Theron Boyd Homestead
National Register Nomination Information:
The Theron Boyd Homestead, located on a slope overlooking the Ottauquechee River one mile west of Quechee village in the town of Hartford, stands today much as it existed over two hundred years ago. The centerpiece of the farm complex is an unusually well-preserved two story Georgian plan house built in the transitional Georgian-Federal style in 1786 with an early 1800s brick ell. Alterations have been extraordinarily few, with no modern improvements. The property also includes a five bay early barn, dating from the late 1700s, a c.1945 sugarhouse, the foundations of a mid 19th century corn crib, and a chicken coop that was moved to the farm during the 1920s. In 1991 and 1992 conservation measures were taken to stabilize some portions of the buildings. 'The homestead, 30.16 acres in size since 1871, is a combination of forest and pasture, today bisected by Hillside Road from east to west and by River Road from north to south. It retains its integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
1. House, 1786.
Cornerboards with beaded Federal style moldings define the edges of the house. With few exceptions, windows are the original 12/12 double hung sash and have many 18th century panes intact. Window surrounds are plain. A cornice with two rows of dentils runs under the hipped roof, which is covered with red cedar shakes put on in 1991 to replace the asphalt shingle roofing. A large central rectangular brick chimney, repaired in 1991, rises through the roof ridge.
The symmetrical front (south) facade is divided into five bays, with the first and second and fourth and fifth bay windows being closely spaced together. The central element of this facade is an elaborate, raised-paneled, double-leaf entry door with a six pane glass transom and a Doric pilastered surround. In 1992 the door and surround were repaired and conserved, preserving the vast majority of the original materials. Sometime around the turn of this century a Colonial Revival entry porch was added to shelter the front door, and the clapboards flanking the door were changed. It was remodelled at least twice, and no longer exists.
The side walls are not as symmetrically arranged as the front wall, as windows were placed to accommodate the uses of the rooms within. The west wall is divided into three bays (window, door, window) with the pantry window offset below the northwest chamber window. The pantry sash, replaced in 1936, is 6/6 with Greek Revival period muntins. The door at the ground level is a single-leaf, raised panel door with a beaded, trabeated surround, and a five pane glass transom.
The east wall also is three bays, with the windows in the second and third bays closer together than the first and second bay windows. The cellar entrance is located beneath the left bay, first floor window. The stonework for the cellar was stabilized in 1992. An original 8" x 8" beech sill is visible, extending over the cellar opening.
The visible portion of the north (rear) wall has two asymmetrical bays. Two original windows are located on the second floor. The first floor has in the middle of the wall a raised panel door with a five pane glass transom and to the right two side by side 6/6 Greek Revival period sash installed in 1936. One of these window openings is original, while the other is an addition. The brick ell joins the house at a right angle just beyond the windows The cornice on the rear wall has no dentils.
The north roof slope has a shed-roofed dormer, a very early alteration that probably was made for ventilation and light. The dormer was formed by lifting some of the rafters from their pocket in the purlin and raising the rafters about a foot. The side walls for the dormers were made out of one plank of wood. The framing and window at the front of the dormer likely were destroyed in the 1936 fire in the ell
This damage was covered with tar paper, and in 1991 the framing was properly restored.
The cellar is roughly divided into four sections. A brick lined storage room in the southwest portion is two feet below the rest of the cellar and has wooden shelving brackets inserted at regular intervals along the brick walls. The chimney base is barrel-vaulted, and the arched space was used for a storage area. A dirt-floored area south of and adjoining the chimney base was set aside for root storage. The rest of the space, to the north and southwest, is undivided. An arched brick entrance to a crawlspace beneath the ell is located in the north wall. A stairway to the kitchen opens from the west wall. Perfected-head nails fasten the stairs and stringers in place on a mortise and tenon frame, indicating that these original elements have mid 19th century alterations. In the cellar is a very large cast iron kettle, probably from the early 1800s.
Most walls in the house are plastered and covered by multiple layers of patterned wallpapers from the early 19th through the early 20th centuries. Other notable decorative elements are early moldings, raised field paneling, and wide beaded board paneling. The 18th century raised panel doors in the east part of the house have many original hardware components.
The interior of the house was not entirely completed during the initial construction in 1786. The kitchen, adjoining bedroom and storage room, pantry, east parlor, the front hallway, and east side of the second floor were finished in 1786. Distinctive nail types from original and later construction provide evidence that the interior was finished during the first quarter of the 19th century.
The east front parlor is entered from the entry hall and also from the kitchen. Most features are from the 1786 period of construction. Fir flooring is fastened with wrought nails. Walls are plastered except for wainscoting and a raised panel fireplace wall on the west side of the room, which are beautiful examples of late 18th century woodwork. The fireplace was closed off in the early 19th century to suit a five-plate Stafford (Connecticut) cast iron stove still in place. The stove says "Stafford Furnace" and is ornamented with raised Federal style swags and urns. To the left of the fireplace is a closet, which appears to have been remodeled or finished at a later time. A six-paneled door to the entry hall with HL hinges is from another location, as seen from hinge and latch cut-outs, and replaces the original four panel door like the door in the north wall to the kitchen.
The west front parlor is also accessed from the entry hall and kitchen, and probably was completed in the first decade of the 19th century as the door and window casings have thin Federal period moldings. The flooring is pine fixed with wrought T-headed nails. Walls are plastered and originally were painted a salmon color. The walls are covered by fragments of a bordered wallpaper, which, along with ingrained strip carpeting, date from a turn of the 20th century redecoration of this room. Window apron ends have been cut roughly, and plaster marks indicate that this room originally had a continuous chair rail. When the rail was removed, it appears that the room was papered. A fireplace on the east wall was replaced by a large stuccoed alcove with an off center stove flue. A Federal period parlor stove with offset legs used in this area is temporarily in storage. Baseboards to each side of the alcove are plain and differ from those found along three other walls.
The kitchen, located in the north (rear) central portion of the first floor, is extraordinary for its state of preservation. A lone cast iron sink in this room is the only modern convenience in a house never otherwise altered for electricity or plumbing. The focus of this room, a prominent cooking fireplace with a bake oven with a removable tin door, has a simple surround, a later applied shelf, and is framed by raised wall paneling. It was closed off in the late 19th century to house a wood stove. A mica schist hearthstone is set out at the level of a 19th century fir subfloor, which is nailed with perfected-head nails. A space between the hearthstone and the hearth has been filled with sand into which stringers have been set to support and provide attachment for a 20th century tongue and groove oak floor toe-fastened in place with wire nails. A cupboard to the right of the hearth was added early in the 19th century, as evidenced by paneling with light Federal period beading that contrasts with the 1786 paneling with a heavier Georgian era bead that forms the back wall and east side of the cupboard. The original varnish for the kitchen is still visible inside.
The original vertical beaded-board paneling on the south and west walls of the kitchen is in place. The east wall was moved inward, probably in the early 1800s, with the original wall paneling being installed horizontally. Patched plaster, above the north doorway to the summer kitchen, indicates that it was originally a window that was altered to permit entry to the brick ell.
A pantry and secondary stairhall are located off the kitchen to the west. One early intact layer of paint in the pantry gives evidence that this room has never been altered or renovated. Shelf cleats, horizontal wallboards, and cupboards held in place by wrought nails also indicate that the pantry is in original condition. The pantry has open shelves running along the south wall and on the north wall cupboards below the counter and open shelves above. The ends of the shelves on the south wall toward the window are intricately scalloped. The second floor stairway however had originally opened off the kitchen and was reversed to open off a side wall in the early 19th century. This side wall has vertical board paneling with one layer of stain.
The northeast room was originally two small rooms, with a shared dividing wall running east/west and each room having a door opening into the kitchen. The ceiling and flooring have patches and stud pockets showing where the walls were. The flooring runs north/south where these two rooms were located. In what was the northeast room, the north and east walls are infilled with brick nogging. The window, located in the east wall, has a plain surround and an Indian shutter with two raised panels that slides into a pocket in the wall. The flooring around where the threshold was for the door to this room is severely worn, indicating very heavy traffic into this room. What was the eastern room has detailed Federal profile casings around the door and windows and a chair rail on the south and east walls. The door has a lever latch. At some point the dividing wall between the two rooms and the interior walls facing the kitchen were taken down. The vertical paneling that made up these walls was re-erected, horizontally, further into the kitchen to form a new wall. The floor in the new section of the room runs east/west and is part of the original kitchen floor
It would appear that the floor dates to the early 1800s. The doors to the front hall and the central north chamber have original HL hinges. The latch on the hall door is replaced, but that on the north central door is an original lever latch. In the rear northeast chamber, fragments of an early 1800s wallpaper remain.
A single chamber extending the depth of the east side of the house was divided into an east and northeast chamber probably in the early 1800s, at the time the western section of the interior was completed In both rooms tongue and groove fir flooring is toe-nailed in place with plancher nails and walls have horizontal wainscoting and a cornice fastened with wrought nails. In the front east chamber where a closet and fireplace remain, the fireplace surround has been partially removed and the fireplace was blocked up so a stove flue could be inserted. An investigation of the closet door casing revealed three incised signatures under the paint. One reads "C. Udall."
The southwest front chamber, probably finished in the early 1800s, has window trim, paneled doors, and a fireplace mantel with refined Federal style features. Spare double moldings of the surrounds are typical of high quality woodwork of the period. Chipwork at the base of the mantel is a vernacular interpretation of a Federal arch motif A remarkable green and blue brocade block-printed wallpaper with matching border is original. Flooring is butt-edged pine planking fastened with T-headed wrought nails. In a closet on the east wall, panels are vertical beaded tongue and groove pine and appear to be reused, as there are several holes for wrought fastening nails that do not correspond to the scantling behind. Doors serving the room are set on early butt hinges with handmade screws.
A narrow stairhall opens onto the west stairway The stair was re-oriented as evidenced by the presence of rough stringers, finish treads and risers that have open nail holes indicating a previous nailing pattern, and the location of the north wall of the stairwell that partially blocks a window. A mix of wrought and perfected-head nails have been used in this area. Flooring here is butt-joined pine planking that runs beneath the walls from the stairhall into the north and northwest chambers. The plaster walls are painted, and the trim is simple with one coat of paint. South of the stairhall, the doorway leading to the southwest bedroom was blocked at one time by a closet.
The northwest (rear) chamber opens off the northwest end of the hall and is notable for its early 19th century wallpaper, which is basically intact. The beaded baseboard here is a simplified version of that found in the west parlor and northeast room.
A central rear chamber directly above the kitchen is accessed through the east chambers and west hallway. Floors are pine, and walls are covered with several layers of wallpaper, the latest being an early 20th century floral print. A serpentine ceiling paper in this room is the only such treatment in the house. Simplified trabeated door and window surrounds and baseboards in this room have beaded inside edges. Other trim is very spare and all is fixed with perfected-head nails. This room has a small closet with horizontal back panels fixed with wrought nails. Side panels, beaded and hung vertically, are fixed with perfected head nails, indicating mid 19th century placement. This room provides access-to the west section of the second floor and to the attic.
Flooring on the east side of the attic is fastened with perfected-head cut nails and boards on the west with wrought nails. Boards on the north side appear to be recycled, possibly from the east chambers as they are well-worn on the face.
The east (front) wall of the ell has regular fenestration. At the southern end, the first two bays are two stories tall and on the first floor have a pair of reused 12/12 windows (with a 6/6 window serving as a storm over the first floor right window). The second floor has one 6/6 window in the second bay. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth bays are large elliptical arches, which serve as exterior entrances to the undivided storage space within. The central and northernmost arches are open, while the southernmost is fitted with a door. A raised doorway over a granite sill marks the seventh (northernmost) bay.
On the north (end) wall is a 6/6 window located off center at the east corner. A small sump (or drain outlet) has been built into the brick at the left of the window opening. The gable is fitted with one fixed two light sash located centrally and set above a truncated internal fireplace flue (this was originally a double hung sash opening, but as a result of the fire and the lower roof line, it is now only a single sash opening).
The west wall is irregularly divided. The first two southerly bays on the second floor are similar to their counterparts on the east wall, except that each has a pair of 6/6 sash (replacements as a result of the fire). A door with early strap hinges in a rat tail pattern is below the window in the second bay. A large opening is at the northerly end of this west facade and provides entry to the small cellar. Above this is a window opening for the northernmost room of the ell. A shed-roofed, wood frame privy or outhouse was added after the fire. The doorway to the privy was originally a window, as can be seen from the rough cut bricks.
In the summer kitchen, walls and ceilings are covered with panels of beaverboard to conceal fire damage. Flooring is tongue and groove oak. The fireplace has been closed off, but underneath is a brick hearth with tongue and groove spruce sheathing set from floor to ceiling in front of a chimney mass. A fireplace and bake oven built into the chimney mass are complete with a wrought iron cooking crane and a scrolled tin oven door, both intact and in place. In the middle is a large undivided storage area, which was originally used for carriages, farm equipment, or for wood storage. A framed, two-hole privy is accessed from within the storage area. A raised walkway was built along the west wall of the storage area to serve the outhouse. Several tall stone steps lead up to a doorway for a finished room over a deep cellar at the northern end of the ell. Interior details were destroyed by the fire, but window openings in the north and west walls remain. Door reveals, window casings and cuts made in the east window casings show evidence of a table built into the reveal, with perfected head nails. A fireplace is located west of the north window It has a coved chimney breast with hooks for a cooking crane.
Above the summer kitchen is a room with plain detailing and plaster applied directly to the underlying brick wall. Damage done to the plaster on the ceiling and north wall during the fire resulted in the plaster being covered by beaverboard. A door on the north end leads to the now unfinished space above the carriage bays and a stairway down. Paint markings on the floor of this area indicate room divisions before the fire.
2. Barn, c.1786
A 40' x 60" early post and beam, gable-roofed barn, dating from the last quarter of the 18th century, is located across Hillside Road about fifty yards to the east of the house. It rests on a low fieldstone foundation. Sills, hewn tapered posts and purlin posts, and reciprocally sawn connectors are all beech. Hewn cambered ties, plates, end ties, rafters, purlins and purlin plates are pine. Reciprocally sawn studs and braces are red oak. Original pine sheathing boards on the west end are fastened with wrought nails. Late 19th century replacement siding on the north and south sides is held in place by perfected-head nails.
The exterior was conserved and stabilized in 1991. Some replacement of materials decayed beyond salvaging was required. A portion of the exterior has been reclad with vertical board-siding and the entire structure was reroofed with red cedar shingles in 1991. Details were replicated as closely as possible, using methods and materials similar to the original ones.
The interior is divided into five bays by heavy hewn timbers that were raised in six bents. The barn is two bays wider than most barns of this time period. Each bent consists of two outside posts, a tie beam and a queen post truss above. The first two bays contain the remainder of a hay mow above and horse stalls and cow stanchions below The center bay has 12' openings on both the north and south sides. The fourth and fifth bays contain a large, open, dirt-floored area with a three-foot traverse wall on the east side and a room with a loose board ceiling The building is unpartitioned above the ground level.
3. Corn Crib, c.1850
Large stones marking the foundation of a 19th century corn crib lie immediately to the east of the barn. It was in a very advanced state of disrepair and was dismantled in 1992. Its restoration is planned in the near future.
4. Chicken Coop, c.1920
To the west of the barn is a frame chicken coop, moved to the property in the 1920s. It is clapboarded and about 8' square with fieldstone foundations and an asphalt shingle gable roof.
5. Sugar House, c. 1945
The sugar house, perched on a ridge above Whitman Brook, is reached by crossing a field to the north of the house. This gable-roofed, eaves entry frame building was constructed by Theron Boyd c.1945 when the old sugarhouse burned. It was built over an unmortared fieldstone foundation and is of 2" x 4" frame construction with tapered log rafters and sheathing overhang. Some of the material is reused. Exterior and interior walls are horizontal boards butted and face-nailed excepting that the entry side is clapboarded. The 6/6 and 12/12 windows, recycled from the ell after the fire, are fixed in place and located in the south and east walls. A large open ventilator is located southerly off-center on the roof ridge and a tall round metal chimney topped with a shanty cap sits in the center of the western roof slope. The interior consists of two rooms; the southernmost contains a large evaporator, and an arch. The northern room contains a sap holding tank and a large area for wood storage. A large, dry-laid rubble stone ramp is built into the west wall for ease in bringing the sap to the holding tank
Repairs were made in 1991 to stabilize the sugarhouse and prevent ongoing deterioration. New asphalt shingles have been installed on the roof, a portion of the exterior siding has been replaced, and the evaporator has been repaired.
The Theron Boyd Farmstead is located on a 30.16 acre (+/-) combination of forest and open land that slopes gently upward from its eastern boundary at the Ottauquechee River to a level plateau at the western boundary. The property is divided by River Road, which crosses it from north to south and divides an arable field of about 8 acres from the rest of the property, and by Hillside Road, which joins River Road and bisects the farm in an east to west direction. Remnants of 18th century stone walls surround the farm and are visible between trees and bushes along the edges of the property and the roads. The barn, corn crib, and chicken coop are southeast of the house along Hillside Road. Pastures border the house, which is set back about 25 feet from the northern edge of Hillside Road. The house is flanked by lilac bushes that grow on either side of a walkway of 19th century brick pavers leading to the entrance. There are also hydrangeas, roses, day lilies, and flax. Sugar maples and occasional gnarled, bent apple trees remain from an orchard planted at the turn of the 20th century and dot pastures on the plateau around the house. To the west of the house is the opening (now covered) of a dug dry well that kept food cool in the summer. Depressions north of the brick ell indicate the foundations of another 18th century building now long gone.
Back almost 100' from the main house is the sugarhouse, which stands along the north edge of the pasture at the top of a steep bank that drops down to the sugarbush. The sugarbush is bisected by Whitman Brook, which joins the Ottauquechee River at the easterly boundary of the property. Wheelock Road forms the northerly boundary of the farmstead.
The Theron Boyd Homestead is one of the most architecturally outstanding late 18th century properties in the state of Vermont. The house, built in 1786 in the transitional Georgian-Federal style, is a remarkably well-preserved Georgian plan, hip-roofed, center chimney house with few alterations and no modern improvements. Its exceptional exterior architectural features include a central, double-leaf, paneled door framed by Doric pilasters and a six pane transom, a cornice with two rows of dentils, the original feathered clapboards and 12/12 windows, narrow cornerboards with applied molding. Outstanding interior features include the massive central chimney and fireplaces, Georgian and Federal period paneling and woodwork, two early 1800s cast iron stoves, early 1800s wallpaper, and well-preserved rooms. The barn, also built in the late 18th century, is noteworthy as a rare surviving farm structure from this time period and for its large size. The house was built for William Burtch, son of one of the first settlers of Hartford, and was owned for much of the 1800s by the Udall family. This property is significant historically as an excellent example of a very early farmstead developed by a prosperous businessman, and also is representative of statewide farming trends through the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Until the Civil War period farm production was diversified with a variety of crops, as was common throughout much of Vermont. After 1871, when the property reached its current size of about 30 acres, its owners engaged in subsistence farming. The c.1850 corn crib foundation, c.1920 chicken coop, c.1945 sugar house, and the landscape, including stone walls along boundaries, roads and fields, a sugar bush, open fields, and mature maples and elms, contribute to the understanding of this agricultural history. The Theron Boyd Homestead is being nominated to the National Register under the Multiple Property submission Agricultural Resources of Vermont, and meets the registration requirements for the farmstead property type
The house and barn on the Theron Boyd Homestead property are of outstanding architectural significance to the state of Vermont. The house was built in 1786 for William Burtch, who was a prosperous early businessman in the Hartford area. Hartford, located along the Connecticut River, was an important center of early commerce for the developing towns in Windsor County and across the river in New Hampshire. Burtch's house, when built, was probably one of the most stylish houses erected in the area just after the Revolutionary War. Today it is one of the best preserved houses from its time period in the state. It is clearly different from the large, two story, Georgian period houses built in the area before the Revolution, which had steeply pitched gable roofs with little or no overhang and often little exterior ornamentation. The house does have some Georgian period features, the most prominent being the paneled, double leaf, front door, but most of the rest of the features on Burtch's house are clearly Federal in style. The front door is framed by a transom and elegant pilasters that are from the early Federal style. The house also has a high hipped roof, a delicate cornice with two rows of dentils, cornerboards with applied molding, and the window sash and window spacing of the early Federal style.
The interior of the house is also of exceptional architectural significance. It retains its original central chimney stack and most of its original floor plan, the few changes to the plan having been made in the early 1800s. The house is quite rare for never having had any modern improvements installed, such as electricity, plumbing, or telephones. The main kitchen, adjoining bedroom and storage room, pantry, east parlor, front hallway, and east side of the second floor were finished in 1786, with the rest of the main block of the house being finished in the early 1800s. The plaster walls, paneling and other woodwork in all the rooms, and most of the floors remain intact. The paneling and woodwork is of outstanding quality. The house also has two very early cast iron stoves and two rooms with wallpaper from the early 1800s. It is very rare in Vermont for wallpaper and stoves from this time period to have survived in place and in such fine condition. The front staircase has excellent examples of marbleizing and glazed graining. The main kitchen has intact its original fireplace with the bake oven and an adjoining pantry in intact condition. In the brick ell there is a summer kitchen, also with an intact fireplace, bake oven, cooking crane, and tin oven door
The house has yielded and, upon more study, will yield further information about construction methods after the Revolutionary War, types of materials used in house construction, the level of skill of builders during the period, the introduction and evolution of architectural trends and styles during Vermont's early settlement period, and how people used their living spaces. The two intact kitchens, the pantry, the food storage areas in the cellar, and the dry well outside provide significant information on early food preparation and storage.
The c.1786 barn is a rare surviving agricultural building. Many barns from this time period in Vermont have disappeared over time or have been altered or added on to. This barn is instructive about early barn construction methods, skills required to build barns, use of building materials, early farming practices in Vermont, and how farmers used the space in their barns. This barn is especially outstanding because of its large size, being five bays wide and 40' x 60' in size rather than the three bay, 30' x 40' size more common to the time period.
The chicken coop and sugar house represent the subsistence period of the farm, and each building is a good example of its type.
The history of the complex reflects the development of a farm in the Upper Connecticut River Valley from the period of settlement immediately following the Revolutionary War. The Town of Hartford was chartered in 1761 and permanent settlement began in 1764. The first settlers of this property were Benjamin Burtch, who was a carpenter, and his family. Burtch, born in Stonington, Connecticut, in 1731 and married to Anna Udall, moved to Hartford in 1765. Within the next three years he had bought part of the 500 acres that would become the Burtch farm and brought his family to live in a log cabin he built on the property. It is believed that within a short time he may have built his more permanent dwelling, a large frame house that also served as a tavern (since burned).
In 1786, according to Woodstock town historian Henry Swann Dana, Burtch's son William "built the present Udall house, using the cellar of this house for the storage of liquors and some West India goods, for want of room elsewhere." William built his house and barn next to his father's house and tavern. He had a thriving wholesale and retail trade, as well as several potasheries, a pottery, and a brickyard, and made a specialty of the preparation of a ginseng root tonic. William's house may have been similar to the one his brother Benjamin built in 1777 in Woodstock (no longer standing) It is possible that their father Benjamin may have been involved in the design and construction of these two houses
The 1791 census records that there were eleven people in William's household. Some or most of the six males over the age of 16 may have been his employees. The 1800 census shows 22 people in the household, with thirteen men between the ages of 16 and 26. It is not known how Burtch housed 22 people, as it appears the main block of the house, although large, would not comfortably hold this many people. Perhaps the brick ell had been built by this time. There is evidence on the floor of the second story of the burned out section of the ell of room divisions. It has been suggested that the ell was built in the first quarter of the 19th century. The elliptical arches are features found in the Federal style. Further research and analysis of other early brick buildings in the area is needed to come to a better understanding of the ell and to see if it is possible that it could have been built by 1800 or if it is later.
In the late 1700s the Burtch family began suffering business reversals, and in 1793 Benjamin Burtch mortgaged 303 acres (which included the land the tavern and William's house stood on) to Samuel Udall, his neighbor. William mortgaged the rest of the property in 1802, and in December 1805 sold the whole farm to Udall for $8,300. William Burtch continued in local business until about 1808 when he moved to Cincinnati and then Indiana with his family. While traveling down the Wabash River, they were struck by the fever and everyone in the family but two of the children died.
Throughout most of the 19th century, from 1805 to 1898, the farm was owned by James Udall and his children. Samuel Udall died on December 11, 1805. In his will, made the day before his death, he left the Burtch farm to his 26 year old son James. The use of one quarter of "the premises" was to go to Samuel's widow during her lifetime. Samuel's home farm was to be sold to settle the expenses of his estate. James Udall married Sophia Downer Champlin in September 1809; they had ten children between 1810 and 1833. Perhaps about the time of his marriage or soon thereafter Udall may have finished off the rest of the interior of the house If the brick ell wasn't built by Burtch, perhaps Udall was responsible for its construction sometime in the first quarter of the 19th century. If so, Udall may have built the ell to house his many children, as well as others who lived in the household. It is possible that the bricks were made at the brickyard in the northeastern section of the property The brickyard had been run by William Burtch, without much financial success, and is known to have been operated by James Udall as early as 1812.
James Udall was well known in Hartford and held many offices over the years--lister, auditor, tax collector, selectman, town representative, and judge of the Hartford District Probate Court. He was a founder of the local Masonic Lodge, was a teacher for several years at district schools in Hartford in 1819-21, and at some point took in several boarding students. James farmed his property, a grandson recounting that he was a breeder of Merino sheep, Durham cattle, and Morgan horses. These breeds were among the first that Vermont farmers introduced to improve the general stock of farm animals in the state. Census records show that there were usually farm laborers living in the household.
James Udall took out a series of mortgages, using the farm collateral, starting in 1826. It is thought the mortgages were used for farm improvements, and were quickly repaid. Among the mortgages and notes were some from William Jarvis of Weathersfield, in 1834, 1844, and 1846. Jarvis was a significant early importer to Vermont of Spanish Merino sheep. In 1845 Udall sold off two parcels, a 100 acre lot and a 150 acre lot, and in 1847 leased the "brickyard farm" parcel for a year. In 1854 he transferred to his daughter, Sophia, most of the livestock he had housed in his neighbor's barn next door, including three horses, two cows, two heifers, three calves, and one pig. It is speculated that he sold off the land and transferred the stock because of financial difficulties, but it should be noted that Udall was also getting on in years, being 66 years old in 1845.
What was left of the property continued to be farmed. The 1860 census shows that in the household, James (age 82) was listed as a farmer, two sons were farm laborers, and there were three hired farm laborers as well. The agricultural census for that year shows the farm had 140 improved acres and 60 unimproved acres, and was valued at $10,000 Livestock, valued at $1,000, included three milk cows, two horses, two working oxen, two other cattle, 136 sheep, and one swine. Farm products were 100 bushels of Indian corn, 15 bushels of wheat, 10 bushels of beans and peas, 250 pounds butter, 60 tons of hay, and 400 pounds of maple syrup. This record and the list of stock transferred to Sophia in 1854 show that farming was quite diverse on the property, as was common on Vermont farms during the period.
In 1862 James Udall sold the property to his youngest son, Henry Douglass Udall, for $6,000. Henry married Laura Keyes in February 1865, and brought his wife to live in his family home. They had two children. James Udall died in 1867 at the age of 88, and his widow died in 1879 at age 86 or 87. Henry continued to farm the property but had financial difficulties, and in order to pay off a large mortgage due in April 1871, he sold over 100 acres of the farm. In November he and his wife sold for $2,500 the rest of the farm (the current parcel) to his sister, Sophia (a widow) and to the husband of Udall's sister Lydia, Henry Kirke Brown. Brown, of Newburgh, New York, was a noted mid-19th century American sculptor with studios in New York City. Some of his major works were a bust of William Cullen Bryant, and equestrian statues of George Washington in Union Square Park, New York, and generals Nathanael Greene and Winfield Scott in Washington, D.C.
It appears that after the sale, Henry Udall and his family moved away. The 1880 census shows Sophia Udall as head of the household. Others living with her were her sister Elizabeth and brother Edward, and a farmer with his wife and two children. By this time the farm was only valued at $2,500, with one horse, two oxen, two milch cows, one calf, one swine, ten sheep, and twenty poultry. Farm products were 200 dozen eggs, ten tons of hay, 50 bushels of Indian corn, 40 bushels of wool, five cords of wood, 400 pounds of butter, and one acre of potatoes. It is possible that in the early 1890s the Udalls may have added the Colonial Revival style entry porch (it fell off in the 1980s) to the front of the house. Found in the house was a note dated December 29, 1891, from W. P. Morse, architect, contractor, and builder of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, to Miss E. C. Udall regarding plans for some unspecified work.
After the deaths of the owners of the property, Henry Kirke Brown in 1886 and Sophia Udall in 1893, their estates had to be settled. The farm was sold at auction in 1898 to Albert and Mary Cowdry, their daughter Florence, and William Boyd, who lived nearby on the farm of Albert's father, William Cowdry. Earning a living on the property was difficult, as there was not enough land for a profitable farming operation. Boyd and sometimes Cowdry worked for neighboring farms doing such jobs as haying, milking, plowing, filling silos, and chopping cordwood. They were able to make a few improvements to the property, such as adding new wallpapers in the house, and planting an orchard of over 50 plum and apple trees in the field north of the brick ell.
In 1902 Albert Cowdry died and Mary's brother, George Morgan, came to live with her. He had a shop at the north end of the ell. Florence and William Boyd had a son, Theron, in 1901. They separated, probably in 1903, with William Boyd passing on his interest in the property to Florence. Florence remarried and moved, leaving Theron to be raised by her mother. To support her family Mrs. Cowdry kept cows and chickens, may have taken in laundry, did baking, and worked at the Quechee Fells Farm, located nearby.
In the 1920s Theron Boyd moved two small buildings to a site near the barn for use as chicken coops and built a sugarhouse (it burned and Boyd built another c.1945). George Morgan died in the 1920s and Mrs. Cowdry died in 1932, leaving her share of the property to her daughter, Florence. Boyd continued to live here, keeping a few cows and a garden, working the sugarbush, and working part time at the Quechee Fells Farm. Over the years he had, at various times, others living in the house, some of them assisting him with housework or sugaring. On July 8, 1936, lightning struck the brick ell, burning most of the ell's second floor. A new roof was built over the first floor and a privy was added in the ell. Other than this new roof, Boyd made no changes or modern improvements, such as electricity, plumbing, or telephone service, to his house.
After the death of his mother c.1955, he, his half-brother, and step-father received equal shares in the property. His step-father left his share to the two brothers upon his death in 1971. In the 1970s the land around the Theron Boyd property in Quechee underwent extensive development. Theron Boyd resisted pressure to sell his property and because of this, his resistance to modern improvements, and his traditional farming methods, he became somewhat of a symbol of the "traditional independent Vermont farmer.² In 1979 Theron's half-brother sold his interest in the property to Armand Henault, Jr., with the provision that Theron have full use of the property until his death.
In 1981 Theron Boyd gave his half interest in the property to a friend with the understanding that she would care for him, but this plan failed and in 1986 court proceedings were filed to restore the property to him. As a result of the court settlement, this half interest in the property was transferred to the Ottauquechee Land Trust (later renamed the Vermont Land Trust), which would provide Boyd with life time care. The owners of his half-brother's half interest in the property also sold their share to the Land Trust. The intention was that the property would eventually he obtained by the State of Vermont, Division for Historic Preservation. In 1987 the Division for Historic Preservation contracted with the Centre for Environmental Interpretation, Manchester Polytechnic, in Manchester, England, to prepare an interpretative plan for the property, and with the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities to prepare a preservation feasibility study. All but eight acres of the property was sold in 1989 to the Division for Historic Preservation. Theron Boyd died on March 22, 1990, at a nursing home in Woodstock, Vermont. The Vermont Land Trust transferred the remaining eight acres to the Division for Historic Preservation that year.
Work to stabilize the buildings began in 1991. An archeological study was done along the west and south sides of the house, around all sides of the barn, and in selected grids within the barn. That year the sugarhouse was stabilized and repaired. The Division contracted with David Briggs, restoration mason, to do masonry repairs (relaying the barn foundation, pointing the house foundation, and repointing the two house chimneys and the brick work in the ell where necessary). The Division also contracted with Jan Lewendowski to undertake heavy timber repair and restoration, repairing the sills and a portion of the east plate of the house, and for the barn conserving or restoring the framing and siding as needed and putting on new roofing. In 1991 the Division's restoration specialist, Mark Shiff, began work on window conservation, and in the winter and spring of 1992 restored the frontispiece. Ray Clark of Lyme, New Hampshire, has been continuing window conservation and repair in late 1992 and 1993.
The plan is to continue work on conservation and restoration on the property as funding is available, and to eventually open the property as a state-owned historic site.
The Burtch-Udall-Boyd Farmstead is one of Vermont's rare and important Georgian period properties. It qualifies for statewide significance under National Register Criterion C for the distinctive architecture of its magnificent 1786 Georgian style main house and its late eighteenth-century English barn. Additionally, the complex qualifies under Criterion A for the contribution it has made to the history of agriculture in and around Hartford, Vermont, from 1770 to the mid-twentieth century.
Both the main house and the barn are unusual survivors from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-centuries and have many original features and materials intact. Begun in 1786, the house was not completed until the construction of a brick ell took place in 1836. It thus provides a rare document of early spatial priorities along with visible documentation of building techniques and materials used by Vermont's first English settlers and their descendants. The house has very minor twentieth-century alterations although a fire destroyed the majority of the second story of the ell in 1936. The barn was begun at the same time as the house and completed during the last quarter of the eighteenth-century. Much of its original framework and interior remain but sensitive stabilization has been necessary to reinforce the structure and preserve the exterior.
The stylistic roots of the main house may be traced to small detached houses inspired by the designs of Sir Christopher Wren and built by the English middle class beginning in the last quarter of the seventeenth-century. Now popularly called Georgian, these houses were two story rectangular blocks with symmetrical and unadorned windows. Central doorways and cornices were frequently the focus of robust classical detailing.
The Georgian style homes of the lower Connecticut River Valley utilized this classical detailing on the doorways and probably provided the inspiration for the ornamented double leaf entry door found on the Burtch-Udall-Boyd house. Such elaborately paneled and carved double leaf entry doorways, known now as "Connecticut Valley Doorways," were also used on New England meeting houses and public buildings and therefore carried an association with authority.(1) The Burtch and Udall families undoubtedly knew them on the houses and public buildings near Stonington, Connecticut before they migrated to Vermont.
Reflecting Georgian styling, the Burtch-Udall-Boyd House is typically cubical and restrained, with horizontality emphasized by its cornice and fenestration. Classical ornamentation, added in 1810, centers on the elaborate entry doorway and cornerboards. The front facade is bilaterally symmetrical but on secondary facades symmetry has been sacrificed for utility and fenestration reflects interior room arrangements. A side door placed off center on the west facade is one of several New England variations on the traditional Georgian placement of openings. On the interior, vigorous moldings and raised field paneling of the southeast parlor and kitchen date from the initial construction phase as do the wide beaded board paneling and raised panel doors in many parts of the house.
Georgian style dwellings in Vermont are extremely rare. Perhaps the best example in the state to which the Burtch-Udall-Boyd House may be compared is the French-Hard House in Manchester, built between 1771 and 1775 by Jeremiah French, a British loyalist who fled to Canada after the Revolutionary War. The houses are stylistically similar. Both utilize heavy post and beam framing systems that had become traditional in southern New England by the end of the eighteenth-century and center chimney plans that had been introduced to America at the turn of the eighteenth-century. Similar clapboarded exteriors are divided into five symmetrical bays in front with fenestration offset on secondary facades. Each house is capped by a hipped roof pierced by a central chimney. The French-Hard House, however, was substantially renovated and modernized during the late nineteenth and mid twentieth-centuries .
Since its completion in the mid-nineteenth century, alterations to the Burtch-Udall Boyd House have been very few and its significance lies in the preservation of a high percentage of material from its earliest construction phases. Few large Georgian houses were built in the Upper Connecticut River Valley in the 1780s and within that elite group, this structure is a rare and remarkably intact survivor.
The late eighteenth-century English barn is also a rare survivor. It is notable for being five bays wide rather than the standard three. Its gabled form is typical of Vermont's earliest barns with central entries on the eaves front and rear opening into a central wagon floor. Heavy hewn eighteenth-century timber framing components raised in six bents remain intact as does the original fieldstone foundation on which they rest. The building is typically clad with unpainted board and batten sheathing though some of this is replacement for original material decomposed beyond salvaging. The roof, also, is a replacement required because the original was too badly weathered to protect the eighteenth-century framing, wooden stanchions, haychute and feeder inside. Once a common sight on the Vermont landscape, very few such barns remain today. Most have collapsed or were radically altered or replaced with larger structures beginning in the second half of the nineteenth-century.
The Burtch-Udall-Boyd Farmstead has figured prominently in the agricultural development of Vermont's Upper Connecticut River Valley and qualifies for inclusion on the National Register under Criterion A. The property and its buildings are recognized as regionally important for their contributions in relation to two historic agricultural contexts listed in the Agricultural MPDF. These are Diversified and Specialty Farming and Sheep Farming. Diversified and specialty farming has been practiced on the farm from 1770 to the mid-twentieth-century while sheep farming was practiced during a briefer period from 1826 to 1860. The 1786 Georgian house, with its 1836 ell and associated agricultural outbuildings; an 1876 English barn, a mid-twentieth century sugar house, and a late nineteenth century chicken coop all maintain their historic integrity. The historic landscape of the property also contributes to the significance of the farmstead with various buildings separated by such features as stone-walled fields, cart roads and sugarbush.
The history of the complex reflects the development of a farm in the Upper Connecticut River Valley from the period of settlement immediately following the Revolutionary War. When Benjamin Burtch and his family settled in the Hartford, Vermont area and acquired the acreage, which included the present farmstead in 1770, diversified and specialty farming provided most of the family's needs while surplus goods and specialty products were bartered or sold locally for other necessities. Their farm was divided into specialized activity areas which derived from English traditions of locating various farming operations in separate areas and structures. On the growing farm in 1770 were: a large frame house used as a residence and a tavern, a woodlot, a brickyard, a pottery, a potash works, fields for livestock, and gardens. In his The History of Woodstock Vermont: 1761-1886 Historian Henry Swann Dana relates that "In the year 1786, Benjamin Burtch's son, William built the present Udall house, using the cellar of this house for the storage of liquors and some West India goods, for want of room elsewhere."(2) William located his house and barn next to his father's enterprises and made a specialty of the preparation of a ginseng root tonic.(3) Thus the Burtch-Udall-Boyd Farmstead was involved in diversified and specialty farming early by producing crops and livestock that served family and community needs and its influence was extended in the region through processing a ginseng tonic for sale or trade.
When the Burtch family suffered financial hardships, the farm, then some 500+ acres in size, was sold to Samuel Udall in 1805. Samuel added the farm to other holdings and on his death, three months after acquiring the farm, bequeathed it to his son, James.(4) An inventory taken of Samuel's estate in 1806 provided evidence of continued diversified farming through a short list of farm animals and produce. Mentioned are eight cows, 300 pounds of cheese, 35 tons of hay, 60 bushels of corn, 72 bushels of wheat, 8 bushels of flax seed, and 31 barrels of cider.(5)
Throughout most of the nineteenth century (1805-1898), the farm was owned by James Udall and his children. James completed the western portion of the interior of the house and added the few Federal period features to the exterior in 1810. He became a prominent member of the Hartford community and served at different times as lister, auditor, tax collector, selectmen, town representative, and judge of the Hartford District Probate Court.(6) A grandson recounts that James was a breeder of Merino sheep, Durham cattle and Morgan horses. These sheep, cattle, and horses were among the most common purebred livestock raised on Vermont farms in the early to mid-nineteenth century but this informant gave no indication of the number of animals in James' possession at any time.(7) Land use information obtained from the Hartford Land Records gives a composite picture of the farmstead during James' ownership in the early 1800s. Two records indicate that the property then contained between five and six hundred acres and was divided into pastures, fields, gardens, and woodlots.(8)
Beginning in 1826, James took out a series of mortgages on the farm.(9) Perhaps the most revealing of these transactions are the notes and mortgages to William Jarvis,(10) of Wethersfield, Vermont an important importer and promoter of Merino Sheep. Vermont's commercial wool growing era began when Jarvis brought a prized flock of Merino sheep, imported from Spain, to Vermont in 1811.(11) Beginning about that time, sheep farming developed from a largely subsistence operation into an industry that gave Vermont national prominence, first for the production of wool, and laterfor the breeding of superior sheep. Jarvis sold purebred Merinos from his farm some 25 miles south of Hartford and James Udall's prominence in the community made an early acquaintance with Jarvis likely. Sheep farming may have begun at the Burtch-Udall-Boyd farm in 1926 [sic] at the time the mortgage to Jarvis was signed.
Events at the farm appear to have mirrored the rise of the Merino sheep industry in Vermont. In 1836, profitable wool prices brought prosperity to the farm and James added the extensive brick ell north of the main house. However, no record is left to indicate what use, other than storage, James had intended that the ell serve.
James' success was short-lived, for by 1837 a depression lowered wool prices and in 1846, several tariffs protecting them from foreign competition were repealed. By 1854, the farm was heavily mortgaged and James, with no other hope of paying his debts, was required to sell half of the acreage he owned and lease a portion of the rest.(12) A farm inventory dating from 1854 may have been the result of James' economic reversals, for he transferred stock to his daughter Sophia, possibly as a means of forestalling creditors. The inventory included: "one chestnut colored mare about twelve years of age, one yearling colt of a brown color, and one last Spring colt, all of the value of two hundred dollars, two cows, one of a brindle color, and one spotted, red and white, of the value in all of forty-five dollars, two yearling heifers, one red and one yellow color of the value of twenty four dollars, and three last Spring calves of the value of fifteen dollars, one swine of the value of three dollars.(13) This stock was housed in a barn that remains standing immediately west of the house and had been sold before Sophia received her livestock.
A more comprehensive description of the stock and production of James Udall's farm is found in the Vermont agricultural census of 1860. The approximately 200 acres remaining in the farm had a cash value of $10,000. Of this acreage, 140 were improved and 60 unimproved. Livestock was valued at $1000 and included two horses, three milk cows, two working oxen, 136 sheep and one swine. The previous year the farm had produced 15 bushels of wheat, 100 bushels of Indian corn, 250 bushels of oats, 10 bushels of peas and beans, 250 bushels of Irish potatoes, 440 pounds of wool, 300 pounds of butter, 60 tons of hay and 400 pounds of maple sugar. Animals slaughtered were valued at $200.(14) Diversified and specialty agriculture thus continued to play an important role on the farm through good times and bad into the middle of the nineteenth-century though this inventory is the last to indicate that sheep farming was practiced there to any meaningful extent.
James deeded the farm to his youngest son, Henry Douglass Udall, in 1860, the same year the census was made. When a large mortgage came due in April 1871, Henry was required to sell another portion of the property to settle it. In November of the same year, Henry sold the house, the barn and the 35+ acres remaining to his widowed sister, Sophia and his brother-in-law, Henry Kirke Brown.(15)
An agricultural census of 1880 denotes the reduction in the size, value and productivity of the farm since 1860. Now the farm was valued at $2,500 and contained twelve tilled acres, ten acres of pasture and four acres of woodland. Livestock was valued at $205 and included one horse, two oxen, two cows, one calf, one swine and ten sheep. The sheep had yielded 40 pounds of wool. Twelve laying hens had produced two hundred dozen eggs. Eight mown acres had yielded ten tons of hay. One acre produced 50 bushels of Indian corn and another, potatoes valued at $100. Five cords of wood worth $20 had been cut and 400 pounds of butter had been churned.(16) The inventory shows that diversified and specialty agriculture was kept up on the farm but on a much smaller scale than previously.
Sophia Udall died in 1893 and the property was auctioned five years later to settle family estates. The farm was purchased by Albert and Mary Cowdray, their daughter Florence and their son-in-law William Boyd.(17) The new owners added a Colonial Revival style porch at the main entry of the house (now removed) and wallpapered most of the interior. They also planted an orchard containing over fifty apple and plum trees in a field north of the brick ell. An account book dated 1899-1903 describes William's work milking, chopping cordwood, plowing, thrashing, and filling a silo for several farmers. In the warm months of 1901 he worked full time on a nearby farm.(18) That year his wife, Florence, gave birth to Theron, their first and only child. A year later Albert Cowdray died and Mary's oldest brother George R. Morgan came to live with them.(19)
Interviews with Harold Eastman, a long-time neighbor, during the preparation of an historic structures report on the farmstead by SPNEA, indicate that the orchard produced about one hundred bushels of cider apples annually but that members of the family were in straightened circumstances and sought work in the community to make ends meet. Indeed the acreage was now too small to support anything more than subsistence gardening augmented by limited dairy produce and sugar production. After a family turmoil, Florence Boyd remarried and moved away. Theron shortly returned to live with his grandmother, Mary and his great uncle, George.(20)
Mary's account books continued to reflect a meager existence at the farm. They show that she baked and sold bread and pies and took in laundry in 1910-1911. A Tuberculin testing certificate from 1928 certifies six cows belonging to Mary as being free of disease. Other certificates from 1931 and 1934 indicate that cattle were still present on the farm and healthy but do not give additional information about them.
George died in the late 1920s and Mary in 1932, leaving Theron as the sole consistent occupant of the house, though friends and housekeepers lived with him for brief periods over the years. Theron worked at a neighboring farm, kept several cows and had a small garden.(21) He moved two recycled structures next to the barn for use as chicken coops sometime during the 1920s, thus repeating a consistent pattern of building usage in New England, that of saving buildings by moving and re-using them. He built a sugar house in the late 1920s, which required repair and reconstruction in 1947. The presence and importance of this building reflects a continuance of sugaring at the farm since the nineteenth-century.
While Theron occupied the farm for 54 years after his grandmother died, he made very few alterations to his important Georgian house excepting for repairs to the roof necessary after the 1936 fire in the ell. He did not replace earlier finishes or wallpapers and refused to permit the installation of wiring, plumbing, other than the sink that already existed in the kitchen, a telephone or central heating. His antimodernism was the subject of several magazine articles over the years and he was presented as a symbol of the traditional independent Vermont farmer. This image was compounded when he refused to sell his farm as the pressures of condominium development around him mounted though he was offered a sizable sum that would have seen him comfortably through his last few years. Publicity increased in the fall of 1986 when a court battle restored to him the ownership of the farm he had refused to sell to developers and then misguidedly signed away for $1 to a neighbor who had agreed to care for him. After the court settlement, the farmstead was deeded to the Vermont Land Trust in exchange for Theron's lifetime care. It is now the property of the state of Vermont and is to become a state historic site. Intact eighteenth and early nineteenth-century farmsteads, like the Burtch Udall-Boyd complex, are extremely rare since eighteenth and nineteenth-century dwellings are virtually always modernized and remodeled and farmsteads are changed over time in the types and placement of agricultural buildings.(22)
Arner, George B.L., Dr. Lionel Udall and His Descendants, Col. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1950.
Dana, Henry Swann, The History of Woodstock, Vermont: 1761-1886, Cambridge Mass., Houghton Mifflin, 1889; Peter Jennison, ed. of reprint ed., Taftsville, Vermont: The Countryman Press, 1980.
Hartford Vermont. Town Offices. Records of the town of Hartford, including Town Reports, Land Records, Minutes of the Proprietors' Meetings, Selectmen's Book, and Grand List.
Kidder-Smith, G.E., Architecture of the United States, Vol. I, Garden City, NY, Anchor Books, 1981.
Russell, Howard S., A Long, Deep Furrow: Three Centuries of Farming in New England, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1982.
Pierson, William H., American Buildings and Their Architects: The Colonial and Neoclassical Styles, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1976.
SPNEA, Preservation Feasibility Study. The Udall-Boyd House and Associated Property. November, 1987.
Sweeney, Kevin M., "Mansion People: Kinship, Class and Architecture in Western Massachusetts in the Mid Eighteenth-Century" Winterthur Portfolio 19, #4, Winter, 1984.
U. S. Census for Vermont, 1860, 1880. Available on microfilm.
Eastman, Harold. Neighbor and Guardian of Theron Boyd, Hillside Road, Quechee, VT, Interview 12, October 1987.
Dumville, John, Director, Vermont Historic Sites, Interview, 23 February, 1992.
DATE ENTERED: May 20, 1993.
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