornice. At the north end of the main facade a single-story clapboarded passageway leads to the North Barn (28).

Fire spread between the two buildings is discouraged by a brick raking roof parapet over the passageway and a rectangular area of slate sheathing under a section of metal-sheathed cornice on the facade above the passageway. The north and south gable-end facades are slate-sheathed. The nine-bay rear (west) clapboard-sheathed facade is composed of 12/12 sash, alternating on the second story with diagonally wood-sheathed loft doors. Breaking the ridge of the slate roof, directly above the pavilion roof, is a rectangular ventilating cupola, matching those on North Barn (28) but less elaborate, lacking keystone and impost decoration. A wood silo stands adjacent to the north gable wall.

It is thought that this structure was originally built circa 1855 as a horse barn, with the slate wall sheathing added 1901. It is currently used as a storage and equipment shed.

(30) 0x Barn (c.1865, 1901)
This rectangular, 2-1/2.-story, irregularly bayed gable-roof barn, on a concrete foundation, is on the same facade line and just south of Shed (29), which it closely resembles. Whereas the Shed (29) is slate-sheathed only on walls facing adjacent buildings, the Ox Barn (30) is completely slate sheathed (with the exception of a small brick area at the south end of the main facade). All exterior wood doors and trim are sheet metal sheathed. A four-bay pavilion, virtually matching that of the Shed (29), projects from the right half of the main (east) eaves-front facade, creating a look of symmetry. The south gable-end facade is blank, whereas a single 12/12 window penetrates the north facade. The rear facade is irregularly fenestrated. A single brick interior chimney punctuates the roof. Further evidence of fire protection design is the absence of a conventional wood cupola, for which two rear roof slope flush ventilators have been substituted. This c. 1865 building was slate-sheathed in 1901, when eight sleeping rooms for help were added. It contains an interesting early cast iron watering trough and a natural drainage system. The only other documented completely slate-sheathed existing buildings in Vermont are at the Estey Organ Company Factory in Brattleboro, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, April 17, 1980, although such sheathing was reportedly also used in Guilford, Vermont.

(31) Hay Barn (c.1865?)
Located in the same facade line and just south of the 0x Barn (30) separated by a tile silo, is this 1-1/2-story, rectangular, irregularly bayed, clapboard-sheathed barn, on a concrete foundation. A central rectangular wood cupola, matching that of the former horse barn (29) but lacking a finial, tops the ridge of the slate gable roof with molded cornice.

(32) New Barn (1926, 1928)
This 1-1/2-story, rambling, gable roof stucco barn, on a concrete foundation, is irregularly shaped. The main (north) eaves-front facade is penetrated by a series of nine-light barn sash, delineated by a string course through the sills. The lintels are also connected to form a plain fascia below the returning box cornice. A central 1-1/2-story, three-bay, gable pavilion, three bays deep, with attached side porch and louvered lunette under the gable, projects from the main facade. A series of round metal ventilators, topped by glass-globe cow-motif lightning rods, cap the main and ell roofs. The six-bay east gable end is lighted by a concentric-circle oculus, with radiating muntins under the roof ridge. A small gabled ell, flanked by two 1939 tile silos, extends forward at the western end of the main block. Three gabled ells extend to the rear. The easternmost ell matches the main block. The small center ell terminates in an exterior brick chimney. The westernmost ell is a vertically wood-sided gabled shed with horizontal ventilating openings, linked to the main block by a breeze way. This impressive barn was originally built in 1926, burned in 1927, and was rebuilt in 1928.

(33) Blacksmith Shop (c.1858?)
This single-story, eaves-front, wood-frame, irregularly bayed building is clapboard-sheathed and protected by a plain corniced gable roof. The front paneled garage door is flanked by 12/12 sash. A small, concrete block, false-front wing extends to the left. A flat-roofed clapboarded wing extends to the right. The building reportedly existed when the property was purchased from Newman Allen in 1858, but this has not been confirmed. It was used as a blacksmith shop between 1897 and 1946.

(34) Refrigerator Building (1932, 1940)
Located on a slope to the rear of the former horse barn (29), this 2-1/2-story, three-bay, gable-front, clapboarded, rectangular block, on a concrete foundation, has a full basement story above grade on the east facade. Two refrigerator doors open from the second story of this facade, while 12/12 windows light the first story and the attic level below the molded roof cornice. A stepped concrete retaining wall extends perpendicular to the north and south facades, protecting basement access openings. Three gabled ventilating cupolas are parallel to and astride the roof ridge. This building was converted for storage of apples circa 1940.

(34-A) Bunker Silo (1982)(non-contributing)
A rectangular concrete bunker silo is just to the south of (34)

(35) Woodcrib (1942) (non-contributing)
This single-story, shallow-pitch gable front, rectangular wood-frame building has a screened open-wall design with central drive-in bay. Due to its age, this building is non-contributing.

(36) Farm Wagon Shed (1929)
The northern edge of the farm complex is defined by this single-story, wood-frame, rectangular block. Woodshingle-sheathed, it has twelve open bays and five closed bays with multi-light paneled doors under a molded corniced shed roof.

(37) Piggery (1907, 1931)
Above and to the southwest of the New Barn (32) is this 1-1/2-story rectangular wood-frame block. Rising from a concrete foundation, it is clapboard-sheathed with cornerboards under a long, sloped, slate-covered gable roof, decorated with molded cornice and plain fascia. A clapboarded, gabled monitor with molded cornice extends the length of the building. It houses four vertically divided horizontal, louvered openings, each of which is flanked by multi-light barn sash. The main (south) gable-front facade, irregularly fenestrated with multi-light windows approached through a porte cochere, apparently created by removing the eave walls of a single story gable;-front enclosed porch. This porch, resting on a brick foundation, has an unused central entrance through paneled multi-light double doors, with smaller loft doors above, under a molded, raked returning cornice. A similar, usable entrance under the porch penetrates the main facade. The west eaves-front facade consists of a long, recessed, twenty bay concrete loading platform, behind which a continuous row of twenty-light sash lights the building interior. The similar west facade is broken by a tall exterior brick chimney.

When built in 1907, this was reportedly the largest piggery in Windham County. In 1931, the facilities were improved and the roof was raised. It has been used for storage since 1971.

(38) Ice House (1932)
This 1-1/2-story, rectangular, wood-frame, irregularly bayed and fenestrated, gable-roof, clapboarded building, on a concrete foundation, has an entrance under a shed canopy on its west facade. In 1947 an apartment was installed for the head pig-keeper. It now serves as an employee residence.

(39) Weaner Pig Shed (1887)
This rectangular, 1-1/2-story, wood-frame block, on a concrete foundation, is asphalt shingle sheathed under a shed roof with plain cornice. The six-bay front (north) facade contains two tiers of rectangular louvered openings, some of which are boarded over. It is not currently in use.

(40) Hescock House (c.1825?)
This vernacular, eaves-front, l-1/2-story, wood-frame cottage is clapboard covered, with cornerboards, and protected by an asphalt-shingle roof. The first story front entrance, up four wood steps, is through a central paneled door sheltered by an open-bed pedimented portico, with attenuated turned columns and turned side balustrade. Three asymmetrical 6/6 sash light the first story. A bay window with 2/2 sash on the east gable end faces the Retreat Meadows lake. A shed extends to the rear. Attached to the west gable end is a smaller, 1-1/2-story, offset, three-bay gable-roof block, to which yet another two-story gable-roof block, on the same facade plane as the center block, is attached. The front of the westernmost block is lighted, on the second story, by a row of four six-light barn sash.

This cottage, or portion thereof, purchased in 1877 from R. N. Hescock, is reported to date from the early nineteenth century.

(41) Cold Spring (1845)
This spring is located just west of Upper Dummerston Road where it joins Route 30. A source of pure water, it was the destination of daily walks by patrons of Dr. Wesselhoeft's Hydropathic Institution, located in Brattleboro. In 1899 the Retreat built a stone hood over the spring and a rustic bridge of boulders over the ravine. It became a favorite resting place for Retreat patients on their daily walks.

(42) Site of Original Linden Lodge (c.1772, 1859, 1881, 1893)
In 1881, the Retreat purchased the old Burnside Military School (1859), on the Miles property, which was remodeled to provide a summer retreat. The main part of this building was reportedly the home of Samuel and Hannah Wells (c. 1772) In 1893, the summer retreat was converted into a residence for borderline cases and renamed Linden Lodge. A concrete sidewalk from the Cold Spring (41) to Linden Lodge was laid in 1899. Linden Lodge burned in 1920. (Building (2) in the complex is now known as Linden Lodge.) A gazebo, sheltered by a wood-shingled gable roof, is under construction (1983) on the existing stoop of the original Linden Lodge.

(43) Webster Cottage (1909, 1983) (non-contributing)
This two-story gable-front, irregularly fenestrated wood-frame cottage with offset gable overdoor entrance and open eaves, is atop a high slope. Two-story two-bay gabled ells extend from each side of the center block. Vertical wood siding extends above a high concrete foundation. The roof has exposed rafter tails. This house, which overlooks the Pikeville Houses (45, 46), was deeded to the Retreat in 1954 and remodeled in 1983. Due to alterations it is included as a non-contributing structure.

(44) Garage (c.1909?, 1950) (non-contributing)
This gable-front, two-story, wood-frame, irregularly bayed structure is shingle covered and protected by a composition roof. The first-story front is spanned by a recessed, elliptical, arched opening with tapered shingled corner posts. Recessed in the opening is an overhead garage door and right bay pass door. Sash is tripled 6/6 on the front facade. A molded returning cornice trims the eave. This garage for (43) was remodeled in 1950. Due to alterations, it is included as a non-contributing structure.

(45, 46) Pikeville Houses
This is a pair of vernacular wood-frame houses located on the west side of Route 30 one mile north of the present Linden Lodge (2). They overlook of the burned Women's Summer Retreat (the original Linden Lodge) (42) and adjacent Cold Spring (41). Probably dating from the first two thirds of the nineteenth century, they originally stood on the site of the present staff residences (16-20) just north of Linden Lodge (2). Purchased in 1868 and moved to their present site in 1893 for use as patient cottages, they are now occupied by employees.

(45) Lilac Cottage (c.1860)
This eaves-front, 1-1/2-story cottage, clapboard-sided with cornerboards, has a three-bay facade, behind a screened veranda with lattice work skirt and Queen Anne turned posts. The main entrance is flanked by 6/6 windows. A lower one-story south wing with matching front veranda and exterior chimney has similar fenestration. The gable roofs of both the main block and the wing are sheathed in slate and have molded cornices without returns. The Queen Anne porch was probably added at the time of the move (1893).

(46) Locust Cottage (c.1860)
This house, "Locust Cottage," is just to the north of and facing in the same direction as adjacent (45), which it duplicates, except that it has taller proportions, lacks the wing, and has a composition shingle roof instead of slate. Like its neighbor, it probably gained its Queen Anne porch when it was moved to the site (1893).

(47) Shed (c.1930)
Standing at the rear of (46) is this concrete-foundationed clapboard sided, seven-bay frame garage with shallow gable Composition roof. It consists of two sections joined, at an obtuse angle. It reportedly was attached to a barn which was demolished c.1930.

(48) Orchard Cottage (c.1930)
The northern edge of the Pikeville cluster is defined by this small, eaves-front, three-by-one bay gable-roof frame cottage with dimension-post porch in front. Its center entrance is flanked by 2/2 windows. The single bay gable end has a horizontal barn sash above a 2/2 window. Sheathed with novelty siding and clapboard with cornerboards, it has appendages to the north side and the rear. This cottage was reportedly built with timbers salvaged from "Clematis Cottage", one of the original Pikeville houses, which was demolished c.1930.

(49) Men's Summer Residence (c.1867, 1888, 1914)
Located on the south side of Upper Dummerston Road, at the Brattleboro Country Club golf course, this two-story, wood-frame, L-shaped block; is clapboard-sheathed with cornerboards and protected by a slate-covered hip roof with projecting molded cornice and wide plain frieze. The front (east) facade displays four bays of 2/2 sash. The main, offset, entrance is through a paneled door under a molded cornice. A six-bay, single-story screened veranda, with a latticed skirt, encircles the front facade and portions of the east and west facades, protected by a gently sloped slate roof, whose molded cornice is carried by square pillars with chamfered corners. An enclosed porch with bay window spans the remainder of the irregularly bayed north facade. The rear section of the irregularly bayed south facade is a recessed wing, spanned by a porch of diminished size. A tall exterior chimney breaks the forward section of the south facade.

In 1888, this house, which was reportedly the Capen homestead (c.1867), was converted to a men's summer residence and named Oakwood Lodge. In 1914 it was leased to the Brattleboro Country Club and has served since clubhouse.

(49-A) Garage (c.1888?, 1936)
A two-bay clapboarded hip roof garage is to the rear of (49). It has overhead garage doors. An icehouse was reportedly converted to a garage on this property in 1936. This appears to be that building.

(50) Pro Shop (1928) (non-contributing)
Situated on the south side of the Men's Summer Residence (49), this small single-story wood-frame block, clapboarded, with cornerboards, has irregular 6/l fenestration and is protected by an overhanging hip roof with bracketed cornice. Sloping land allows a brick-clad above-grade basement on the south and east sides. Part of the basement is accessed through an overhead garage door on the east side. This structure was built to serve the needs of the Country Club and does not have a history of use by the Retreat.

(51) Site of Camp Comfort (1885)
On the north side of the ice pond, on property bought from Newman Allen in 1858, a camping program for male patients was started in 1885. A shelter was built by 1887; it no longer exists.

(52) Site of Camp Ridgewood (1902)
The enjoyment and curative influence created by Camp Comfort (51) induced the Retreat to build a permanent gambrel-roof, wood-frame cottage with wraparound veranda on the highest land in the Retreat Park in 1902. It was used by various organizations until it burned in the 1940s.


The Brattleboro Retreat is significant as one of the original psychiatric hospitals in the United States and the first in Vermont, founded 1834 by the bequest of Mrs. Anna Marsh. In contrast to the harsh treatment of the mentally ill prevalent at the time, the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, as it was named. by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, was dedicated to a newly emerging concept of moral and humane treatment. The architecture and setting of the present complex, an excellent collection of well preserved buildings, including the design and details of the patientsą living areas, respond to the needs, and mirrors the precepts, of moral treatment. The Retreat's original construction (1838) predates the famous Kirkbride plan, which was to be the model for most asylums built in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The series of extant nineteenth century connected brick wings of the classically detailed Main Building (1), built over a period of fifty years, is the preserved setting for the methods advanced by the first superintendent, William H. Rockwell, and his successors. This original structure, along with additional nineteenth and twentieth century buildings, comprises the heart of a 1000-acre comprehensive treatment complex.

The Retreat architecture includes a range of styles, commencing with.the classically proportioned 1838 Main Building (1), whose plain red brick walls, stone lintels, and slate roofs, repeated at the 1857 Linden Lodge (2), typify conservative New England neoclassicism through the mid-nineteenth century. The patient-constructed 1892 Tower (13) is Gothic, whereas the yellow-brick early twentieth century buildings exhibit Queen Anne and Neo-Colonial styles. The c.1865 Ox Barn (30) at the farm is notable for the rare, inventive use of complete slate sheathing for fireproofing. The nineteenth century vernacular Pikeville Houses (45, 46) exemplify small rural wood-frame cottage style, while the Linden Street Houses (16-20) exhibit a c.1930 desire for variety in suburban residential styles . The low-slung 1885 Springhouse (14) shows a creative and possibly unique solution to the problem of enclosing an existing concrete reservoir. The Brattleboro Retreat is a private non-profit psychiatric hospital comprehensive treatment complex of national acclaim, noted for its continued role in the development of mental health treatment in the United States and for its historical role as a rural, self-contained mental health hospital community.

Established in 1834 as a bequest from Anna Marsh, widow of physician Perley Marsh of Hinsdale, New Hampshire, and first woman to establish a hospital for the mentally ill, it served as the state facility for over fifty years. The Retreat was founded on a dramatically new theory of mental health treatment introduced into this country only a few years earlier through its Quaker progenitor, the York Retreat in England. This was a humanistic concept that the mentally ill could be cured by rebuilding self-esteem in a wholesome, regulated environment of parental-like kindness, protection, cultural and social activities, and meaningful work. At this time only ten hospitals devoted exclusively to the treatment of the insane existed in the United States, three of which--McLean Asylum, Somerville, Mass. (1818), Connecticut Retreat, Hartford, Conn. (1824), and State Hospital, Worcester, Mass (1833)--were located in New England.

From the modest ten thousand dollars left by Anna Marsh to erect a hospital near the Connecticut River in Windham County in Vermont, to the one thousand acre complex of today, the Retreat's history is a chronicle of dedication, skillful direction, and sometimes outright Yankee ingenuity of the original trustees selected by Mrs. Marsh, their successors, and the superintendents that they hired. In one hundred forty-nine years there have been only twenty-four trustees, with an average tenure of twenty-five years. One member served fifty-seven years. During the first hundred years there were only three superintendents; to date only nine.

In the early nineteenth century the burden of care for the mentally ill fell upon the family, which could often do little more than confine the ill to strong rooms and sometimes chains. The prevailing thought was that mental illness was demon-inspired, and little was known about effective treatment. One theory of treatment was total immersion in water for several minutes, followed by immediate resuscitation to cause shock to the system sufficient to restore normality. This method was tried on a friend of the Marsh family. Failing to effect a change in the patient, it was followed by a massive dose of opium, with fatal results. This incident possibly influenced Anna Marsh's desire to develop a hospital where dignified and humane treatment could be pursued. At the time it was estimated that one person per thousand would need treatment, and in Vermont this would have been approximately three hundred. The Retreat, known then as the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, was charted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont in 1834, not only as a private hospital, but also as the first psychiatric hospital for state patients. Limited funds were appropriated the legislature for their care.

In November of 1836, a two-story frame farm house, the "White House" (demolished 1857), was purchased and converted for twenty patients. An additional forty-nine acres of garden and meadow were acquired across the road (then called the Newfane Road), the present site of the major complex of the Retreat. "There is not a more beautiful spot on earth than that which you have secured in Vermont for the insane," observed prison reformer Rev. Louis Dwight that year. (1)

Dr William H Rockwell was chosen as the first superintendent at a salary of $1,000 per annum, $400 of which he returned voluntarily the first year, exemplifying the altruism which would mark his tenure. His method of treatment was undoubtedly influenced by Dr. Eli Todd, under whom he had served at the Connecticut Retreat. This philosophy of mental health treatment, developed by Philippe Pinel (1759-1826) of France, Vincenzo Chiarugi (1759-1820) of Italy, and William Tuke (1732-1819) of England, emphasized the healthy part of a patient's personality. It defined mental illness as physical disease which could be cured in a caring, structured environment which included useful employment, cultural and recreational pursuits, and wholesome nutrition in a simulated family setting, with the physician as "father."

Within a year of opening, applicants were being turned away for lack of space. An appeal to the Vermont legislature produced a building appropriation of $4,000, with the proviso that preference be given to Vermont residents. Captain Merchant Toby, builder of Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts, was retained, and in 1838 a three-story brick structure (1-A) with attached two-story west wing (1-B) was erected at a cost of $12,300 on the property east of Newfane Road. It reflected the classical design of its progenitors, the York (England) Retreat (1798) and the Connecticut Retreat (1824). An ingenious application of the moral treatment concept was the cast-iron window sash in each room, painted white to match and simulate a wooden sash, thus avoiding the confined appearance of iron bars.

The Retreat now offered pleasant rooms (each patient was to have a private room with bed, fixed seat, chair, work table, and mirror when suitable). The building design provided separation according to degree of illness (classification), with experienced attendants treating the patients as "family." Amusement consisted of theatre, lectures, dances, a library, daily rides and walks, and open-air exercise in beautiful surroundings. Work assignments in the garden and dairy farm (the first in a mental institution), located on the 45 acres purchased in 1836, provided purposeful employment for the patients, food for the hospital, and additional operating revenue.

Expansion was rapid in the years following. With partial financial help from the legislature, an east wing (1-G) was added in 1841 and an extension to the west wing (1-B) in 1844, providing symmetry to the facade. Property now included fifty-one acres, with an average census of one hundred forty-seven patients.

In 1842, a 17-year-old patient was permitted to pursue his trade of printing at the offices of the Brattleboro Phoenix. Within a month he set type and brought home a proof of the Asylum Journal. A printing press was purchased, and under the aegis of the young editor a weekly newspaper was published (the first one regularly published at a mental institution). Within a year this young man was cured and discharged and went on to pursue a distinguished career as editor and publisher. The Journal was published for another three years, during which time it provided therapeutic employment for scores of patients who participated in the writing, selecting, composing, copying and printing. This innovative enterprise, while providing a sense of pride in cooperative accomplishment to the patients, brought additional dividends. It was sent to over two hundred publishers, who reciprocated with copies of their own periodicals, " furnish every patient with a newspaper of his own political views, and every sectarian with a religious periodical of his own peculiar sentiments." (2)

Dr. Rockwell was an early member and contributor to the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, the forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association. No less than nine superintendents of eastern mental hospitals received training under his tutelage.

In 1844 the editor of the American Journal of Insanity, commenting on the rates charged by the hospital (as low as $2.00 per week, or $80.00 per year), expressed concern that they were too low to provide adequate care. Dr. Rockwell's experience, however, indicated that occupational therapy, i.e. farm work, could produce a return to help defray expenses. The Asylum also believed that low rates were an inducement to a trial of treatment. Also in 1844, the Vermont legislature passed the Act for the Relief of the Insane Poor, whereby state grants for enlarging the Asylum were terminated in favor of formal payments at the rate of $1.50 per patient per week for care of the state's patients. This act increased the pressure for admission, requiring extensions of the east wing (1-H, 1-I) in 1845, which added eighty rooms for a total theoretical capacity of three hundred patients.

The appearance of the hospital changed in 1848. The center building (1-A) was extended forward thirty-three feet and the roof raised, thereby increasing the size and height of the top floor chapel. The return on the east wing (l-H) was extended, providing room for better classification of the female patients.

During this period of building enlargement continuing purchases of additional farm, pasture, and woodlot property took place. In 1849 sixteen acres lying between the main building and the village common were purchased, providing room for gardens and walks and land for future expansion.

Starting in 1851, additions were made each year for the next three years. These included an east wing (1-I) extension (1851), a corner connected building (1-K) behind the east wing for laundry and boiler, and an extension (1-E) and return (1-D) to the west wing (1853), providing better male patient classification while improving symmetry of the building. Seventy rooms were added, with the average number of patients reaching three hundred sixty-one in 1853.

In 1854 a new brick building (1-M) was built north of the main complex, and the thriving farm program was enlarged by the purchase of the 200-acre Eben Wells dairy farm, providing additional cultivation land and dairy products for the patients. A dysentery epidemic in 1854, following an 1853 smallpox outbreak, encouraged the construction, in 1855, of a female infirmary (1-K) in the rear wing of the main building and a male infirmary at the rear of the original "White House." In 1857 the original "White House" was razed and a new three-story brick building (2) constructed. Named the Marsh Building (now the north wing of the present Linden Lodge), it included a number of suites for patients of "superior social position"(3) suffering from dipsomania (alcoholism), who took meals with Dr. Rockwell. Extra chimneys and floor registers improved main building ventilation, and a new brick horse barn was added to the 1854 building (1-M) in 1859, the same year that gas illumination was installed throughout the hospital. The 156-acre Allen farm, including six barns and sheds and the farmhouse, now the Retreat farm complex, was purchased in 1858. Prior to that time the farm buildings were located close to the hospital, but a major fire in 1857 made it obvious that a remote location was preferable. By 1861 the average number of patients had reached four hundred thirty-seven, creating overcrowding. The roofs of the wings of the Main Building (1) were raised, adding a third story of nearly one hundred rooms.

Following a disastrous fire at the Maine Insane Hospital in 1850, the Brattleboro trustees had made a thorough study of fire safety, finding that cisterns and an elevated reservoir provided adequate water Partitions between rooms, furnace chambers, and flues contained no wood, and iron fire doors separated the center building from the wings. A fire bell was installed that year. Nevertheless, a fire broke out in December 1862 in the west wing (1-B) and spread to the center building (1-A), both of which were destroyed except for the outer walls of the wing. By 1863 the burned portions were rebuilt.

1869 saw another extension (1-L), westward from the female infirmary, for a new laundry, nearly enclosing the rear courtyard.

In 1870 a new farm house (26) was built near the site of the Arms Tavern (27), built in 1762 by Major John Arms. The Fairbank Moor family had established the first home in Brattleboro (outside of Fort Dummer) at this site in 1757. The house was burned by Indians in 1758. Captain Moor and his son were killed, his wife and children taken captive to Canada.

During 1872 a committee of the General Assembly reported that an excessive number of patients, four hundred eighty-five, necessitated the use of rooms partly below ground level for some of the patients, causing inadequate heating and ventilation. This was alleviated by the construction, in 1873, of two additional wings (1-F, 1-M) and a new boiler house (1-M) for steam heating, considered more efficient and safer than the hot air system. Another investigation in 1877 confirmed the need for additional space and funds.

Fire broke out in 1877, destroying the boiler house, store house, carriage house, and ice house (l-M). The nearby west wing (1-F) was saved only because of the fireproof construction of the brick cornice. Reconstruction in 1878 added a new building (3) and created a gymnasium in the old store house (1-M), the first gymnasium in the country located in a hospital.

Population increases in the latter part of the nineteenth century overcrowded the nation's asylums. In these difficult times humane psychological care gave way to custodial treatment in many institutions. Individual treatment was impossible, classification broke down, and personnel were chosen on their ability to maintain control. Nevertheless, at Brattleboro, Superintendent Joseph Draper, who had succeeded Dr. Rockwell, instructed attendants to be responsive to the patients' needs while treating them with respect and civility.

During 1880, thirty acres west of Newfane Road were acquired and, under the direction of Mr. Bowditch of Boston, developed into a park for patients.

In 1881 Dr Draper proposed a summer retreat, similar to those in England and Scotland, to provide a change of scenery for groups of twenty five female patients at a time, thereby hastening recovery. The old Burnside Military School (c.1772) (42), then on the Miles property a mile north of the asylum, was purchased and remodeled. This was the first program of its kind in this country.

Sheltered open-air exercise promenades were constructed on the north side of the west (male) wing (1-E) of the main building and eastward from the east (female) wing (1-J) during 1882-83

In 1883 the ridge of the center block (1-A) was raised eight feet, large dormers were placed on each side of the roof, and a cupola added. The interior of the roof was supported by four semicircular arches. The result is the present chapel, with a twenty-foot ceiling and transepts created by the dormers. There were separate altars for Protestant and Catholic services at opposite ends of the room, the pews being reversible. This was the final modification to the Main Building, with the exception of a 1963 appendage (l-C). It increased the roof pitch and overhead mass of the center block (1-A), which had previously been altered by a forward extension, roof raising, and addition of an Italianate projecting pavilion. Nevertheless, the Main Building, particularly the wings (which had undergone minimal alterations of roof-raising and addition of projecting bays) basically maintained its original classical appearance, as it does to this day. This is in contrast to the similarly designed Connecticut Retreat (1824), which was Victorianized.

A camping program for men was started in 1885, and by 1887 a shelter was built at Camp Comfort (51). A more permanent structure, with veranda, was built nearby at Camp Ridgewood (52) in 1902 on the highest Retreat land--a first of its type.

By 1886 a steam-powered integrated heating and ventilating system safely provided steam heat to every ward and by tunnel to the Marsh Building. Fresh air was carried by a system of ventilating shafts and ducts to patient rooms, via transoms, and exhausted through thirty-eight chimneys. The spring house was doubled in size that year. By this time, 1400 acres had been purchased, needed to supply water for hospital use and fire protection, wood for heating, and tillable land to support the garden and dairy

The Vermont legislature passed a law at this time which transferred financial responsibility for the indigent from the towns to the state, adding to the overcrowding problem at the asylum. Dr. Draper and the trustees felt that the creation of a separate state mental institution was the only hope for the asylum to remain a treatment center rather than a custodial facility. This hope was realized when the Vermont State Asylum for the Insane at Waterbury was completed in 1891. At this time one hundred eighty-five patients were transferred to Waterbury, leaving three hundred forty-eight patients at Brattleboro.

During 1888 and 1890 considerable farm construction occurred, including new buildings and stables. The existing house on the Capen property was converted to a men's summer residence, "Oakwood Lodge" (49)--another first which it remained until leased to the Brattleboro Country Club in 1914.

In 1892 the hospital staff and patients completed a gothic stone tower originally started to commemorate the asylum's fiftieth anniversary. This 65-foot granite crenellated tower (12) stands in the park area 250 feet above the main asylum grounds.

The Marsh Building (2) was extensively renovated in 1893. The rear section, the oldest part of the institution, was demolished.

Since the opening of the state institution at Waterbury there was confusion caused by the similarity of the names of the two institutions. In 1893 the legislature approved a name change to BRATTLEBORO RETREAT--meaning a refuge from danger or distress and a shelter for help in difficulty.

At this time the women's Summer Retreat (42) was converted into a residence for borderline cases and renamed Linden Lodge (burned 1920, and not to be confused with the present (2) Linden Lodge). It was a completely self-contained facility. The Pikeville Cottages (45-46) were relocated behind the Lodge and renovated. Concurrently, the main grounds were re-landscaped, a gazebo removed, and new sidewalks laid. The exteriors of all buildings were painted ivory white. Mission Oak furniture was installed in the parlors, embossed steel ceilings and oak door casings added, and the patients' day rooms furnished with rattan furniture.

The beginning of the twentieth century found Retreat physicians conversant with current medical and psychiatric thought, including the new psychoanalytical concepts of Sigmund Freud. The Retreat had not succumbed to custodialism but was still dedicated to moral treatment. The ratio of attendants to patients in 1908 was about one to nine.

During that year the entire Retreat was equipped with external fire escapes by Paul B. Patten of Salem, Mass.

Lawton Hall (10), a three-and-a-half-story Colonial Revival structure, was completed in 1914. It provided nurses quarters, occupational therapy and recreation facilities, including the first swimming pool in a mental hospital in the United States. Stone and lumber were obtained from the Retreat's own property. The building is surmounted by a thirty-six-foot high clock tower, made possible by a bequest of Dr. Draper.

In a complex arrangement, the Retreat granted the local power company the right to raise their dam in 1918, thereby flooding the Retreat meadows just north of the Retreat and creating the present scenic body of water.

In 1920 the original Linden Lodge (42) burned to the ground and was never rebuilt.

In 1922., on land leased from the Retreat, a 65-meter ski jump, the longest east of the Mississippi at that time, was built.

During this period the farm buildings were improved and the piggery rebuilt in concrete (37). In 1927 the newly remodeled dairy barn, and in 1928 the coach barn, burned to the ground; the latter was replaced by a 29-car garage in 1928 (21).

By 1928 the patient population reached a record five hundred sixty eight, and in that year a new Neo-Colonial 3-1/2-story reception hospital, Tyler Hall (7), was completed. Five cottages (16-20) were built 1929-1932 on Linden Street, just north of the Marsh Building, for staff residences. Ripley Nurses Home (8), similar in design and materials to Tyler Hall, was completed in 1931, providing quarters for seventy-five female nurses. Osgood Infirmary (6), similar to Tyler and Ripley Halls but with symmetrical projecting pavilions, was opened in 1933, providing care for ninety-eight nervous and mental invalids who were also physically ill. In 1938 a new, matching south wing was added to the 1857 Marsh Building (2), and the two buildings were joined by a new central section. Solariums were added to the north end to match those on the south end.

By 1940 the patient population had risen to eight hundred ten. The Retreat was still firmly committed to the moral treatment, augmented by improved hydro- and physiotherapy.

Farm production was increased during wartime, when tillable farm land increased to three hundred acres.

Following World War II an affiliation was formed with the Columbia University School of Occupational Therapy, whose interns served residencies at the Retreat.

The cream-colored paint was removed from the exterior of the Main Building (1) in 1950.

In 1956 a Ford Foundation grant was used towards the addition of a five-story wing to Tyler Hall (7), necessary to meet a recent Vermont requirement of seventy square feet per patient.

A nursing home for elderly and chronically ill patients was established in 1962 at the remodeled Marsh Building, renamed Linden Lodge (2). (Not to be confused with the original Linden Lodge (42), which burned in 1920.)

By the mid-1960s, patient population had dropped due to a state austerity program, the advent of tranquilizers and antidepressants which enabled patients to be released sooner, and the decline of the thirty-and-older age group resulting from the lower Depression birth rate. The Retreat faced critical problems of high operating costs, excessive unused space, and need for modernization. Changes in state policy to deinstitutionalize resulted in a new role for the Retreat as a community mental health center. A sheltered workshop (5) and vocational training program were started in 1970, at which time the Retreat was designated as the Vocational Rehabilitation Center for Vermont, New Hampshire, and part of Massachusetts.

In 1974 the Main Building (1) was closed for residential use, with transfer of inpatients to Ripley (8) and Tyler (7). Under superintendent William Beach, Jr., dual programs for the upgrading of physical facilities and specialization of programs and staff were instituted. Patient areas were refurbished with original antique furnishings to make them less hospital-like. Current trends toward intensive short-term treatment programs were emphasized, and an affiliation was made with Dartmouth College Medical School. The Retreat was divided into autonomous cooperative entities to provide alternate levels of treatment and rehabilitation, creating the present comprehensive psychiatric medical treatment center

Throughout one hundred fifty years of societal change the Retreat has provided leadership in the field of mental health. The record of its dedication to individualized moral and humane treatment is preserved in the nominated buildings.

1. Draper, Joseph The Vermont Asylum for the Insane: Its Annals for Fifty Years. Brattleboro: Hildreth & Fales, 1887, p. 21.
2. Ibid., p. 63.
3. Ibid., p. 120.


Barry, Harold A., Michelman, Richard E., Mitchell, Richard M., Wellman, Richard H. Before Our Time. Brattleboro: Stephen Greene Press, 1974

Biennial Reports 1844-1982, Brattleboro Retreat, Brattleboro, Vt

Brattleboro Retreat: Neuropsychiatric and Medical Center and Hospital Home. Brattleboro, c.1938.

Cabot, Mary R. Annals of Brattleboro 1681-1895. Vol.II. Brattleboro: E. L. Hildreth & Co., 1922.

Draper, Joseph. The Vermont Asylum for the Insane: Its Annals for Fifty Years. Brattleboro: Hildreth & Fales, 1887.

Freedman, Alfred M., Kaplan, Harold I., Saddock, Benjamin J. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry - II. Baltimore. Williams & Wilkins Co., 1980.

Kirkbride, Thomas S. On the Construction, Organization and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane. 1880. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, 1973.

Swift, Esther Munroe, and Beach, Mona. Brattleboro Retreat: 150 Years of Caring. Brattleboro: Brattleboro Retreat, 1984.

Tuke, D. Hack. The Insane of the United States and Canada. London: H. K. Lewis, 1885.

Tuke, Samuel. Description of the Retreat: An Institution Near York for Insane Persons of the Society of Friends. 1813. Reprint. London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1964.

Personal lnterviews with Mona Beach, Director of Planning, Brattleboro Retreat, by Stephen Sanders, 1982-83.

FORM PREPARED BY: Stephen Sanders, Historic Preservation Consultant, 545 South Prospect Street (Unit 39), VT. Tel: 802-862-8555; 802-368-7742. Date: May 17, 1973.

DATE ENTERED: April 12, 1984.
(Source 127)