Theophilus Crawford House (Hickory Ridge House)
Municipality: Putney, VT
Location: Hickory Ridge Road
Site Type: House
Vt Survey No: 1313-16
UTMs: (Zone 18) 1. 700720/4763540. 2. 700940/4763460. 3. 700840/4763270. 4. 700510/4763280.
National Register Nomination Information:
Surrounded by informally landscaped grounds and largely open fields on a sloping hillside, the Theophilus Crawford House consists of a substantial Federal style, brick main block with an asphalt-shingled hip roof carrying five brick chimneys and a wood framed rear ell with an asphalt-shingled gable roof. The two story, five-by-four-bay main block possesses on the main (north) facade a formal central entrance with paneled pilasters, sidelights, and a semielliptical fanlight below a Palladian window on the second story. Additional stylistic features include blind semielliptical arches above the other windows and an enriched eaves entablature. The Georgian-plan interior displays molded woodwork, plain wainscoting, paneled and multi light doors, and six fireplaces with varying ornament. The plainer two-story, ten-by-two-bay ell incorporates a four-bay recessed porch on its east eaves facade next to a one-story, four-by-one-bay, shed-roofed projection. The house is maintained in good condition and retains historic integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association Standing northwest of the house, a one-story, wood framed, gable-roofed cottage has been altered to the extent that it has lost its historic character.
The Crawford House and the related cottage are sited on the south side of the paved Hickory Ridge Road. The buildings stand on the gradual northeast slope of a hill that defines the southwest side of the Sacketts Brook valley. An open field surrounded by mostly deciduous treelines extends away from the house toward the southeast; a small lot has been subdivided from the north side of this field for a house (excluded from this National Register nomination) built there about 1970. Along the west side of the Crawford House a rather steep bank with partly exposed bedrock and deciduous trees ascends to the higher level of a field occupied partly by a modern private school building.
On the opposite (north) side of the road, another open field extends down the gradual slope toward the brook. A cluster of three closely spaced outbuildings - a barn, a shed, and a garage - adjoins the edge of the road, each building oriented perpendicular to it. These outbuildings together with the surrounding farmland relate historically to the Crawford House. However, the have been separated from the house in ownership, and therefore are excluded from this National Register nomination.
The Crawford House is set back a moderate depth from the road on a slightly higher level. A retaining wall built of fieldstone laid without mortar begins in front of the house and emerges to a height of about three feet along the east side of the front grounds. Three sets of initials - CHH, DBH, and CH - are carved into individual stones; these may refer to members of the Houghton family that owned the house during the 1920s. A gravel driveway follows the line of the east wall on the lower ground level, ending in a turnaround next to the house's rear ell. Mature maple and black locust trees shade the front and west grounds. A screen of mostly exotic coniferous trees follows a stone wall along the edge of the road southeastward from the driveway.
The main block of the house is oriented parallel to the road, and its front facade faces northeastward. Attached to the west half of the main block's rear (south) facade, the elongated ell constitutes a secondary block related cottage stands closer to the road at the northwest corner of the house's front grounds.
Theophilus Crawford House; 1807-08
The two-story main block of the Crawford House rests on a foundation of elongated granite blocks. The house extends five by four bays or 45 by 35 feet in the east-west and north-south dimensions respectively. The brick walls display two different bonds; the more publicly visible main (north) and east facades are laid in Flemish bond while the west and rear (south) facades are laid in the more prosaic six-course American bond.
Crowning the walls on the east, north, and west facades, the frieze is decorated with a band of miniature triangular arcading surmounted by a cable molding below the molded cornice of relatively shallow projection. On the south facade, the frieze lacks enrichment.
Rising to a short east-west ridge, the hip roof is covered with asphalt shingles. Five interior brick chimneys of broad rectangular section emerge near the eaves, one at each (north and south) end of the east and west slopes and the fifth centered on the south slope; each carries a rebuilt corbeled cap topped by a concrete slab.
The five-bay main (north) facade presents to the public highway a symmetrical arrangement of openings and ornamental features The focus of this facade, the central bay contains the entrance on the first story and a Palladian window on the second story. The flanking bays differ between the stories only in the division of their sash.
The entrance ensemble focuses on a slightly recessed, six-panel door retaining apparently original iron strap hinges and an iron latchset, now protected by a modern metal storm door. Flanking the doorway are two-over-two sidelights of two-thirds length enframed by torus moldings. A semielliptical fanlight with radiating muntins surmounts the door and the sidelights. Nearly flush with the brick wall surface, slender paneled pilasters support a semielliptical molded architrave decorated with single rosettes alternating with clusters of five gouged bars. Interrupted only by the doorway, a continuous molded baseboard rests on the soapstone sill. A semielliptical brick relieving arch spans the opening.
A one-bay, gable-roofed, Colonial Revival porch was added to the entrance probably about 1930 and then removed about 1980. Its brick deck and steps have been left in place without railings. The silhouettes of paired columns appear in white paint on the brickwork flanking the doorway while black stain outlines the former gable roof above the opening.
Directly above the entrance, a Palladian window is centered on the second story. Its central twelve-over-twelve sash is crowned by a semicircular transom with intersecting tracery. A four-over-six sash occupies each side position. (All three sash are now protected by one-over-one metal storm sash.) Above a continuous wood sill, a smooth surround is outlined by a torus molding around its perimeter. A splayed brick flat arch interrupted by a central semicircular arch surmounts the opening. Added probably about 1930, two-panel folding wood shutters with a cut-out leaf in the small upper panel are hung the other windows on the main block.
The other bays on this facade contain single double-hung sash. The first-story openings are fitted with apparently original six over-six sash while those on the second story have twelve-over twelve sash; all are now protected by one-over-one metal storm sash. Above the wood sills, the smooth surrounds are outlined by torus moldings. A semielliptical brick arch with a blind transom surmounts each opening.
The east and west facades share nearly identical appearance in their asymmetrical four-bay arrangement. The two bays on the north half of each facade are spaced farther apart than the two south bays. The second bay from the north corner on each facade contains an entrance fitted with a fifteen-light door (plus a metal storm door). These doors were apparently installed in when Colonial Revival porches were added to these facades about 1930; the porches were removed about 1980 and the doors now lack access from the exterior. On the east facade, an opening in the stone foundation directly below the door has been infilled with brick. The window treatment on these facades matches that on the main (north) facade.
The east facade differs from the west facade primarily by having a below-grade basement entrance under its left bay. The vertical-boarded door is approached by a downward-sloping passageway between mortared fieldstone retaining walls sheltered by a recent (1986) wood-shingled gabled canopy resting on square posts. To the right of this entrance, the foundation is punctuated with horizontal four-light sash under the left-center and right bays.
The rear (south) facade is exposed only on its right (east) half next to the south ell. The irregularly arranged openings lack the semielliptical arches present elsewhere on the main block. The windows retain the original twelve-over-twelve sash. Sheltered by the recessed east porch of the south ell, an entrance in the left center bay has a twelve light over one panel door.
The interior of the main block is arranged in a somewhat modified Georgian plan. The center stair hall leads to rooms occupying the entire front (northeast and northwest) quadrants of both the first and second floors plus the left rear (southeast) quadrant of the second floor. At the rear of the hall on the first floor, a large central room occupies two-thirds the width of the house; a single narrow room remains in the southeast corner while the southwest corner has been partitioned into smaller rooms. On the second floor, the hall extends the full depth of the house; the southwest quadrant has also been subdivided, probably in the 1920s, by the installation of the first bathrooms in the house. With one apparent exception, each room in the main block originally possessed a fireplace for heating. Only the southeast room on the first floor now lacks a fireplace, either exposed or concealed within a wall. In the case of the bathrooms on both floors in the southwest quadrant, the fireplaces have been enclosed within the rebuilt interior walls.
The rooms share the general finish materials. The floors are laid in medium-to-wide tamarack (larch) boards on the first floor and spruce on the second floor; those on the first floor and the two front rooms of the second floor have been sanded and clear coated while the others on the second floor are painted. The walls and ceilings are plastered and painted; additionally, some rooms have painted board wainscoting below the chair rail.
The decorative treatment varies from room to room in richness of features. The center hall displays features repeated in several rooms although not always in the same form. A low molded baseboard encircles the hall below the board wainscoting. The molded chair rail is distinguished from the others in the house by an incised triglyph motif. The molded ceiling cornice also differs from the form used in the other rooms by having a shallow profile and lacking a frieze; the cornice on the second floor of the hall matches those elsewhere. Entering each front parlor, a single-leaf door with four recessed panels and original iron latchset is enframed by a molded surround. A fifteen-light door has been installed at the rear of the hall. The open-string stair ascends the right (west) wall, incorporating slender columnar newel posts, square balusters, and a molded hand rail.
The northeast parlor exhibits the most elaborate array of decorative features. The baseboard carries a heavier molding than elsewhere in the house. The chair rail matches the molding of that in the hall but lacks the incised triglyph motif. The door surrounds themselves are enframed by slender paneled pilasters carrying a molded entablature atop the opening. The window openings possess splayed paneled reveals and molded surrounds; below the narrow sills, the flush-boarded wall panels are recessed half the depth of the sash. The ceiling cornice matches those in most other rooms by having a rather wide frieze.
The fireplace in the northeast parlor engages the east wall between the two exterior bays. Above the brick tile hearth, the brick firebox opening is flanked by slender fluted pilasters carrying smooth architrave and paneled frieze blocks; these blocks extend downward farther than the corresponding members that span the opening. The latter frieze is augmented by a stepped-out head block. The molded cornice shelf is incised with miniature arcading along its upper edge.
The opposite (northwest) parlor, now used as a guest bedroom, presents a less formal appearance. The door and window surrounds match those in the center hall. The window reveals are not paneled, and a simple molded chair rail forms a continuous sill; the wall surfaces below the sash are not recessed. Engaging the west wall, the fireplace has a distinctive brick hearth laid in zig-zag pattern but its firebox opening has only a molded surround below the plain frieze and molded mantelshelf.
Apart from its matching ceiling cornice, the central rear room appears plainer than the parlors. The door and window surrounds have smooth faces with cavetto perimeter moldings. Installed probably about 1930, a broad doorway with double-leaf, 15 light doors opens the east wall. Dominating the south wall between the window bays, a relatively large fireplace highly splayed sides, and a molded mantelshelf.
Echoing the treatment of the parlors directly below, the northeast front bedroom on the second floor exhibits more elaborate ornament than the northwest counterpart. The northeast bedroom repeats most of the molded woodwork in the parlor but the window reveals are not paneled and the door surrounds are crowned by plain friezes and cornice caps.
The fireplace also appears similar to its counterpart in the northeast parlor. Offset on the left side of the chimney breast, the firebox opening is flanked by slender paneled pilasters supporting smooth architrave and frieze blocks whose levels correspond to those spanning the mantel. The frieze bears a molded head panel and the molded mantelshelf lacks enrichment.
Attached to main block's south facade, the south ell also rises two stories in height but on a smaller scale than the main block. The ell has a post-and-beam wood frame sheathed with clapboards. The ridge of its asphalt-shingled gable roof meets the eaves of the main block's south facade. A rebuilt boxed cornice follows the eaves of the ell's roof. At its north end next to the main block, the east eaves projects somewhat into the visual opening of the second-story hall window; this suggests that, prior to the 1920s, the ell's roof may have been raised from its original height to accommodate a full second story.
The ell's east eaves facade presents a somewhat irregular arrangement of ten bays. On the first story, a four-bay porch is recessed into the right side next to the main block; it incorporates boxed posts, a lattice skirt, and a beadboarded ceiling. Leading to the kitchen, the house's most actively used entrance occupies the second bay from the right corner; it has a main door with twin vertical lights above smaller twin panels plus a combination wood storm door. A secondary entrance on the left side of the porch has a one-light, four-panel door. Most of the window openings on this facade are fitted with six-over-six sash, plain surrounds, and louvered wood shutters.
To the left of the porch, a one-story, shed-roofed projection extends four bays in length but only one bay in depth. Originally added to the south ell as a two-bay garage extension, this projection together with the garage space was adapted in 1987 to living space. The garage bays were entered by twin sets of double-leaf doors, each having eight lights over four vertical panels; one leaf from those doors remains as a pedestrian entrance in the right bay of the projection's east front. The left three bays are fitted with recycled six-over-six sash A six-light-over-four-panel door enters the projection's narrow south end.
The ell's two-bay rear (south) gable facade was altered in 1987 on the first story. A small one-story, clapboarded, shed-roofed wing containing the "three-hole" outhouse was removed, and two sets of sliding glass doors were installed in its place. The second story retains two windows with six-over-six sash. A small rectangular louver ventilates the gable peak.
Flush with the main block's counterpart, the west eaves facade has the most irregular arrangement of door and window openings on the ell. A modern three-part window illuminates the left end of the first story (the kitchen) while a nine-light-over-two-panel door enters a left-central bay. The other bays are lighted mostly by six-over-six sash.
The interior of the ell has been altered to a greater extent than that of the main block. The kitchen occupies the entire depth of the first floor next to the main block. The remainder of the first floor has been converted from its historic uses as carriage and wood shed to residential space. A passageway formerly extended along the west wall between the kitchen and a one-story, shed-roofed outhouse appended to the ell's south facade. Most of the remaining first-floor area was simply open space at ground level for sheltering vehicles. The second floor retains its historic linear arrangement of small rooms reached by a corridor along the east wall. These rooms share narrow tongue-and-groove, yellow pine floor boards and doors with five recessed horizontal panels, indicating a renovation in the early twentieth century.
The most significant alteration in the appearance of the main block occurred probably about 1930. High-style Colonial Revival porches were attached to the main (north), east, and west facades. Standing on the extant brick deck at the main entrance, a one-bay, gable-roofed porch incorporated single smooth columns with Ionic capitals at the outer corners and pairs of engaged square columns with matching capitals at the wall surface. These supported a denticulated entablature with a vertically exaggerated frieze along the eaves of the shallow-pitched gable roof. Short perpendicular ears of the entablature surmounted the outer engaged columns at the wall surface, and short cornice returns marked the front lower corners of the open gable.
Spanning the central two bays of both the east and west facades, symmetrical three-bay, flat-roofed side porches each had the smooth Ionic columns at the outer edge and only a single engaged square column at each corner on the wall surface. A balustrade with turned balusters protected the porch deck, and another with square newel posts surmounted the perimeter of its roof. The downward slope of the ground required the use of brick piers to support the east porch; a lattice skirt alternated with the piers. All three porches were removed about 1980.
The exterior appearance of the south ell has been subjected to more numerous alterations, especially on the first story. Until at least about 1930, the east facade was marked by a broad trabeated two-bay opening at ground level for vehicles in the position of the present one-story projection. That projection was added apparently to increase the depth of the interior space to accommodate longer vehicles, as noted above, its front was entered by twin sets of double-leaf, eight-light-over-four-panel garage doors.
Cottage; early 19th century?, enlarged 1950s-1987
The original block of this small building was probably used historically as a blacksmith shop. Since 1950, the building has been enlarged repeatedly and converted to a residence. The alterations have resulted in the loss of the building's historic character, and it is considered noncontributing to the character of the Crawford House property.
The one-story, clapboarded cottage consists of two (east and west) blocks connected by a central hyphen. Each block carries an asphalt-shingled gable roof with a boxed cornice along the eaves. The window openings contain mostly six-over-six sash (plus one-over-one metal storm sash) with plain surrounds.
Oriented with its one-bay north gable facade toward the road, the original west block was enlarged first by a shed-roofed west wing with the primary entrance on its north side; during the 1960s, a south extension was added. Attached in 1987 to the west block's east eaves facade, the central hyphen has a recessed entrance porch on its one-bay north eaves facade. Built in 1987 at an oblique angle to the hyphen, the two-by-two-bay east block is marked by a slightly higher ridge and windows set at its corners.
The Theophilus Crawford House possesses significance for embodying the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, specifically a Federal style house built of brick in 1807-08. The outstanding features of the house including a Palladian window, a fanlighted main entrance, semielliptical arches above its door and window openings, a carved eaves entablature, and molded interior woodwork exemplify the Federal style as it generally appears in Vermont. The house reflects the financial success of its original owner, Theophilus Crawford (1764-1856), a dairy and sheep farmer, mill owner, and local politician. The house and farm continued to belong to members of the Crawford family for more than a century, a notable longevity of ownership.
Within the context of Vermont's historic architectural environment, the Theophilus Crawford House constitutes an outstanding example of early 1800s Federal style residential design expressed in brick construction. The house may have been the first built entirely of brick in Putney among a small number erected before 1825 and the subsequent transition to Greek Revival style. Only one of those houses, the White-Kimball House dating from c. 1815, exhibits slightly higher Federal style (that house was listed in the National Register as part of the Putney Village Historic District on February 20, 1986). The Crawford House may have been the model for the nearly identical Elijah Ranney House built c. 1810 in nearby Westminster West. These houses rank among the earliest of their style and material in southeast Vermont.
The period of significance for the Theophilus Crawford House coincides with the year(s) of its construction in 1807-08.
Partly to escape indebtedness, James and Grace Carpenter Crawford moved from Union, Connecticut to Westminster, Vermont in 1769, bringing their four surviving children. Theophilus, the only son, was born in Union on April 25, 1764. Another daughter, Lydia, was born in Westminster in 1772. The family settled ultimately on a farm in the West parish but remained poor. James was absent for some time while serving in the military during the Revolutionary War. Somewhat better educated than most women of that period, Grace kept school in their home, and Theophilus received his only formal education in that manner.
On October 26, 1788, Theophilus married Annis Johnson (1766-1851), a native of Massachusetts. Three sons (David, Henry, and James~ and two daughters (Sally and Gratia) were born to the couple between 1789 and 1798 while they lived in Westminster. A few years after his marriage, Theophilus managed to buy a farm not far from his parents' farm in Westminster West.
In 1799, Theophilus sold the Westminster farm and purchased one from Amos Haile a few miles to the south in the adjoining town of Putney. The 217-acre farm was located in the upper Sacketts Brook valley about a mile northwest of the emerging Putney village. Haile had been the first settler on this land prior to 1768. He had already built two houses on the farm; Theophilus and his family moved into one house and his parents into the other. One of these wood-framed houses stood across the road somewhat to the north of the present brick house, and was removed when the latter was constructed.
The property also included a saw and grist mill (now gone) built by Haile where the road crosses the brook a short distance to the northwest. The second Haile house, an example of the Cape Cod type, survives across the brook from the mill site. This house became known as the miller's house, being held in common ownership with the mill.
In his manuscript autobiography, Theophilus' first son, David Crawford, provides a rather cryptic explanation of his father's early financial success. "My father inherited all his mother's energies, and when he arrived at manhood, by his great exertions and good calculations, the circumstances of the family rapidly improved."
The Grand List of Putney for 1805 indicates the extent of Theophilus' improving circumstances at that point. His farm, including the two wood-framed houses, was appraised at a value of $400.00, an intermediate amount among the listed property values. His dairy herd, comprising four three-year-old and 13 two-year old cows, was among the largest in Putney. Other livestock included four oxen for working the farm and two horses for transport.
Biographical notes written about 1910 by a granddaughter, Lucy Burnham Burling, reveal what Theophilus produced for sale from the farm (and how he spent some of the income). "He always took his produce, largely butter and cheese, a hundred miles to Boston, bringing back family supplies, including leghorn hats and kid slippers for the girls and their mother and oranges, lemons, and other fruits not seen in the neighborhood." Theophilus undoubtedly received higher prices for his produce in Boston than he would have on the local market.
Although not mentioned in Burling's notes, Theophilus also operated the saw mill on the farm and presumably gained some income together with sawn timbers and boards from that enterprise. He sold the mill in 1812 to John T. Cambridge, who used it also as a fulling mill.
Theophilus and Annis' family continued to increase in number after the move to Putney. The first son born here, Mark A., would eventually take over the farm. His birth on October 20, 1800 was followed by that of three sisters (Fanny, Lydia, and Annis) and a brother (Theophilus) during the next ten years, bringing to ten the ultimate number of children.
Less than a decade after acquiring the farm, Theophilus Crawford undertook the construction of an imposing new brick house. Probably the most reliable reference to the specific year appears in Lucy Burling's notes. "In 1807, he built the best house in the county rising every morning at four o'clock to haul all the bricks of which the house was built. The window glass he brought from Boston and the panes were of much larger size than any in the vicinity." The house may have taken more than one year to complete, and thereby account for the date of 1808 that appears in other references.
The statement about the window glass having been brought from Boston contrasts with other accounts in more recent sources that the bricks were brought from Boston or Cambridge. The latter seems implausible both for the quantity of the required bricks and the 100-mile distance. Furthermore, a brickyard is known to have existed near East Putney by the late 18th century. By "rising every morning at four o'clock," Theophilus could have hauled an ox-cart load of bricks from that brickyard to the house site in time for the mason to lay them the same day.
The brick house was completed by 1809. The Putney Grand List of that year recordfi a value of $1,000.00 for the property, fully $600.00 higher than the amount four years earlier. Coincidentally, Theophilus Crawford was one of the three Putney listers in 1809.
In his historical sermon delivered in 1825, the Rev. Elisha Andrews accounted for the brick buildings then present in Putney. "In 1806 there was no brick [house] in Town but one with brick ends, and one brick store. In 1825 there are now 5 [houses] with Theophilus Crawford's being named first. The "one with brick ends" stands about a mile southeast of the Crawford house at the edge of Putney village, and the brick store is adjacent to the brick-ended house. Theophilus Crawford's house probably was the first built entirely of brick in the town of Putney.
Other than Lucy Burling's information, little is known about the construction of Theophilus' relatively sophisticated Federal style house. The house ranks among the earliest examples of its style and material in southeastern Vermont. Theophilus may have been a similar house on a trip to Massachusetts and then commissioned one for himself on the Putney farm. The actual builder, however, is unknown.
It appears highly likely that the same builder was responsible for a nearly identical high-style Federal house situated about three miles to the north in Westminster West. In 1791, Theophilus' youngest sister, Lydia, married Elijah Ranney, for whom the Westminster house was built. The Ranney house dates from circa 1810, a couple of years after the Crawford house and therefore was possibly modeled on the latter. In any case, the houses share virtually identical hip-roofed form, front facades, and interior woodwork.
A few years later, circa 1815, a brick house was erected in Putney village expressing a slightly more sophisticated Federal design, probably the culmination of that style in Putney. The house belonged originally to Phineas White, a prominent lawyer and judge, and later to his son-in-law, John Kimball, also a lawyer. Differing in form from the Crawford House by having a gable roof, the White-Kimball House is distinguished especially by a more refined treatment of its main entrance and splayed stone window lintels in place of arches.
Judging from the Putney Grand List of 1814, Theophilus Crawford had become the most successful farmer and wealthiest resident of the town by that time. His real estate was appraised at a value of $1,000.00, ranking as the second highest in Putney. His 60 acres of improved land (used for crops, etc.) tied for the largest number. He kept 14 mature cows and 6 younger ones, the largest herd of cattle, to supply milk for making cheese and butter. (The Merino sheep boom was then underway in Vermont, and presumably Theophilus also owned some but they were not recorded on the Grand List before about 1830.) His draft and riding stock included two oxen and seven horses. His "pleasure carriage(s)" were worth $150.00, the most valuable in town. Serving in the role of private banker, he had in money on hand or loaned at interest the sum of $2,000, tied for the highest amount in Putney.
Eight years later, the Grand List of 1822 shows that Theophilus' pre-eminent position in Putney was beginning to recede somewhat-- His real estate was then valued at $1,100.00, but it had slipped to third rank. His dairy herd had increased to 28 in number but it was second largest. The value of his improved land (acreage not given) was $850.00, ranking fourth in town. His personal property was worth S61.80 while his money on hand or loaned had decreased to $200.00.
Concurrent with his farming activities, Theophilus engaged actively in public affairs. He held during the period 1805-28 several different positions in town government, including selectman and justice of the peace. Between 1816 and 1819, he served on the state Executive Council advising the governor. In the latter year, he also held the position of sheriff of Windham County. Theophilus was well-known for his interest in political history, and in 1822 he became a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention. His political career culminated in 1823, when he was elected as Putney's representative in the Vermont Legislature.
By 1830, when Theophilus reached 65 years of age, he had brought his fourth son, Mark, into partial ownership of the farm. The Grand List of that year records father and son as joint owners of the livestock while Theophilus retained title to the real estate. The latter's value was then $1,000.00 but once again the second highest in town. The livestock included a dairy herd of 22 cows plus six oxen. The Grand List also records that the family was heavily involved with sheep, its 400 animals being the largest flock in Putney.
Surviving policies document that Theophilus purchased fire insurance for his house and outbuildings at least by 1830. A policy (No. 1251) was issued in January of that year by the Vermont Mutual Fire Insurance Co. of Montpelier in the amount of $1,485.00. The policy covered "his brick dwelling house" for $l,355.00 and "his back kitchen and three sheds adjoining" for $130.00 . The "back kitchen" presumably meant a wood-framed appendage, probably the extant ell or an earlier version of it. This policy was in force for six years at a premium of $66.82.
Upon the expiry of the first policy in 1836, Crawford purchased another fire insurance policy (No. 17,767) from the same company. The new policy provided coverage worth $1,900.00. over a six-year term at a premium of $85. 50. The "dwelling house & back buildings" were covered for $1,400.00, the "household furniture therein" for $300.00, and the "barns & sheds" for $200.00 . The barns were presumably sited across the road from the house where the presently extant (1994) barn and sheds stand.
The Grand List of 1837 records another partial change in ownership of the home farm. Theophilus and Mark are listed as joint owners of both the livestock and the real estate. The value of the house was reduced to $850.00 but it held third rank in town. The Crawfords were clearly shifting their emphasis in livestock to sheep: The number of their dairy cows dropped to 17 while the number of sheep increased to 540, again the largest flock in Putney. Theophilus was apparently retiring to the role of private banker; his amount of money on loan had risen to $800.00. On the other hand, the value of his carriage had depreciated to $25.00.
It proved that Theophilus would cancel the second fire insurance policy in October, 1840, fifteen months before it expired. In that year, he reached the age of 75 and transferred his entire remaining interest in the home farm to Mark, who was then 40. Nevertheless Theophilus continued to reside here for sixteen more years until his death at the advanced age of 92 on January 10, 1856. His estate was valued at $11,671.53; notes and bonds accounted for all but $500.00 in real estate, $62.28 in furniture, and $18.00 in wearing apparel.
Mark Crawford remained on the farm his entire life. Following the dominant trend in Vermont agriculture of that period, his primary activities were the breeding of Durham cattle and Merino sheep. Carleton's genealogical history of 1903 states that Mark "carried on an extensive and profitable business" on the farm. In 1855, he purchased the saw and grist mill adjacent to the farm (owned by Theophilus a half-century earlier) but retained it only for a short period. Like his father, Mark participated actively in town affairs, ultimately being elected as Putney's representative in the Vermont Legislature during 1850-51.
Mark Crawford had married Judith H. Mason in 1828. The couple had six children but three of them died before their father. Only one son, Henry, born in 1844 two years after the death of a first son by that name, would stay in Putney. Mark died on May 10, 1861 at the age of 61, having outlived his own father, Theophilus, by only five years.
The third generation of Crawfords to own the "ancestral homestead," Henry Crawford was born January 12, 1844 in the brick house and was 16 years of age when his father died. He purchased the home farm, apparently from his widowed mother, in 1868. Four years later, he married Lydia Lowell (1840-1913) of Boston and the couple subsequently had three children. Over the course of the next four decades, according to Carleton, Henry "carried on general farming with most satisfactory financial results" and became "one of the best known stockmen and horse breeders of Windham county."
An illustrated supplement to the Windham County Reformer newspaper published in 1901 mentions that the sheep husbandry started by Theophilus Crawford remained "the leading business" on the farm until about 1880. Child's Windham County gazetteer of 1884 records that Henry Crawford was then a "breeder of Durham cattle and Merino sheep" and also a tobacco grower, owning 375 acres of land. The ongoing decline in sheep raising throughout Vermont undoubtedly influenced Henry to shift to a different specialty but his choice reflected a strong personal interest in horse breeding and the rearing and training of colts. The newspaper supplement states that Henry "has probably done as much to improve the stock of horses as any man in Windham County." At that point he had about forty horses and colts on the farm. Two years later, Carleton states that he sold "a large number of horses and colts each year." Henry also pressed cider in the old saw and grist mill that had belonged to his forebears.
The newspaper supplement omits a photograph of the Crawford house but provides a brief verbal description. "The great, square, two-story, brick mansion, in excellent repair and good for another century .... It is surrounded by majestic maples, and outlooks commodious barns and broad acres." Henry would live here at least a few more years before his death on May 25, 1916. The second son of Henry, Malcolm (or Malcomb), was born June 4,1875. By 1903, he was a bookkeeper at a machine works in Massachusetts. However he succeeded to the ownership of the home farm in 1907. Malcolm proved the last Crawford to own the farm; six years later (1913), the Vermont National Bank of nearby Brattleboro assumed the title. The Crawford family's possession of Theophilus' brick house was thus concluded after 105 years and four generations of occupancy
The bank was simply the first in a series of short-term owners that marked the subsequent history of the Crawford house and farm. Agricultural enterprise conducted by the owners themselves probably ended with the Crawfords. Thereafter some farming activities continued but it appears that other farmers rented the use of the barns and farmland. The cutting and storage of hay was probably a primary activity.
After a second bank held the property during the latter 1920s, a wealthy businessman from New York acquired the Crawford farm in 1929 apparently for a summer retreat. Edward R. Peckerman and his wife, Sadie, may have been responsible for the marked changes, especially the Colonial Revival porches, made to the house by 1930. The acquisition of the Crawford farm by the Peckermans reflected a trend then underway in Vermont, and being actively promoted by the state government. Affluent urbanites were purchasing abandoned or marginal hill farms for summer residences to escape the rigors of urban conditions. In numerous cases, these farms were transformed into architectural show places.
Photographs taken in 1930 record that the Crawford house was given, presumably by the Peckermans, a thorough rehabilitation. Possibly to make the house appear more stylistically fashionable, three Colonial Revival porches were added to the main and side facades of the main block, their classical features and strict symmetry of forms being typical of the style. Paneled window shutters were added presumably at the same time, and canvas awnings were hung at the second-story windows on the east facade.
The photographs show the entire house in impeccable condition. Furthermore, and perhaps even more unlike a typical Vermont farmstead of the period, the informally landscaped grounds were virtually manicured and furnished with rose arbors and trellises, benches, a lattice fence, and a flagpole. Standing on the higher slope to the rear of the house, a one-story, hip-roofed structure appears to have been a wood-screened summer house (now gone).
Not shown in these photographs but remembered by local residents, peacocks strutted the grounds to contribute an ornamental resplendence seldom seen in Vermont.
The Peckerman ownership of the Crawford house ended in the early 1940s. During a two-decade period beginning in the late 1940s, the house through its owners became involved in the profession of education. Philip and Helen Chase lived here between 1948 and 1965; Philip was a principal in the private Hickory Ridge School from its opening in 1942 to its closure in 1950. The Crawford house next became the residence of a college president. The short-lived Windham College, whose campus (designed by the internationally prominent architect Edward Durrell Stone) lies northeast of Putney village, owned this house between 1965 and 1969. The ell was used as a dormitory for students while the president occupied the main block.
Subsequent owners reversed the most obvious of the changes made to the house about 1930. The three Colonial Revival porches were removed about 1980 although the contemporary window shutters were left in place. The present owners, Jacquelyn Walker and Stephen Anderson, acquired the house in 1986, and have adapted it to provide bed-and-breakfast lodging under the name of Hickory Ridge House. The main block has remained virtually unaltered while the ell has been changed most notably by the conversion of the two bay garage space to living quarters. Most of the contiguous land owned by the Crawford family had previously been sold into separate ownerships; only 24 acres remained by 1986, when the house and 12 acres were separated from the barns and sheds with 12 acres across the road.
The brick main block of the Theophilus Crawford House now (1994) retains essentially intact its original Federal style design and fabric. The addition about 1930 of the Colonial Revival porches and their removal about 1980 have not detracted from the architectural significance of the house. The present appearance of the rear ell represents the continuum of changes that have been made since about 1930; these, however, are concentrated on the first story and are not irreversible.
The Theophilus Crawford House retains sufficient integrity to convey strongly the feeling of the early 19th century period when it achieved significance. It reflects especially the financial success of Theophilus Crawford in his agricultural enterprise, and the social stature then achievable by a farmer. More generally it continues to represent the contemporary fashion of Federal style domestic architecture in rural southeast Vermont. Now maintained in sound condition, the house will likely enter its third century of existence in the same manner that it entered its second, described by the 1901 newspaper supplement as being "good for another century."
Andrews, Rev. Elisha D. "An Historical Sermon Delivered...Fast Day, April 8, 1825 in the Congregational Church ...." Typescript copy in collection of Putney Historical Society, Putney, Vt.
Beers, F. W., et al. Atlas of Windham County, Vermont. New York: F. W. Beers, A. D. Ellis, & G. G. Soule, 1869.
Burg, Stanley I. The Theophilus Crawford Mansion. Unpublished typescript. Putney, Vt.?, 1968.
Burling, Lucy Burnham. Historical notes regarding the Burnham and Crawford families. Eldora, Iowa, c. 1910. Typescript copy in collection of Putney Historical Society.
Campbell, Meghan. Theophilus Crawford, A Prosperous Nineteenth Century Farmer. Unpublished typescript. Putney, Vt.?, 1986.
Carleton, Hiram, ed. Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont (2 vols). New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.
Chace, J., Jr. McClellan's Map of Windham County, Vermont. Philadelphia: C. McClellan & Co., 1856. Reprinted in The Atlas Edition by Old Maps, West Chesterfield, New Hampshire, 1984.
Crawford, David. Crawford Genealogy. 1867? Typescript copy in collection of Putney Historical Society.
Child, Hamilton, comp. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windham County, Vt., 1724-1884. Syracuse, N. Y., 1884.
De Wolfe, Edith, et al, eds. The History of Putney, Vermont 1753-1953. Putney, Vt.: The Fortnightly Club, 1953.
Foster, Rev. Amos. "Putney." in Hemenway, Abby Maria, col. Vermont Historical Gazetteer, Vol. V. Brandon, Vt.: Mrs. Carrie E. H. Page, 1891.
Grandin, Ruth. Historical notes regarding the saw and grist mill owned by Theophilus Crawford. n. d. Collection of the Putney Historical Society.
Grand Lists for the Town of Putney. 1805, 1814, 1819, 1822, 1830, 1835, and 1837. Available at the Office of the Town Clerk, Putney, Vt.
Minard, M. Elizabeth. History of Westminster - Vermont Sesquicentennial Souvenir of Westminster 1791-1941. Westminster, Vt.: Town of Westminster, 1941.
People of Putney 1753-1953. Compiled by the Fortnightly Club of Putney, vt 2nd Edition, October, 1953.
Stevens, Ken, comp. Vital Records of Putney, Vermont to the Year 1900. Pittsford, Vt.: The Genealogical Society of Vermont, 1992.
Walbridge, J. H., comp. "Picturesque Putney, Newfane, Townshend, and Jamaica." Supplement to the Windham County Reformer. Brattleboro, Vt.: Reformer Publishing Co., 1901.
"Westminster West." Souvenir Edition of the Bellows Falls Times Devoted to Towns of Walpole and Westminster. Bellows Falls, Vt.: W. C. Belknap & Co., July 1, 1899.
Documents and correspondence relating to Theophilus Crawford, Putney, Vt., 1814-38. Collection of the Park-McCullough House Museum, North Bennington, Vt.
Photographs of the Theophilus Crawford House and the Crawford Saw and Grist Mill, c. 1930-1941. Collection of the Putney Historical Society.
DATE ENTERED: March 9, 1995
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