National Register Nomination Information:
The Hartness House is one of the few good Shingle Style houses in the State of Vermont. Originally basically rectangular in plan, the building has been extended in recent years by additions to accommodate its present function as a restaurant and inn.
It is 2-1/2 stories in height. The ground floor is constructed of uncoursed fieldstone, giving a visual weightiness capable of supporting the upper stories. The entrance, near the center of the long side of the rectangular plan, is reached by a recessed porch whose roof is supported by a segmental arch, also of fieldstone. The entry is actually within a shallow cross-gable which will be discussed below.
To the right (south) of the entry is a two-story, projecting wooden three-part bay window; to the right of this is a formerly open porch, with stone base and piers, and a flat roof with a wooden balustrade. On the plain facia-board of the porch roof are paired, shaped, rafter tails, which occur only above the stone piers, Directly above these, interrupting the balustrade, are panelled pedestals. This porch has been enclosed and contains plain modern sash.
To the left (north) of the entry is a one-story semicircular projecting bay, deeply overhung by a shingled conical roof. Windows in this projection are in heavy frames, and each is topped by a transom.
To the left of this is what appears to have been another open porch, also of fieldstone. It is partially engaged into the main block of the house, and has a small shed roof with exposed, shaped rafter tails on the side facade. On the main elevation, the porch roof is supported by a broad segmental arch.
The second story projects approximately a foot beyond the first, and is sheathed in coursed shingles. Its bays are asymmetrically placed with regard to the ground floor. There is a rectangular oriel window over the pier separating the semi-circular projection and the northernmost porch. This oriel has a thermal window, with muntins radiating from the central upper pane; and two very narrow flanking windows. To the right of the oriel is a pair of small square windows-with diamond-pane windows.
This entire visual unit - oriel and paired square windows - is sheltered by a projecting third floor wall dormer. It is infilled with shingles which flare at its base and contains neo-palladian window. This two-story grouping is the major stylistic feature of the northern (left) side of the main facade, and serves as a counterweight to the cross-gable over the entrance.
There are also numerous rectangular windows of varying proportions, including some with round-headed arched windows as "transoms," on the remainder of the second floor of the facade of the main block.
Asymmetrically placed, between the large wall dormer and the cross-gable, is a small hipped roof dormer, with paired 1/1 sash.
At this point, the main block is interrupted by the cross-gable containing the entrance. This portion of the building also rises from an uncoursed fieldstone first floor, through shingled second and third floors. Its roof has three slopes. The north (left) side of the ridge has a break above the third floor, so the effect is a half gambrel.
The second floor of the cross-gable contains tall paired windows, with diamond-pane upper sash, above the entrance. These windows are joined by a small window immediately to the left, creating a typically Shingle Style asymmetry. The right side of the main facade of the cross-gable continues the three-part projecting bay from the ground floor, flanked at this level by two small windows.
The third floor of the cross-gable overhangs the second, as the second does the first, by about a foot, and is shingled. The third floor contains only a small three-part window, whose outer two portions are diamond-paned, and a very small plain window.
Fenestration on other facades is similarly asymmetrical, continuing the visual activity of the building. The only place on the facade where bays line up is in the three-part projecting bay, and there almost self-consciously.
The house includes five underground rooms and an underground observatory containing a Russell Porter telescope (see Stellafane Observatory, Windsor County, Vermont, 11-7-77).
To the rear of the building a long addition was added in the mid-20th century. Although it would seem to detract from the character of the building, it is nearly invisible from Orchard Street.
The Hartness House derives its significance primarily from two areas: as a relatively rare example in Vermont of the Shingle Style; and as the home of a prominent Vermont industrialist and public figure.
As built, the building typifies the style at nearly its highest expression. The mass of the stone ground floor visually supports the upper floors, which are uniformly shingled. The variety of roof shapes, combined with several different window sizes and types, creates the irregular appearance typical of Shingle Style buildings. However, some regularity is introduced by the shadow lines of the overhang at each story.
A recent clapboarded addition on the left (north) end, while not faithful to the style of the rest of the building, does not severely detract from the overall appearance of the building.
The house was built for James Hartness. Born in 1861 at Schenectady, New York, he was working in a machine shop by age 16. After being employed in numerous machine shops in New England, he joined Jones and Lamson Machine Company in Springfield in 1889. He became president of the firm in 1900.
Throughout his career, Hartness was continuously inventing and improving the machine industry. Among his inventions were the flat turret lathe, automatic die and double-spindle lathe.
The Hartness House was built in 1904 at the height of his career. He went on to make significant contributions to his profession, as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; to the State, serving as Governor in 1921-1922, and to the nation, as a member of the International Aircraft Standardization Commission and the National Screw Thread Commission. At age 54, he became one of the first one hundred licensed pilots in America, earning his wings in a Wright biplane. In 1927, his good friend Charles Lindburgh landed at the nearby airport and was a guest in the house.
Hartness was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including an M.E. from the University of Vermont, and an M.S. from Yale University. He died February 3, 1934.
Vermont's architectural tradition includes relatively few examples of highly developed Shingle Style buildings; even eclectic vernacular examples are not common. This environment of generally regular Federal and Greek Revival style houses makes the Hartness House stand out in sharper focus than if it were, for example, on the North Shore of Massachusetts.
While it might be an exaggeration to call Hartness a captain of industry, he was an extremely important person in a town almost wholly dependent on the machine tool industry. Thus, his house is a monument to the time in our history (which may not have ended) when wealthy industrialists built large estates which clearly showed they were people of means.
The Hartness property at one time consisted of a large tract of land, roughly crescent shaped, one mile long and two miles wide. The land included in this nomination is the extent of the property presently associated with the Harkness House, Inc., and totals approximately five acres.
Fisher, Courtney (comp.) Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey; Springfield, Windsor County, 1973.
Roe, Joseph W. James Hartness: A Representative of the Machine Age at its Best. New York: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1937.
DATE ENTERED: December 20, 1978.
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