Juniper Hill Farm - Maxwell Evarts House
Municipality: Windsor, VT
Location: Juniper Hill Road
Site Type: House
Vt Survey No: 1313-03
UTMs: (Zone 18) A. 710650/4818650. B. 710675/4818550. C. 710525/4818450. D. 710425/4818550. E. 710450/4818675
National Register Nomination Information:
Juniper Hill Farm/Inn (#1) and its accompanying carriage barn (#2) and outbuildings (#3-#8) were built at the turn of the twentieth century on a prominent hill overlooking the town of Windsor, Vermont and the Connecticut River Valley. A long, winding, landscaped drive provides access to the stately residence which faces south toward Paradise Park and Runnemede Lake on the northwest outskirts of Windsor village. The 2-1/2 story, wood frame mansion (#1) in the Colonial Revival style is comprised of a large, symmetrically articulated, hip roofed main block with twin, original, 2 story, hip roofed ells (#1a and b) projecting from the (north) rear. The main block features a neo-Adamesque principal entrance and the remains of a 1 story, prostyle Ionic portico which originally had flanking trellises supported on an Ionic colonnade completing the treatment of the principal facade. The rear ells are distinguished by twin Palladian windows facing each other across the courtyard formed by their projection. The 2 story, wood frame carriage barn (#2) mirrors the Colonial Revival massing of the mansion with its hip roof. The two buildings retain their original architectural integrity, with minor additions to both structures located on secondary facades and dating primarily from the early quarter of the century. Various remains of outbuildings (#3-#8) dating from the first half of the century exist primarily as foundations and are included as non-contributing structures.
The form and massing of the mansion (#1) at Juniper Hill reveal a clear geometric order of well balanced proportions characteristic of the Colonial Revival style. The residence rests on a fieldstone foundation and has clapboard siding as well as a slate covered hip roof from which project 4 massive brick interior chimney stacks and 8 hip roofed dormers. The 2-1/2 story main block has a symmetrically arranged, irregularly bayed principal facade featuring a Colonial Revival principal entrance. The neoAdamesque 6-panel door is flanked by half-length stained glass sidelights with decorative wood muntins and inset lower panels featuring fans and cable molding. Set in a surround of compound molding featuring a keystone and cable molding, the whole is crowned with a semi-elliptical fanlight with stained glass. The transom bar is comprised of a denticulated cornice with rosettes in the frieze and is supported by 4 panelled pilasters with borders of cable molding. A gable roofed entrance hood on braces dates from c. 1970. Sash is generally 6/6 throughout with symmetrically molded trim and aluminum storm sash. Original louvered wood shutters were removed c. 1982. Fenestration is paired on either side of the first story central entrance, with other variations including the 4 pass-sized casement sash with 10 lights each which form the 2 French windows above the entrance portico and 2 small 9-light sash symmetrically arranged on the second story principal facade. The facade is further articulated with fluted Ionic corner pilasters raised from wide plain cornerboards and a complete plain eaves entablature with a molded cornice. A beltcourse, which originally supported the colonnaded arbor, is continued beyond the length of the principal facade by projecting brackets. The prostyle Ionic portico has 8 fluted Greek Ionic columns with entasis and a complete entablature with a denticulated and modillioned cornice. The balustraded roof/deck was removed c. 1970 due to deterioration, as was the colonnaded arbor.
Secondary facades of the main block are similarly detailed, although with an asymmetric arrangement of components. A side entrance is located on the northwest portion of the west facade. An enclosed, gable roofed rear entrance porch replaces original French doors and dates from c. 1980.
The twin, 2 story, hip roofed rear ells (#1a and b) extend 5 bays to the north and are offset 1 bay to the east and west of the side facades of the main block. Each rests on a fieldstone foundation and has clapboard siding and a slate hipped roof with 2 massive interior corbelled brick chimney stacks. Sash and facade details are identical to those on secondary facades of the main block, with noteworthy exceptions being the Palladian windows which face each other across the courtyard formed by the projecting ells and the main block of the mansion. Small scale 8/8 sash light the second story on courtyard facades of the ells. The west library ell (#1a) has a 2 story, hip roofed, screened porch of c. 1915 attached to the southern portion of the west facade. The east service ell (#1b) has a 1 story, 3x1 bay, Queen Anne style porch with turned posts projecting from its east facade where it shelters 3 entrances.
A 2 story, hip roofed garage ell (#1c) of c. 1920 is attached to the north end of the east ell (#1b). It has a fieldstone foundation, clapboard siding, plain cornerboards, 6/6 sash and features vertical board garage doors with 2 hinged leaves.
The first floor interior of the main block is dominated by the central 30' x 40' great hall. The hall is flanked on the east by a large dining room, a stairhall and a butler's pantry, with 2 parlors of approximately equal size comprising the western portion of the first floor plan.
The hall is characterized by narrow board hardwood floors (found throughout the mansion) and high oak panelling covering 2/3 of the height of the wall. The panelled portion of the wall is comprised of a molded baseboard, a long, vertical,recessed panel surmounted by a small square panel set in molded trim, and a complete entablature with a denticulated cornice. There is a similar ceiling cornice, with architrave molding articulating window and door openings. A massive, central fireplace in a projecting brick chimney breast is located at the(north)rear of the hall. It features a rectangular opening trimmed with molded brick, a corbelled mantel shelf, an overmantel with a recessed rectangular portion trimmed with molded and decoratively laid brick, and a corbelled brick cornice. Similar decorative brickwork defines the side faces of the projecting chimney breast.
A large, rectangular entry leads to the stairhall and hallway to the butler's pantry which is located at the northeast rear of the first floor main block. The wide, open, L-shaped staircase rises in 2 flights to the second floor. It features square balusters that are turned in the center, a molded handrail which curls tightly around itself in the newel post position, and molded tread nosing. The butler's pantry is characterized by original cabinetry having doors with glass lights, a ceiling entablature with molded panels in the frieze and heavy, denticulated ceiling cornice, and a period double sink on support legs.
The formal dining room occupies the majority of the eastern portion of the first floor plan of the main block. It is articulated with molded baseboards, symmetrical trim with cornerblocks with patera around window and door openings, and an ornate molded ceiling cornice. The room is distinguished by a mantelpiece that is the most heavily decorated in the mansion. It is set in a projecting chimney breast with a rectangular opening of molded brick flanked by fluted colonnettes that have acanthus leaf capitals. These support a complete ornately molded entablature with raised pictorial panelled end blocks and central tablet. The panels are set in leaf-and-tongue trim, while the cornice is articulated with a fret band and bead molding. The overmantel has a large mirror set in a crossetted surround flanked by fluted pilasters. These are outlined with leaf-and-tongue molding, have oval floral patera in the bases, and have acanthus leaf capitals with egg-and-dart ovolo molding. The modillioned cornice of the overmantel also has an egg-and-dart ovolo molding.
The 2 parlors on the west first floor of the main block are detailed with molded trim that is identical to that in the dining room, except that simple cornice moldings are employed. This articulation is generally utilized throughout the mansion. The southwest front parlor features a rectangular mantelpiece in a projecting chimney breast that has a rectangular opening of molded brick flanked by paired pilasters that are each composed of 3 vertical decorative strips. These pilasters support a frieze with raised panelled end blocks and central tablet with round and oval stylized floral patera articulating the various portions of the frieze. The cornice mantel shelf is set off by a fret band. The northwest rear parlor is distinguished by a rectangular mantelpiece in a projecting chimney breast that has a rectangular opening of molded brick flanked by pilasters with arched panels. The frieze is decorated with incised garlands and wheat ear drops and round stylized floral patera in low relief set between the panelled end blocks and central tablet that feature urns in low relief. The enriched cornice forms a large projecting mantel shelf.
The second floor of the main block has 5 bathrooms and 7 bedrooms opening off a central hallway running the length of the mansion from east to west. Three of the bedrooms have simple fireplaces composed of decoratively laid brick similar to that of the fireplace in the great hall. Four of the bedrooms have noteworthy wooden mantelpieces. An outstanding mantelpiece in the northwest rear bedroom is situated on a projecting chimney breast with bookshelves on the side faces of the projection. The rectangular brick opening is set in architrave trim with a convex curved frieze in a folded "accordian" design and a denticulated cornice. This convex "accordian" fold design (this time with panelled end blocks and central tablet) is employed in another bedroom in the northeast rear portion of the main block. The 2 remaining rectangular wood mantelpieces, one in the central rear bedroom and one in the southeast front bedroom, employ various combinations of panels and trim to support projecting mantel shelves.
The third floor of the main block is reached by a dogleg staircase in the northeast rear portion of the plan. The stairway features square balusters and newel post and a molded handrail. A c. 1960 straight run enclosed staircase is located in the central portion of the lengthwise hall. Like the plan of the second floor, the 5 bedrooms under the eaves are arranged along the eastwest running hall.
The interior of the 2 story west rear ell (#1a) is dominated on the first floor by the library. The oak finish of the room and the details of the staircase are similar to the same elements of the Great Hall and main staircase, thereby stylistically unifying the principal public rooms of the first floor plan. The open staircase leads to a landing at the base of the Palladian window, where it divides into 2 smaller flights which rise to each of the flanking bedrooms on the second floor. Portions of the walls in the stairwell retain original wallpaper with scenes from the works of Charles Dickens. Oak panelled built-in seats are recessed on each side of a projecting chimney breast on the north end of the room. The fireplace features a rectangular brick opening set in a round-headed brick relieving arch. The wooden mantelpiece features a molded panel centered above the opening and simple flanking pilasters with capitals incorporated into the narrow cornice mantel shelf. Oak bookcases and trim detail complete the articulation of this room. A small first floor room with a roundarched fireplace opens onto the enclosed 2 story porch on the west portion of the plan. A modern bathroom occupies the remaining small portion of the first floor plan.
The interior of the east rear service ell (#1b) features a modern kitchen abutting the butler's pantry on the south portion of the ell plan. The Palladian window facing the courtyard lights a straight run stairway to the second floor and a small pantry in the center portion of the plan. A former entrance hall opening onto the Queen Anne style porch is utilized as an office. The north end of the first floor plan has a modern bath and a storage area with a modern partition dividing what was originally a large laundry room. The second floor of the east ell has 5 small bedrooms and a bathroom.
The original carriage barn (#2) of c. 1903 with a c. 1920 rear apartment ell is located closer to the road on lower terrain than the mansion (which is situated on the crest of a hill.) The barn is a 2 story, post and beam framed structure that has a hip roof with cupola, clapboard siding, and a stone and concrete foundation. Sash is generally 6/6 with plain trim. Plain cornerboards articulate the facade and the eaves feature exposed rafter tails. A 2 story, hip roofed rear ell is incorporated into the structure and has a ridge chimney.
The interior main floor plan of the carriage barn is dominated by a central "drive-through" featuring horizontal board paneling. Originally it led to a 1 story, hip roofed rear ell which served as a carriage wash area and which is present as ruins. The west portion of the main floor plan has 6 original stalls each having hay chutes with iron grill hay dispensers. The upper floor of the carriage barn is an open hay loft. The ground level of the western portion of the barn at one time housed various other animals. The apartment portion of the carriage barn has a living room and dining room in the original portion of the first floor plan, with a pantry and kitchen in the c.1920 ell. The second floor contains 4 bedrooms.
The c. 1930, 1 story, shed roofed milkhouse (#3) is 1x1 bay with a concrete foundation, clapboard siding and evidence of a water supply. It is in ruins and is included as a noncontributing structure.
A c. 1920 stone foundation for a round silo (#4) measures about 6' in diameter and marks the location of a former 1 story cowbarn with ell. It is included as a noncontributing structure.
The former location of a turkey house (#5) is marked by a concrete floor and low foundation wall measuring approximately 5' x 6'. It is included as a non-contributing structure.
An icehouse was built into the hill next to the drive to the carriage barn. This approximately 10' x 10' excavation (#6) is marked by a stone foundation on 3 sides. It is included as a non-contributing structure.
Another chicken/turkey house was at one time built on a 10' x 10' concrete slab with low walls and a water outlet (#7). It is included as a non-contributing structure.
A 1 story, gable roofed pumphouse of c. 1903 has clapboard siding. It is in very poor condition, measures approximately 8' x 10' and is included as a non-contributing structure. (#8)
Although the outbuildings described above (#s 3-8) are included in the nomination as non-contributing structures because they do not retain structural integrity, they are evocative of a sense of time and place and should be considered in treatment plans for the property. While they add dimension to our understanding of this specific property, further investigation in the future may indicate that they can enhance our understanding of similar properties elsewhere as well.
The mansion at Juniper Hill Farm/Inn in Windsor, Vermont is significant as a well-preserved example of the Colonial Revival style characteristic of the turn of the 20th century. It is especially noteworthy in the context of the predominant 18th and 19th century farm, commercial and industrial architecture of nearby Windsor village, indicating the presence during this period of time of a number of well-educated, nationally known, wealthy individuals in this area of the Connecticut River Valley. It was built in 1902 by Maxwell Evarts, a prominent New York city attorney and General Counsel to the E.H. Harriman Railroad. The Colonial Revival articulation of the Ionic portico and former colonnaded trellis were inspired by the c. 1889 addition by George F. Babb to the house at St. Gaudens Historic Site in nearby Cornish, N.H. The preservation of the original grand setting of the estate on Paradise Heights as well as the carriage barn and remains of other agricultural outbuildings is fortuitous in the light of nearby development.
Nearby Windsor village began development at the end of the 18th century and achieved importance in Vermont history as the location of the framing of the constitution of Vermont. The village prospered due to its excellent location for industry on the banks of the Connecticut River at the point where several smaller streams run into it. Commerce developed further in the mid-19th century when Windsor became the first town in the state to break ground for the railroad and the town was connected to out of state markets. It was after the railroad went through that a number of prominent individuals from New York and elsewhere began to discover the beauty of Windsor and the Cornish, N.H. area. Cornish, N.H., connected with Windsor by a bridge, had become known as an artist's colony by the turn of the 20th century, with such artists as Augustus St. Gaudens and architect Charles Platt having homes there. Winston Churchill and President Wilson also maintained residences in Cornish.
The Evarts family became well known in local, state and world affairs and maintained social ties with the various personages in Cornish, N.H. William Evarts, father of the builder of Juniper Hill, began his illustrious law career at the law offices of Horace Everett at Windsor in 1837. He later became Attorney General under President Johnson and was Secretary of State under President Hayes. He also had his own New York City law practice of Evarts, Southmoyd and Choate, commuting weekends to Windsor, where he raised his 12 children. William Evarts purchased a large amount of village and nearby outlying real estate, owning several houses near the former location of the Baptist Church near the center of the village and a large farm northwest of the village. He converted a portion of his property into Paradise Park and the nearby Pulk Hole Brook and marsh into Runnemede Lake.
When William Evarts died in 1901, a portion of his property on Paradise Heights near the Park was acquired by his son, Maxwell Evarts. Maxwell built the house at Juniper Hill Farm during the summer of 1902 on the 300 acres of land, utilizing the services of Harvey Ayers, locally known as a barn builder.(1) The Colonial Revival style mansion is said to have been designed by Evarts himself, although the Ionic colonnaded trellis was clearly inspired by the c. 1889 work of George F. Babb on an almost identical addition to the home of Augustus St. Gaudens in Cornish, N.H.(2) St. Gaudens had executed a bust of William Evarts and the social ties between the families were well established.
The mansion was situated at the crest of a hill, with a long landscaped winding drive leading through the present portico in the front of the house. This has since been altered, as the parking lot is behind the residence and the front has been terraced into various levels. The carriage barn and various agricultural outbuildings were located on a lower level of the property that was secluded from the mansion so as not to detract from its grandeur as a country estate, The interior of the house exhibits a number of outstanding fireplace mantelpieces, the origin of which cannot be precisely determined. A living relation of the Evarts family claims that the mantelpieces came from an old house in nearby Hartland, Vermont.(3) Local tradition asserts that they were collected on Maxwell Evarts travels on the railroad.(4) Several, however, appear decidedly Colonial Revival, suggesting that at least some of them were crafted for the house c. 1902. An original oak table measuring 15'x5' remains in the mansion, where it is said to have been assembled as the house was built.
Juniper Hill Farm was the personal home of Maxwell Evarts and his family until Evarts' death in 1913. During this period of time, a number of important persons, including Presidents Roosevelt and Wilson, were entertained on the estate due to Evarts involvements as a New York City attorney with E.H. Harriman and with what later became the Union Pacific Railroad. Maxwell Evarts considered Vermont as his home and made many contributions, both on the local and state level. He purchased nearby real estate which included a sawmill and a lime kiln complex, as well as building 3 large double tenements in 1907 on North Main Street in Windsor.(5) He served as the president of 2 Windsor banks and was the chief backer of the Gridley Automatic Lathe manufactured by the Windsor Machine Co.(6) He raised Morgan horses on his farm and was instrumental in renewing interest in their breeding.(7) He served as a representative to the Vermont state legislature and was involved in the Vermont State Fair Commission.(8)
After Maxwell's death, the farm was run by and the mansion used as the primary residence for his son, Jeremiah Evarts, and his family. Jeremiah was a candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1936. Juniper Hill Farm was sold in 1944 by Evarts' ex-wife, Catherine, after an unfortunate divorce. It was purchased by Catherine Cushman, an original investor of the Ascutney Slopes Co., which developed the ski area at nearby Mt. Ascutney in 1946. Cushman ran Juniper Hill as an inn and restaurant. The area now used as the parking lot behind the mansion was developed as a tennis court during her ownership. The estate became a residential hotel nursing home for a brief period in the 1950's when it was owned by Curtis Beaton. In 1961 it was purchased by the Catholic Xaverian Brothers of Boston, operated as the Ryken Center and used for retreats and religious encounters. The Brothers owned the property for 20 years, during which period over 10,000 people utilized the services provided at the Center.(9) A second floor bedroom in the northwest corner maintains a collection of books on theology and Catholic teachings established during this period of occupancy. Unfortunately, it was also during this period that various Evarts records relative to the estate were burned during a clean-up of the attic.(10) In 1980, the property was sold to the MAG Corp., but it continued being used as a retreat center known as the "Holy Family Retreat House" The present owners purchased the property in 1984 and currently operate the facility as Juniper Hill Inn.
Today, Juniper Hill Farm/Inn and the remains of its various outbuildings stand as indicators of an optimistic age of relative opulence in this area of the Connecticut River Valley. The major structures, the mansion and carriage barn, remain intact and in use, continuing to display the integrity of architecture and setting of their original period of significance at the turn of the 20th century. The current owners are remodelling and rehabilitating the property in a sensitive manner in order to preserve the estate for the edification of future generations.
Beers, F.W., Atlas of Windsor County, Vermont, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1969, original 1869.
Child, Hamilton, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windsor County, VT, 1883-84, Syracuse, NY: The Journal Office, 1884.
Notes compiled from the Vermont Journal, by Krisha Pennino, 1985.
Notes compiled by James and Krisha Pennino, 1985, United States Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, St. Gaudens Memorial, compiled by Charles E. Shed,Jr., 4/19/62.
DATE ENTERED: July 14, 1988.
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