National Register Nomination Information:
The Thetford Center Historic District is situated just west of the geographical center of the town of Thetford in Orange County, located on the Connecticut River, the eastern boundary of Vermont. The district, comprised of 53 contributing and two non-contributing structures, developed during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries along the falls of the Ompompanoosuc River Valley. The river bisects the ell formed by the intersection of two principal roadways - Vermont Route 113 and Tucker Hill Road. Formerly the site of considerable manufacturing commencing at the end of the 18th century and continuing until the first half of the 20th century, the hamlet is comprised of linearly arranged mill sites and the residential, commercial, public, and agricultural buildings related through social and economic history to the former industries. During the first half of the 19th century, the village became the center of the town government and several public buildings were constructed: the town hall, church and district schoolhouse. Several hill farms, doubling as mill owner residences, with accompanying agricultural outbuildings and culturally intact farmscapes comprise the balance of the district. Potential prehistoric archaeological sites located within the district have yet to be determined; upland resource sites are expected in the area to coincide with others found nearby at the junction of the Ompompanoosuc and Connecticut Rivers. Aside from the decay of the industrial buildings along the river, which remain as archeological sites, the resources of the district retain overall integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
Vermont Route 113 follows the course of the north-south river valley connecting the Thetford Center Historic District with the Thetford Hill Historic District (listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 27, 1988) to the east and Post Mills on Lake Fairlee to the north. Tucker Hill Road joins Vermont Route 113 in a right angle intersection at the northeast end of the district, running westerly toward to the town of Strafford through a covered bridge (#9), across the Ompompanoosuc River and up a steep hill to the intersection of Whippoorwill Road at the northwest corner of the district. Buzzell Bridge Road, a dirt road at the southern end of the district, continues the southerly course of Route 113 along the Ompompanoosuc River Valley as Vermont Route 113 makes a rounded, right-angle turn eastward toward Thetford Hill and the Connecticut River.
The course of Vermont Route 113 was altered during the 20th century from its sharp, right angle turn eastward between the Poors' house and barn (#45 and #45A) to form its present rounded curve by moving it to the north rear of the same property. The location of the road west to Strafford (now Tucker Hill Road) across the river was moved to its present alignment c. 1840. Buzzell Bridge Road (also Union Village Road), formerly the direct through route south to thriving Union Village on the Ompompanoosuc River, was acquired c. 1950 by the US Army Corps of Engineers for the Union Village Dam Project and is no longer a public way.
The district boundaries are roughly square and encompass the land and portions of the river historically associated with the built resources and sites. The Ompompanoosuc River bisects the district from north to south, with Bill Hill rising steeply from its western bank. Various small hills in the northern part of the district rise from the eastern bank of the river to the level terrace set below the ridge of Meetinghouse Hill, which forms the eastern boundary of the district. Thetford Center developed at this geographical point precisely because of the broadening of the river valley to form a terrace between the flanking hills. The valley is broadest at the northern end and narrows toward the southern end of the district where the ridges converge toward the river and form a natural gorge. The existence of the picturesque 40 to 50 foot falls over a series of angular rocks at the northern end of the district further insured the development of a village at this location during a time when water power was crucial to homebuilding, commerce and industry. Stone walls defining former pasture land preserve the integrity of the original field patterns of the district, which was largely cleared of trees during the 19th century. Although some of these fields have reverted to forest growth, especially on Meetinghouse Hill, the majority of the original open space is preserved. The north and west sides of Bill Hill are actively used for farming purposes and continue to evoke the original agricultural character of the district.
The visual fulcrum of Thetford Center District is the Federal style Hezekiah Porter House (#21), sited prominently on a knoll overlooking the intersection of Vermont Route 113 and Tucker Hill Road from the northwest. The magnificent setting amid open fields unites two sections to the west and south where resources are more closely grouped. The majority of the buildings along the terrace comprising Route 113 to the south of the house are set on relatively flat lots with the rear portions of the lots sloping downhill to the river or uphill to Meetinghouse Hill. Most of the primary resources are set relatively close to the road, except the church (#26) and town hall (#28), which have a deeper setback. The building along Tucker Hill Road just east of the river are closely packed and set close to the road on narrow lots. The buildings to the west of the river along the steep winding hill are former farmsteads, with greater setback, spacing and variety of orientation. The mill sites at the northern end of the district are arranged linearly along the banks of the river with former access roads on each back leading south from Tucker Hill Road. The house and mill sites at the southern end of the district on Buzzell Bridge Road are closely grouped due to the convergence of the road and river in this area.
The majority of the primary buildings of the district were constructed from 1800 to 1880, with building activity concentrated during the first half of the century. Stylistically, the Federal and Greek Revival styles predominate, with the Italianate style also somewhat common. The former Thayer's Tavern (#43) marks the early development of the district from c. 1780 and is the sole representative of the vernacular Georgian style. The John B. Moore House (#5), the Hezekiah Porter House (#21), and the Town Hall (#28) are notable examples of the brick Federal style. The Thetford Center Church (#26) is an excellent example of a Gothic Revival style church in Vermont. The Messer House (#4) with a sidehall plan and the Sanborn House (#41) with a Classic Cottage form provide good examples of the Greek Revival style. The Coombs House (#23) and the Judge Gleason House (#44) are exceptional examples of the Italianate style. Hanna Cottage (#48) is the sole representative in the district of the early 20th century seasonal cottage with the Adirondack style architectural references and landscape elements common to these simple vernacular buildings. Later, non-contributing, 20th century buildings are situated primarily on the west side of Vermont Route 113 at the center of the district and do not alter the integrity of the village scape. Secondary structures tend to have been originally used primarily for agricultural purposes. Two corn cribs (#1B and #22B) are especially noteworthy due to their infrequent survival to the present day in Vermont. An ornately detailed milk/ice house in the Italianate style (#4C) is unique in the district.
Extant industrial archaeological sites are generally well preserved and have great potential to yield information significant to the interpretation of technology in the state. Potential prehistoric archaeological sites have yet to be determined, but are likely to exist.
Most of the buildings are of frame and clapboard construction of 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 stories. The existence of several local and 19th century brickyards, one operated by Hezekiah Porter, made possible the construction of five brick houses, the church and the Town Hall.
Descriptions of the resources contained in the district begin at the northwest corner and continue in a zig-zag fashion as the numbering crosses streets and the river to include buildings/sites in proximity to each other (see sketch map). The titles for each resource include the historic owner, with the present owner in parentheses, the construction date and whether the resource is contributing or non-contributing.
1. Reed P. Howe Farm (Duffey)
This farm complex faces east over the valley toward the village of Thetford Center on the crest of a hill on the north side of Tucker Hill Road at intersection with Whippoorwill Valley Road. The property in the immediate vicinity of the building complex is defined by stone walls and open fields, with open fields and woods with stone walls defining the remaining portion of the property that is part of the district. The complex consists of a house, corncrib and barn. The original barnyard configuration, building orientation and proximity are preserved. This and the neighboring former farmsteads form a culturally significant and diversified agricultural district within the Thetford Center Historic District.
The farm was occupied by Reed P. Howe c. 1840. According to historic maps, the farm was occupied by J.W. Hewins in 1858. Thomas Austin, the occupant in 1877, was listed in 1888 as a 72 year old farmer of 60 acres on road 33. The map of 1877 shows that the neighboring farm of H.E. Brown of 100 acres surrounded this farm property, including some of the land that may have been associated with this farmstead oringially. More recently, George Porter was an occupant before the farm was owned by Armstrong Sperry, a prominent children's book author and winner of the Newbury Award. The parcel currently is comprised of 34 acres.
1A. Howe House (Duffey), c. 1835. Contributing.
The Howe House is a simple, 1-1/2 story Classic Cottage dwelling with a wing and ell that faces east toward the Ompompanoosuc River and village. It rests on a brick foundation and has clapboard siding. The asphalt shingle roof has two brick chimneys: an exterior end chimney and an interior ridge chimney. The main block has 12/12 and 2/2 sash set in plain trim and is articulated with plain cornerboards, watertable, frieze and cornice returns. Centered on the main façade is a recessed entrance in 1/2-length sidelights and replacement 8-panel door with bulls eye glass in a surround of plain trim. A 1-1/2 story wing projects to the north and features an interior ridge chimney and a screen porch with square column. A rear, 1-1/2 story ell (c.1970) on a brick foundation has a gable wall dormer and small 8/8 sash.
In the mid 1990s a board and batten barn type addition was made to the rear of the house and another such addition was made connecting the house with the historic barn. A small entry porch was added to shelter the front door.
1B. Corn Crib, c. 1840. Contributing
Located to the northwest rear of the house, this 1 story structure is set with its gable facing east front. It is raised on posts, sided with open vertical board slats and features twin vertical board doors.
1C. Barn, C.1880. Contributing
Situated to the north of the house, the gambrel front of the single level barn faces the south, forming a barnyard with the house and corncrib. The building is set on a stone foundation with board and batten siding, fixed 6-light sash, and sliding vertical board doors.
2. Paige Farm (Whitlock)
This former farmstead is situated on the south side of Tucker Hill Road where it is bordered by the stream marking the western boundary of the district. The house faces north in an open landscape defined by stone walls and original field patterns. The farm historically had the most diverse agricultural building types within the district. The existing remains of the former agricultural outbuildings provide a great potential to yield information significant to Vermont's agricultural history if properly investigated.
The original farmhouse on the site was occupied by J.G. Moore in 1858. This may be a relative of James Moore who came from Pembroke, New Hampshire c. 1795 and operated the gristmill at the Center for many years. Illustrative of the economic diversity spurring growth of the community during the initial settlement period, many other original farm settlers augmented their income through mill ownership. In 1877, this farmhouse was part of a large agricultural complex, Maple Hill Farm, owned by W.H. Messer and composed of 200 acres and two farmsteads (see #4). The stone foundation remains of the many agricultural outbuildings indicate that this location may have been the residence of a tenant farmer, with Messer residing at the neighboring farm (#4). The historic map of 1877 shows a hog house, carriage house and store room, sheep barn, cattle barn, corn barn, and granary, as well as a dwelling at this location. In 1888, William H. Messer farmed 200 acres on road 33 (34) and had 6 cows, 20 head of cattle, 75 sheep, and 550 sugar trees. Robert Vaughan and Ralph Fifield owned the farm prior to a fire in c. 1924 that destroyed the original barns and house. The present buildings were constructed by Harry Paige in 1933.
2A. Paige Farm House (Whitlock), 1933. Contributing.
The main block of this 1 story vernacular dwelling has asphalt shingle siding, a sheet metal roof, and a concrete block/stone foundation. The 1 story garage/shed ell has a stone foundation and may be part of the original house on the site that burned c. 1924.
2B. Barn, c. 1933. Contributing
This 1 x 2 bay, 1 story, post and beam building is situated with its gable end facing front. A rear, gable roofed pole barn wing has vertical board siding and a sheet metal roof. A fire destroyed the barns and house c. 1924. According to historic maps, this may be the location of the carriage barn and store room for Maple Hill Farm.
2C. Stone Foundations, Barn Sites from Moore/Messer Farm, c. 1850. Contributing
A series of stone walls set approximately eight feet high indicate the former locations of several bank barns. These are the sites of the sheep barn and cattle barn for Maple Hill Farm evident on the historic map of 1877.
3. Krugman House, c. 1987. Non-contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, frame house with ell is non-contributing due to age. It is set far to the south of Tucker Hill Road with a long field road providing access to its setting near the stream forming the western boundary of the district. It is situated amid woods and open fields defined by stonewalls delineating the pastures of the 19th century Maple Hill Farm.
4. Messer's Maple Hill Farm (Woglom)
Maple Hill Farm is situated on the south side of Tucker Hill Road in a rolling, open landscape that retains its agricultural field patterns and numerous stone walls, especially evident on the steep hillside (Bill Hill) to the east. The house faces north toward the road and, together with the orientation of the agricultural outbuildings (#s 4B, C, D), forms a barnyard along its east side. The buildings are well preserved examples of their types. The architectural and stylistic references, especially of the rare building type of the milk house, are outstanding in the district. Set amid its intact historic agricultural landscape presently farmed by a neighboring farmer, the complex retains its integrity as a culturally significant component of a historic diversified agricultural district within the Thetford Center Historic District.
Historic maps indicate that the farm was occupied by Z.E. Messer in 1858. By 1877, it had become the residence of W.H. Messer, owner of Maple Hill Farm, who had evidently enlarged the holdings to 200 acres to include the next farm to the west (#2) where most of the functioning agricultural outbuildings were located. Later owners include Will Willoughby and Joseph Sayre.
4A. Z.E. Messer House, (Woglom), c. 1840. Contributing
This 1-1/2 story, 3 x 3 bay, gable front dwelling with rear wings and side ell is Greek Revival in style and is distinguished by a recessed sidehall entrance. The house is set on a granite foundation with clapboard siding, plain cornerboards and a sheet metal roof. The principal door has a six panel configuration with 2 long/2 small/2 medium panels. It is set in a molded enframement with half-length sidelights over molded panels in a surround with symmetrical trim with corner blocks and a central rectangular panel. Sash is mixed, with 12/12 and 2/2. An original 1-1/2 story, rear wing connects with a 1-1/2 story, remodeled rear wing. A side ell projecting to the west from the main block is in the process of construction. A retaining wall at the rear of the rear wing indicates the former location of a barn connecting the house to the remaining agricultural outbuildings.
4B. Barn, c. 1850. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, gable front barn has a 1-1/2 story bank barn ell and is detailed with 9/6 and 12/12 sash. The principal entrance is a sliding vertical board door on the north gable front that faces in the same direction as that of the house. The eastern side of the barn has a high stone foundation wall.
4C. Milk/Ice House, c. 1880. Contributing
This small frame and clapboard structure measures approximately 6'x10' with its gable facing west front, thereby forming a barnyard with the barn and rear wings of the house. Built into the bank on two levels, it features plain trim, 6/6 sash, louvered wood shutters, a cupola with a bracketed cornice and an asphalt shingle roof with a molded brick chimney at the ridge. This is the only building type of its kind in the district. It does not appear on the map of 1877.
4D. Shed, c. 1880. Contributing
This 1 story structure measures about 5'x5' and has vertical board siding and a sheet metal gable roof.
5. John B. Moore Farm (Perrin)
This notable farm complex on the north side of Tucker Hill Road was known as "Riverside" when it was occupied by Horace Brown in 1877. The buildings (a house with attached barns) are situated on the east slope of the hill with a southern orientation, facing down the Ompompanoosuc River and toward Bill Hill, which is presently associated with the property through common ownership. Physical evidence reveals that another free standing barn was situated at the western end of the complex, as indicated on the map of 1877. Open fields and a wooded hill behind the buildings from the northern boundary of the district. Another residence owned by H.E. Brown was located across Tucker Hill Road in 1877. It was deserted and consequently burned by the fire department c. 1985.
The house was built c. 1819 by John B. Moore, a co-owner at one time with Hezekiah Porter (lived at #21 in the district) of the fulling mill and the gristmill nearby at the falls. The steep hill out of the valley on which the house is situated was known as Moore Hill during this period. Samuel Farnsworth, also part owner of the grist and fulling mills, was born in Alstead, New Hampshire, and occupied the farm c. 1840. It was at this time that the route of the road (Tucker Hill Road) and bridge location across the river were moved further upstream (north) through a corner of Farnsworth's orchard to more directly serve this house. Farnsworth owned a clover mill and fulling mill at the second dam, a mill at the west end of the bridge (sawmill or blacksmith shop) and, with Hezekiah Porter, rebuilt the gristmill at the Center and operated it for many years. By 1845, Farnsworth had moved to Lyme, New Hampshire, and by 1847 had divested himself of his mills in Thetford Center.
Horace E. Brown, the occupant indicated on historic maps of 1858 and 1877, was born in Thetford in 1824 and left town at an early age to work in various locations as a mason and contractor. In c. 1861 (although he is listed on the map of 1858 as the owner of this farm) he returned to Thetford to live, enlisting as Captain of Company A, 15th Vt. Volunteers in 1862. From c. 1866 until after 1970, Brown manufactured straw-board with S.M. Gleason (also a judge, see #44) and J.B. Cram (the innkeeper, see #43) at Noosuc Mills (#49B). In 1870 he bought a shoe manufactory, which he ran until it burned in 1873. He was married for the second time in 1878, when some alterations to the house may have occurred. In 1888, his farm numbered 110 acres. This farm, together with the Howe Farm (#1) and Messer's Maple Hill Farm (#4) across Tucker Hill Road (then road #33), forms a culturally intact and significant diversified agricultural entity within the Thetford Center Historic District. It is interesting to note that many of the early 19th century owners of these farms were also engaged in mill ownership, thus justifying the inclusion of these farms within the boundaries of the district.
5A. John B. Moore House (Perrin), c. 1820, alterations c. 1865. Contributing
This outstanding example of the Federal style as it was practiced in Thetford is a 2-1/2 story, structural brick house with a 1-1/2 story wing, barn ell and barn wing projecting to the west. The 5 x 2 bay main block has a stone foundation and an asphalt shingle, gable roof with twin, interior, black chimney stacks. The pedimented gable ends are infilled with flush horizontal boarding. The principal façade features an eight-panel door with flanking, half-length sidelights set over panels, molded trim and a semi-elliptical arch with a wooden "fanlight" panel. Sash is 12/12: those on the first story are set in recessed semi-elliptical arches with wood infill while those on the second story are set under stone lintels. Wood louvered shutters flanking the sash exhibit a local building tradition with 3 sections, the center section having louvers that are vertically placed.
The 1-1/2 story, wood frame wing is articulated with a hip roofed porch having square columns with pointed arched panels supporting a denticulated cornice. Sash is generally 6/6: a gable dormer has bargeboards. The shed entrance has clipped corners. The 1-1/2 story, 3x3 bay, post and beam barn ell has a gable roof, clapboard/board and batten siding, 12/12 sash and a vertical board door. A 1-1/2 story, gable roofed barn wing is 3x3 bay, post and beam with twin sliding vertical board doors and a more recent rear, shed-roofed extension.
5B. Barn site, c.1830. Contributing
Stone retaining walls along the hill to the southwest of the house and wings indicate the former location of a barn that was present on the Beers map of 1877.
6. Joseph Matson Farm (Showerman)
Located on the north side of Tucker Hill Road and nestled under the steep hill on the west bank of the Ompompanoosuc River at the covered bridge (#9), the Matson Farm comprised 25 acres in 1877, with a house and barn on the property. Joseph Matson was half owner of the nearby fulling and grist mills in 1846. In 1888, Lucretia Matson, widow of Joseph and aged 88, resided here. It was later owned by Chamberlin and Elwood Boen. The house has its side to the road, facing westward away from the river. The barn faces south toward the road, forming a barnyard with the wing of the house. The historic map of 1877 shows another smaller barn wing attached to the east of the present barn. The present lot consists of 1.2 acres, although the culturally significant open space behind the buildings to the north remains intact and is included in the district.
6A. Joseph Matson House (Showerman), c. 1820. Contributing
This Cape Cod dwelling has a rear ell and a side wing with ell. Set on a brick foundation with clapboard siding and an asphalt shingle roof, the house is articulated with plain cornerboards. Its wide frieze and simple box cornice return on gable ends. The principal entrance has a modern 6-panel door set in plain trim with transom lights. Sash is 2/2 with plain trim and flanking louvered wood shutters. A small balcony on the south gable end of the main block is set under the upper story window.
The rear ell is unfilled with porches and has a bracketed cornice. The wing has been remodeled with sash and recessed frontispiece entrance.
6B. Barn, c. 1840. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story barn has board and batten siding, a vertical board sliding door, and a hay door. A granite fence post is visible at the south gable front.
7. Perrin Sugar House, c. 1980. Non-contributing.
This small gable roofed building is located on the south side of Tucker Hill Road. It measures approximately 5' x 10' and has horizontal board siding and a shed roofed wood shed. It is non-contributing due to age.
8. Blanchard House (Miller), c. 1840. Contributing
This 1-1/2 story, frame Cape Cod dwelling on the south side of Tucker Hill Road faces northeast toward the covered bridge over the river at the east base of Bill Hill. In an overgrown setting, the grounds feature several retaining walls from structures previously nearby. Historic photographs indicate that the dwelling formerly was surrounded by agricultural fields adjoining those currently on the west side of Bill Hill. The house has been considerably remodeled and has an Italianate style principal entrance door with twin vertical lights and 3 panels with bolection molding. Mixed with 6/6 sash are a large modern multilight, round arched sash in a large gable dormer, a rear shed roofed dormer and a large fanlight in the gable side. A massive, center brick chimney stack dominates the roof.
It is difficult to precisely identify this house on historic maps. The maps of 1858 and 1877 show three houses in this area. It appears that this dwelling may be the Blanchard House on the map of 1858 and the Russell House on the map of 1877. It is situated above a former road that ran along the river to what Charles Vaughan to the early 20th century as the "potato piece" to the south.
8A. Garage/Shop, c. 1900. Contributing
This 1-1/2 story structure is built into a bank, thereby creating a ground level used as a garage. The wood frame structure has a sheet metal, gable roof and mixed siding with sheet metal and asphalt shingles. Windows are 2/2 with plain trim. A shed-roofed open wing projects from the north side.
9. Thetford Center Covered Bridge, c. 1840. Contributing.
The Thetford Center Covered Bridge, listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 1974, consisted originally of a single span supported by two flanking timber Haupt trusses. Each truss combines a series of timber diagonals and uprights with a laminated plank arch comprised of three layers of heavy planks pegged together vertically. The timber desk structure was replaced by 1963 by four longitudinal steel beams and a central pier was built under the span, relieving the Haupt trusses of all but the superstructure of the bridge. The abutments were built originally of irregular stone laid dry and were capped with concrete to receive the steel deck beams. The lower part of the west abutment has been faced with concrete. The narrow central pier is built of reinforced concrete.
The bridge is 128.5 feet long and 20.5 feet wide at deck level with an 18 foot roadway. The wood floor of planks laid transversely on edge on the deck beams begins seven feet inside each portal. The ends of the side walls flare upward so that the gable ends overhang the floor about one foot at each portal. The pier stands under the midpoint of the original span. The bridge is sheathed with vertical board siding and the gable roof is covered with sheet metal. A small rectangular window is cut in the middle of each side wall.
The Thetford Center Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge in Vermont utilizing Haupt patent trusses for support. It is the only Haupt truss covered bridge in the Northeast, with the only other surviving Haupt patent in the USA known as Bunker Hull Bridge in a North Carolina Park in Catawba County. The first bridge at Thetford Center is said to have been located further downstream, based on tradition as well as vague deed references in the land records.
10. Industrial/Mill/Residential Site Complex
The picturesque, 40 to 50 foot cascade of the Great Falls of the Ompompanoosuc River over a series of massive, angular rocks is important as one of the longest and last free-flowing falls in the center of a rural village as well as one of the only a few remaining natural waterfalls in Vermont. From the late 18th century until the first half of the 20th century, the falls was the primary catalyst for the development of the surrounding village of Thetford Center, which depended upon waterpower for industrial/commercial growth. Cursory archaeological evaluations of the numerous locations of former mills indicate the potential for these sites to yield information significant to Vermont's industrial history if properly excavated. The importance of the falls to Native American Indian groups predating European settlement has yet to be assessed, yet upland resource sites are expected in the area to coincide with the one prehistoric site located to date near the junction of the Ompompanoosuc and Connecticut Rivers. The possible existence of a Native American Indian burial ground northeast of the bridge as well as of a possible original gristmill site north of the bridge or at some other location on the west bank of the river should be further assessed as well.
Historical research reveals that the water here may have first been impounded as early as 1772, with various industrial sites used until the mid-20th century. The original road and bridge crossings were changed at least once - c. 1840. Physical evidence of all the former buildings historically located on the sites has only been partially examined. The chronological use of each of the sites over time is somewhat confusing: the early owners of mills were often not recorded on deeds, the deeds cannot be found and/or there were often multiple-owners who had partial shares in one or more of the various adjacent enterprises. Gazetteers and historic maps have been found to be unreliable in some cases. Many of the buildings were destroyed by floods or fires and new ones erected on existing foundations. The information is summarized here according to the best efforts of several recent attempts to quantify this data. Further deed and archaeological research of all the sites is necessary to clarify the evolution of uses of each site as well as to determine early road/bridge alignments.
Most of the grouping of sites (#10A-I) on the north and south sides of the covered bridge (#9) and on both east and west banks of the Ompompanoosuc River was acquired c. 1950 by the Army Corps of Engineers due to flooding from their dam built downstream at Union Village in the town of Thetford. Maps #2 and #2A sketch the areas contained in this site complex, with some historic photos and current photographs further clarifying the evaluation. Physical remains of most of the sites are evident amid tangled brush.
10A. Blacksmith Shop Industrial Site, c. 1830. Contributing
This area of grass on the west side of the Ompompanoosuc River just below the bridge shows no surface evidence of having been the site of a blacksmith shop as shown on maps of 1858 and 1877. In 1839 Samuel Farnsworth owned a mill at the west end of the bridge (the former location of the bridge before it was changed c. 1840), which may have been this shop or the sawmill (10B). This facility may have used a water powered trip-hammer and was active until the 20th century. Further subsurface evaluation is needed to determine the exact location and potential to yield information. Old photos indicates that the shop may have been set further back from the river toward the present access road and somewhat more downstream (south).
10B. Sawmill Industrial Site, c. 1772. Contributing.
Located on the west bank of the river downstream (south) from the site of the later blacksmith shop, a sawmill is shown at this location on the maps of 1796 and 1858, but not on the map of 1877. In 1768 proprietor Col. Alexander Phelps, attorney, was given land for a mill at Thetford Center, Isaac Fellowes and John Strong took over the unfinished project in 1772 and were supposed to build a saw and grist mill. It is unclear if Fellowes ever built the saw mill. After his death in 1793, his son Gustavus Fellowes joined with Joseph Thayer in building a mill. The rough Whitelaw map of 1796 indicates that there was both a saw and grist mill owned by C. Thayer on the west bank of the river, with the sawmill located to the south of the gristmill (Map #4), as well as the Thayer house and shop nearby. In 1795 Fellowes, Strong, and Thayer conveyed their mills to Simeon Riley in two separate deeds. Various owners (usually in partnership with others) in the 19th century include Charles Hopkins (c. 1800), to whom Riley was indebted and who took over the mill. Hezekiah Porter (lived in #21 in district) purchased the mill from Hopkins after c. 1815, and Joseph Matson (lived in #6) owned the mill c. 1854 - 1869. The saw mill was not rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in 1873.
Map #2A shows a sketch of the physical evidence of the sawmill. A large cut with drilling sears in the rock and an iron pin set in the east wall of the pit indicate that a stone wheel pit is in evidence. The pit is about 17' long, 9' wide, and 13' deep and probably held a wheel no larger than 6' wide and 10' in diameter. A short length of dry-laid stone wall stretches along the western wall of the pit. The area to the west of the pit where a building would have been reveals no additional historic features. On the bank is a dump that appears to only contain debris from the 20th century, thus post-dating the mill. The mill was not rebuilt after having been destroyed c. 1873.
10C. Cabinet Shop Industrial Site, c. 1845. Contributing.
Located between the covered bridge and the gristmill on the east side of the river was a two story, red shop in which Royal Hammond Smith manufactured musical instruments during the 1840s. S.A. Fish was the earliest cabinetmaker at Thetford Center (1862-83), with a shop and store in this red structure for some time, although Fish may later have transferred his shop to site #10E where he owned the rebuilt gristmill. The map of 1858 reveals that Fish resided in a house (#13) across the street from the cabinet shop. A mortgage of 1864 lists the woodworking machinery of the shop: a morticing machine, an upright planer, a Banister lathe, an upright saw, a splitting saw, a squaring off saw, a turning lathe, a boring and grooving machine, an upright boring machine and belting. The map of 1877 shows no building on this site, confirming that a fire c. 1870 destroyed this mill. The site may have been used at the turn of the 20th century for a dry house for the Sayre Brothers furniture mill below the old Grist Mill at the second dam (Sayre lived in #11 in district). Lumber to be seasoned was stacked in the loft of this building on a slat floor, with a covered way from the mill to the dry house. Further investigation is required to determine the existence of subsurface remains as well as ascertain the sequence of occupation of the site.
10D. Gristmill Industrial Site, c. 1814-c. 1873. Contributing
A gristmill was evidently in operation at various locations on the falls from the late 18th century until c. 1910. The large, stone retaining walls of the mid-19th century gristmill and portions of the modified dam (#10G) are evident on the east side of the river at this site near the south side of the covered bridge. The early history of the gristmill at Thetford Center has been summarized in #10B with the sawmill site; the first gristmill may have been on the west bank of the river above the bridge and north of the sawmill rather than at this east bank location.
The mill at this site is certain to have existed at least from c. 1814 when it was owned by Hopkins. Hezekiah Porter (lived in #21 in district) and Samuel Farnsworth (lived in #5 in district) rebuilt the gristmill (listed on the 1820 tax list as a corn mill) and operated it for many years, with other owners also holding shares in the enterprise at various times. In 1842-43, Farnsworth deeded the gristmill and its water privileges to Clough and Asa Bond. From 1844-46 a half interest in the gristmill was owned by John B. Moore (lived in #5). The interest was purchased by Joseph Matson in 1846, so that my 1847 the gristmill was owned by Moore and Matson. The gristmill is evident on the Wallings map of 1858, although without an attributed owner. This gristmill, as well as other mills, is said to be burned c. 1870 or 1873. When rebuilt by S.A. Fish, who lived at #13 in the district, the newer gristmill appears to have still used the mill privilege of the first dam but was located on the site of #10E partially above the second dam just below its former location. The grist mill show on the Beers map of 1877 would therefore have been that which was rebuilt by Fish, although it was attributed on that map to Mrs. L. Baldwin. This later gristmill will be further described in documentation on site #10E. Site #10D was filled c. 1913 when Charles Vaughan purchased the mill on site #10E and constructed an electric generating plant. Nineteenth century photographs from before the 1873 fire show a large, 3-1/2 story, wood frame, clapboarded structure with a gable roof, 8/8 sash, fixed 18 light sash and a 5 bay eaves façade aligned along the river bank where the large stone retained wall is still easily identifiable. Judging from the architectural detail, this is evidently the gristmill as it was rebuilt by Farnsworth and Hezekiah Porter c. 1814, which was not replaced after it burned c. 1873.
10E. Industrial Site Complex, later Gristmill/Electric Generating Plant, c. 1806-1948. Contributing.
Just above and at the level of the two lower dams are stone walls associated with the foundations of a series of various mills and shops that appear to use water power from any of the three dams on the falls. Several concrete structures related to the 20th century use of the area for Vaughan's electric generating plant are in evidence, as well as stone foundations from numerous 19th century shops.
There appears to have been a fire c. 1873 that destroyed several of the mills on the site. Before the rebuilding of the gristmill c. 1873 by S.A. Fish on one of the several foundations of the site, a series of manufacturing shops of various types occupied the evolving complex of buildings. As was the case with many of the different mills on the various sites, ownership of several enterprises was concentrated among several constant mill owners who most often lived nearby in the district as farmer/businessmen: Hopkins, Porter, Farnsworth, Moore, Matson, Fletcher, French, and others.
One of the earliest mills at this site complex, in existence since c. 1806 below the grist mill on site #10D, was a fulling mill owned first by Hezekiah Porter, later by Samuel Farnsworth and John B. Moore, and in 1847 by Ziba Fletcher. A carding mill owned by Charles Hopkins and later by Hezekiah Porter was also one of the earliest mills on the site. A clover mill owned by Samuel Farnsworth was in existence c. 1824 and was still operating in 1834.
The site complex could also be the former location of Hiram Sloane and Truman Moore's wheelwright shop, the site of which has yet to be determined. This mechanics shop utilized water power from dam #2 and was in use from c. 1826 - c. 1837. Sloane and Moore's shop may be the later location of Bosworth's carriage shop and axletree manufactory indicated on the Wallings map of 1858.
In 1847 Ziba Fletcher obtained water privilege from the gristmill to operate a starch or shingle mill, "in preference to carding, cloth dressing [fulling] and saw mill privileges." Fletcher was out of business by 1858, when he sold the factory to Elias French, reserving the planks from the starch vats. This mill appears to have been wedged into what was becoming rather tight quarters among existing mills evolving on this site.
Hammond Porter (lived in #15 in the district) began his edge tool shop (also known as an axe factory or trip-hammer shop) c. 1840 on land of William Kingman. Porter forged old tools to shape new tools. The shop was constructed of brink with a related coal house noted on a deed reference of 1847. Hammond Porter built the third and last dam in 1843-44, formerly drawing water for his tool shop/axe factory operation from the second dam. The brick axe factory is also evident on the Wallings map of 1858, which is also the year Porter sold the land to M.J. Walker of Norwich. On this map the axe factory is located below a carriage shop and axletree factory and above a sash and blind factory. None of these shops is evident on the map of 1877.
Another mill on the site, the "yellow shop," used as a furniture shop and also located above French land (sash and blind shop, see below), was purchased by James Allen in 1870 (when he also purchased #11 in the district). William Tewkbury purchased the homestead and mill and manufactured chairs and tables from 1874 until 1882.
One of the lowest mills on the falls, the sash and blind factory, was started in 1857. Elias French bought a small shop, which had once adjoined the brick edge-tool shop, from Hammond Porter. This shop, which was later mortgaged to Joseph Matson, used a third of the water from the flume in the brick shop. This factory is the last mill on the falls on the map of 1858. French operated it definitely from 1862 to 1865. However, it was not listed on the Beers Map of 1877. The machinery from the sash and blind shop was bought by Sam Ladd and Clogston, who operated a group of woodworking and sleigh repair shops at Lake Fairlee.
In 1870 Horace Brown (lived in #5 in the district) brought and fitted up a shoe factory that burned in 1873. The exact location of this shop is not known; it appears that a number of the mills on the east bank of the river, including the gristmill, also burned at the time. On the Beers map of 1877 (after the fire of c. 1873), there were only two mill buildings on this site (10E): the rebuilt gristmill and S. G. Rogers wool stock factory.
A historic photograph of Thetford Center Gristmill in 1908 verifies the gristmill as rebuilt by S.A. Fish c. 1873 was not on the older gristmill foundation #10D: a white, 1-1/2 story building with 2/2 sash and other architectural detail of c. 1873 is oriented in the same manner as the earlier gristmill described above. Judging from the new mill's location relative to dams and rock formations in the photograph, it was evidently set on the foundation of an earlier building that was just downstream from the site of the older gristmill (#10D). These lower mills appear to have been destroyed at the same time as the older grist mill.
After the grist mill was rebuilt c. 1873 by Fish for more than $4000, he never realized much profit. By 1883 James and Anson Moulton were the proprietors of the grist mill and manufactures of butter tubs, meat barrels, and sap holders, with Perley Moulton's cooper shop above and two sets of grinding stones below. William P. Ladd purchased the mill in 1893 for $1000, repaired the dam and flume, and made another $1000 of repairs in order to begin operation in 1893. Within two years he had sold more than eighty car loads of corn, flour and feed, bringing increased business to the area through his business success. The mill was acquired by Charles and Oramel Sayre who manufactured tables in their woodworking shop before the building was acquired by Charles Vaughan c. 1913.
Charles Vaughan initially carried out business as it was established in the mill. After first manufacturing wooden wheels, he began to alter the mill to adapt it as an electric generating plant. Vaughan made a penstock that was round in section out of wooden staves sawn in his shop and secured with bent iron rods. The water was channeled a horizontal iron wheel that ran a turbine and generator. The first electricity was generated by c. 1919; 25 customers by 1920 received power between 5 A.M. and 11 P.M. The mill building was last occupied by Charlotte Vaughan's laundry until c. 1946, after which the structure was dismantled for the Union Village Dam project.
10F. Clark House Site, c. 1860-1910.
Further archaeological investigation is required to establish the exact location of the G.G. Clark house as indicated on the Beers Map of 1877. Occupied by the Joulett family c. 1900, the Clark house served as a boarding house for factory workers during later years. Reached by a road serving the mills on the east bank of the river, the Clark house burned c. 1910.
10G. Dam #1, rebuilt c. 1912. Contributing
This dam, which is partially breached and is the furthest upstream, was extensively modified by Charles Vaughan c. 1913. The dam is constructed mainly of concrete, with stone work for the penstock of the hydroelectric plant installed by Charles Vaughan c.1915. The route of the wooden stave penstock held with iron rings is seen as a depression leading downstream from the intake hole just east of the large foundation wall remaining from the gristmill. The penstock flowed into a concrete structure with wooden control gates which may have acted as a flow regulator (located at the approximate location of dam #2) before dropping to the edge of the river to a turbine. A circular concrete structure with exposed steel reinforcing bars is related to the generating powerhouse (located at the approximate location of dam #3). The original dam on the site was in existence from at least c. 1806.
10G. Dam #2 (site), c. 1806 - c. 1913
No remains of this dam have been found, but further investigation is warranted. The original dam on the site was in existence from c. 1806 and removed by Charles Vaughan c. 1913.
10H. Dam #3 (site), c. 1843 - c. 1900. Contributing.
A series of holes drilled in the bedrock across the river indicate the former location of this structure, which has since been removed. It is the furthest downstream of the dams and was built by Hammond Porter in c. 1843 - 1844 for his trip-hammer shop that had previously been drawing water from the second dam. It was not evident when Charles Vaughan acquired the property.
11. O.J. Bosworth House (Arkay), c. 1835. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, frame Classic Cottage has a modern wing. It rests on a concrete block foundation and has clapboard siding and an asphalt shingle roof with an interior brick chimney stack. It is articulated with a wide watertable and frieze, plain cornerboards and a molded cornice with gable returns. Sash is 6/6 with plain trim and aluminum storm sash. A 20th century door is set in a plain surround under a gable entrance porch with square columns and a pierced balustrade. The 1-1/2 story wing appears modern, with casement sash and a 2 bay garage at ground level.
Situated on the north side of Tucker Hill Road next to the river, the house was occupied by O.J. Bosworth, owner of the carriage shop and axletree factory (site #10E) on the map of 1858. The house was bought in combination with the yellow shop in 1870 for $4,000 by James Allen. By 1874 the house and shop had been purchased by table manufacturer, William Tewksbury; Tewksbury is listed as the occupant on the Beers Map of 1877.
12. H.&J. Carr House (Foster), c. 1835. Contributing.
This brick, Greek Revival style, Classic Cottage with a frame wing and shed ell is notable for having two principal facades. Set on the south side of Tucker Hill Road just to the east of the former access to the mills, it is oriented with its gable side to the road, thus affording a well articulated principal façade on both the east and west. The dwelling rests on a granite block foundation and has a sheet metal roof with interior brick end chimneys. The two entrances are detailed identically: a six panel door is set in a surround of fluted trim with corner blocks and patera. The doors are flanked by half-length sidelights over panels and enframed with symmetrical molding having corner blocks and a central rectangular panel over the door. Granite lintels surmount entrances as well as fenestration having 6/6 sash with flanking wood shutters. The 1-1/2 story frame wing has 6/6 sash and an interior brick ridge chimney. The 1-1/2 story shed ell is attached to the wing by a 1 story, flat roofed ell with 9/6 sash. The shed has clapboard siding, an asphalt shingle roof, a vertical board sliding door, and hay door. The interior of the main block exhibits an original cellar oven.
Although the house is said to have been built by Hammond Porter, it was the property of H. & J. Carr in 1858 and of F. E. Stevens in 1877. The unusually decorative architectural sophistication on the two principal facades is unique in the district.
13. S.A. Fish House (Metz), c. 1840. Contributing
This frame, Greek Revival style Classic Cottage is on the north side of Tucker Hill Road and has a 1-1/2 story wing as well as a related barn. A mill pond is evident on the map of 1877 behind the dwelling. The house has a granite block foundation, clapboard siding and a sheet metal roof. Articulated with a wide watertable, corner pilasters, and wide frieze, the molded cornice returns on gable ends. The principal entrance has a 4 panel door, glass storm door and half-length sidelights over molded panels recessed in a symmetrically molded surround with cornerblocks and a molded, central rectangular panel. The original 6/6 sash is covered with aluminum storm sash and surrounded with plain trim. The 1-1/2 story wing has a denticulated cornice, a porch with pierced posts and lattice skirt, and a concrete block interior ridge chimney. The shed portion of the wing has twin vertical board doors.
13A. Barn, c. 1840. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, 1 x 3 bay building on a stone foundation is of post and beam construction. It has vertical board siding, a sheet metal roof and a braced entrance under a shed roof wing.
According to historic maps, the property was owned by S.A. Fish in 1858 and 1877. The gristmill owned by the Moulton Brothers in 1888 was built by Stephen A. Fish & Son c. 1873 on the water privilege of the old Porter mill. Fish was well-known as the Center's first cabinetmaker. A signed commode made by Fish is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Known also as a bedstead factory, Fish's red cabinet shop was on the site of #10C just below the bridge.
14. H.B. Sloane House (Johnson), c. 1820. Contributing.
Situated on the north side of Tucker Hill Road, this narrow plan, 5 x 2 bay, Cape form dwelling with two wings is detailed on the Greek Revival style. The yard is enclosed with a balustraded fence. Set on a granite block foundation with clapboard siding, the sheet metal roof is of very low profile and features a brick, interior chimney. The façade is articulated with a wide water table, plain corner boards and a molded cornice that returns on the gable ends. The 2/2 sash are trimmed with the cornice incorporated into the eaves cornice and have flanking louvered wood shutters with the center slats running vertically. The principal entrance has a vertical board door and half-length sidelights set in symmetrically molded trim and recess in a fluted surround with corner blocks. The 1-1/2 story residential wing has a large exterior chimney. The 1-1/2 story shed/barn wing projects at an angle from the wing and has a vertical board pass door, a vertical board sliding door and hay door.
The house was early occupied by Hiram B. Sloane, the first wheelwright in Thetford Center. From c. 1826 to 1837, Sloane operated a carriage (chaise) shop with Truman Moore, the son of James Moore (lived in #2 in the district). According to historic maps, this house was occupied by F. Gage in 1858 and by I.C. Snow in 1877. In 1888, Isaac C. Snow owned a house and lot and farmed 82 acres with Aldace W. Snow. The dwelling served as the Methodist Parsonage for many years. The early, low profile Cape form and well articulated architectural detail are significant in the district.
15. H.S. Porter Barn (Fifield), c. 1850. Contributing.
This 3x2 bay, post and beam barn of one level has vertical board siding and fixed stall sash. It is set at the rear of a lot on the north side of Tucker Hill Road.
This property was occupied by H. S. Porter on the map of 1858 and on the map of 1877 was the residence of Dr. M. Goodwin who settled on the property in 1868. The house is no longer standing. Hammond S. Porter was born in 1818 and was active in Thetford Center from c. 1840. Porter set up a trip hammer shop and coal house, manufacturing axes and scythes in the brick shop on site #10E.
15A. Concrete slab, c. 1980. Non-contributing.
This is formerly the location of a trailer. It is non-contributing due to age.
16. Clark House (Fifield), 1909-1910. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story dwelling faces Tucker Hill Road on the south side and has a 1-1/2 story wing with an enclosed front porch. It has a sheet metal gable roof with an exterior brick chimney and shed dormer, asbestos shingle siding and a 5 bay eaves front with 2/2 sash. The wing has a concrete foundation and a shed-roofed rear addition. This house was constructed after the family home burned (#10F) in the millyard.
17. Blacksmith Shop/Socony Garage (Fifield), c. 1900. Contributing.
This 3x3 bay, gable front shop has a rock foundation, clapboard siding and a metal roof. Sash is 6/6 with principal access through twin leafed, vertical board doors. A 2 level, shed roofed ell features fixed, 6 light sash and a vertical board door. A stone retaining wall separates this lot from the steep slope of the graveyard hill to the east. The building bore the sign "A.B. Clark, Thetford Center, VT" and another below "Socony" in 1979. Arthur Clark had a blacksmith shop in the building for many years.
18. Tucker Hill Cemetery, 1786, Contributing.
This early cemetery is enclosed with an American wire fence on wood fence posts next to a granite post fence. Set on a bluff that descends steeply to the river at the rear, some slate stones features urns with willows set in an arch, angel heads, and compass work on the sides that may be attributed to local stone carver, John Ball. It is the burying place for Revolutionary War hero, Richard Wallace, who swam Lack Champlain in the summer of 1777 with a message from Fort Ticonderoga to General Lincoln at Mount Independence. A resident of Rice's Mills in Thetford, the Richard Wallace chapter of the DAR placed a monument here after his death in 1833. The oldest stone commemorates Amos Hovey who died April 10, 1786.
19. T. Burr House (Schwartzman), c. 1850. Contributing.
Situated on the north side of Tucker Hill Road, this 1-1/2 story, sidehall, vernacular Greek Revival style dwelling is oriented with its gable facing south front. Set on a stone foundation with clapboard siding, the metal roof features a center brick chimney stack on the ridge. The façade is articulated with plain cornerboards and a wide frieze. Sash is 6/6 with plain trim and aluminum storm sash. A porch on the gable front with paired square posts, a hip roof and complete entablature was removed in the mid 1990s and now there is a block-shaped porch stoop. The property was occupied by T. Burr in 1858 and by Mrs. M.H. Stiles in 1877, according to historic maps.
19A. Barn, c. 1850. Contributing.
This related 2x2 bay, post and beam barn has a metal gable roof and board and batten siding. The sliding, vertical board door opens under a multilight transom and small stall openings punctuate the walls.
20. C.E. Porter House (Schindler), 1855. Contributing.
Together with the attached barn wing and connecting ell, the plan of this 1-1/2 story Greek Revival/Italianate style dwelling forms an 'H.' Situated with its gable facing front on the south side of Tucker Hill Road, the sidehall entrance has a 4-panel door, full-length sidelights, a plain surround and full entablature with paired brackets in the cornice. Although the substitute siding obscures details, the wide plain eaves are evident. Sash is 6/6 with aluminum storm sash. A 1-1/2 story ell connects the main block to a 1-1/2 story barn wing with clapboard siding, plain cornerboards, 6/6 sash and a sliding vertical board door with multilight transom.
The house was owned by Nelson A. Porter on the map of 1858 and by C. E. Porter on the map of 1877. Charles E. Porter was a son of farmer Eleazer Porter and grandson of Hezekiah Porter, who settled #21 in 1817.
20A. Shed, c. 1975. Non-contributing.
This small, shed-roofed structure is non-contributing due to age.
21. Hezekiah Porter House (Roger & Hanlon), 1822. Contributing.
This outstanding 2-1/2 story, Federal style brick residence with wing is set on a knoll overlooking the intersection of Vermont Route 113 and Tucker Hill Road from the northwest. The magnificent setting amid open fields is the visual fulcrum of the district, uniting two sections to the south and west where resources are more closely grouped. The Federal style detail of the house is unusually decorative ad architecturally sophisticated as compared to others in the district.
Featuring an asphalt shingle, gable roof and stone foundation, the 5x4 bay house is distinguished by a semi-elliptical fanlight principal entrance decorated with wood muntins forming interlocking circles. The 6-panel door is flanked with half-length sidelights set over panels. Sash is 6/6 with flanking louvered wood shutters set under semi-elliptical wood fanlights and brick relieving arches on the first story of the principal façade and semi-circular brick recessed arches on the gable end. The fans are replacements of the originals. Four interior end brick chimney stacks have square caps. There is a rear entrance to the main block. The 1-1/2 story wing has clapboard siding, a wood shingle roof and has been largely remodeled. The entrance has transom lights, sash is 6/6, and there is an exterior brick chimney. A modern garage is situated at ground level and there are extensive stonewalls defining landscaping levels.
The property was settled by Hezekiah Porter in 1817, although he came to Thetford perhaps as early as 1806. Porter was born in 1783 in Hebron, Connecticut, where he presumably learned the clothier trade. With his partner Samuel Farnsworth, he rebuilt the grist and saw mills formerly owned by Charles Hopkins and operated them for many years. He also operated carding and fulling mills. Porter operated a brickyard, serving as contractor to Thetford Center Methodist Church, Town Hall and several other brick homes in town dating from the 1820s and 1830s. He married Mary Howard in Thetford in 1807 and had ten children. The property was occupied by Hezekiah's son, Amos P. Porter, on the maps of 1858 and 1877. In 1888, Amos farmed about 200 acres and had 7 cows, 50 Merino sheep and 18 Jersey cattle.
22. A. Wright House (Hargreves), c. 1820. Contributing.
Situated on the east side of Vermont Route 113, this 5x2 bay, Federal style, brick Cape dwelling is oriented with its gable end to the street. It has a modern 1-1/2 story wing and ell. The main block is built in 10-course common bond with an asphalt shingle roof, an interior end chimney and gable dormer on the front slope. The principal entrance has a 4-panel door with transom lights. The 6/6 and 2/2 sash have flanking louvered wood shutters. The eaves are simply detailed with a molded cornice with returns on the gable ends. The modern wing and ell have a modern bay picture window, a 2 car garage and cupola.
The house was occupied on the map of 1858 by A. Wright and in 1877 by T. Burr. In 1888, Mary M. Burr, age 70 and widow of Truman, owned three houses and 7 acres. A house owned by E. H. Porter on maps of 1858 and 1877 just to the north no longer stands.
22A. Corn crib, c. 1830. Contributing.
This 1x2 bay, post and beam structure of one story has vertical board siding. It is notable as one of two structures of this type surviving in the district.
22B. Gazebo, c. 1900. Contributing.
This one story, square plan, wood structure has a hip roof. It is a unique building type in the district.
23. H.M. Coombs House (Betts), c. 1850 and c. 1875. Contributing.
This 2-1/2 story, 'I' house in the Italianate style, notable for its unusually elaborate detail, has an earlier, Gothic Revival style rear ell. Located on the east side of Vermont Route 113, the main block has a balloon framing, a stone foundation, an asphalt shingle roof with interior ridge chimney stacks of brick, and clapboard siding. Articulated with a central front peaked wall dormer, the eaves are supported by paired brackets and the corners are marked by pilasters that have a raised portion in the center, typical of latter 19th century building practice. Sash are paired 8/8 casement set under a molded cornice and with bracketed sills. The façade is distinguished by a fine, Italianate style, hip roofed entrance porch having square columns with paneled pedestals and open arched brackets supporting a denticulated, bracketed cornice. The second story of the porch features a balustrade with decorative, scrollsawn balusters, and square pedestals. The principal entrance has a 4 panel door, half-length sidelights in a molded surround.
The 1-1/2 story rear ell has 6/6 sash with molded cornice caps, twin peaked wall dormers with bracketed cornices, and contains a kitchen and shed portion. Interior wall width indicates that the west end wall adjoining the main block was originally an exterior wall, suggesting an earlier building date for this portion of the existing house.
The residence was occupied by H. M. Coombs in 1858 and by J. Jackman in 1877, according to historic maps. In 1888, Jerome S. Jackman was a farmer on road 40.94. A carriage shop was associated with the property at one time.
24. Village Store (RJ Country Stores, Inc.), moved c. 1895. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, gable front building has a shed roof wing extension and a rear, 1 story, gable roof wing. Situated on the east side of Vermont Route 113, the front façade features a polygonal bay window, modern door, a sheet metal roof and clapboard siding. A shed roofed, 1 story porch has square posts. Sash is modern with the exception of 2/2 sash in the attic story.
The store is said to have originally served as a corn barn for #20 and was moved by George Fifield, who also changed the roofline. It is not evident on maps of 1858 and 1877.
25. Thetford Center School, District #8 (Thetford Center Community Assoc.), 1900. Contributing.
Set on a brick foundation with a sheet metal roof and clapboard siding, this 1-1/2 story, gable front building is situated on the west side of Vermont Route 113 across from the other public buildings in the district: the Methodist Church (#26) and the Town Hall (#28). Built in the vernacular Italianate style, the school was originally 3x4 bays. Small sash have been added c. 1980 on side facades. Articulated with plain cornerboards with brackets at corners, eaves feature a wide frieze and molded cornice. Sash is generally 6/6 with cornice cap moldings and louvered wood shutters. The principal entrance features twin 4-raised panel doors. A cupola on the front of the roof ridge has a pyramidal base, chamfered corner posts, engaged brackets over a louvered wood belfry giving the appearance of round arched openings, and a bracketed hip roof with finial.
The District #8 schoolhouse was built in 1900 for $1318.37, with expenses itemized in the Town Report for that year. The brick building that preceded this school was located further to the shout. In 1906 Thetford Center had the largest enrollment of any of the village schools: 30 in the spring and 27 each in the fall and winter. It had separate toilets with chemical facilities in the basement. Consolidation took place by degrees. In 1940 the 7th and 8th grades went to Post Mills and in 1945 the 6th grade left.
The community Association bought the schoolhouse in 1962 for $750 after it was closed as a school. It was renovated for a community center at the time. The interior has been altered with the opening of the hall and coat rooms into the main room. A kitchen now occupies the entire south side, including the front corner that for years served as the local volunteer library. Blackboards and original lamp globes remain. This outstanding Italianate style building retains its integrity as a former district schoolhouse. Together with the town buildings across Vermont Route 113, the grouping represents the public context of the historic district.
26. Thetford Center Methodist Episcopal Church (Timothy Frost Methodist Church), 1836. Contributing.
An outstanding example of the Gothic Revival style as used for churches in Vermont, this brick, 3x3 bay, gable front church is constructed in 8-course common bond brick with a granite foundation and asphalt shingle roof. Situated on the east side of Vermont Route 113 with a large cemetery (#27) behind, the church, town hall (#28), and former school (#25) embody the public context of the district. Twin principal entrances feature 8-raised panel doors, and half-length sidelights set over panels. The entrances are crowned with partial granite lintels from which spring louvered wood fanlights set in Gothic brick relieving arches with granite keystones. Fenestration features flanking louvered wood shutters and granite sills. The three windows on the second story of the principal façade feature similar pointed-arched louvered fanlights in brick relieving arches. The central window features a stained glass sash set over a sash with 12 lights, while those flanking it have 6/12 sash. The attic story has a louvered arched fanlight with a granite sill and keystone. Large fenestration on side facades feature leaded stained glass with similar articulation. The square base of the bell tower has clock faces, the second stage has pointed arched louvers and it is capped by a hip roof with a balustrade having turned balusters and four pointed, wood finials at the corners.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at Thetford Center was organized in 1836 with 35 members. The church building was constructed in 1836 using brick made in the local brickyard owned by Hezekiah Porter (see #21). Designed to seat 250 persons, it was constructed for the cost of $1,400.
26A. Horse Shed, c. 1840. Contributing.
This 3x1 bay, post and beam structure has vertical board siding and a sheet metal roof. It is significant in the district as the only surviving horse shed in Thetford Center.
27. Evergreen Rest Cemetery (Evergreen Rest Cemetery Trustees), mid-19th century to present. Contributing.
The cemetery is set off from the lots bordering the east side of Vermont Route 113 by an iron fence with decorative "pickets" and the primary access is through a gate behind the town hall. The gravestones are primarily concentrated from the mid to late nineteenth century. Originally concentrated directly behind the church and town hall, the cemetery has expanded to the north. It is naturally set off at the east rear of the steep rise of Meetinghouse Hill. The cemetery became privately owned in 1899.
28. Thetford Town Hall, 1830. Contributing.
This 1 story, 3x4 bay, gable front building is situated net to the Church (#26) and Wallace Memorial (#29), forming a closely related visual unit due to similarity of building materials and site. Constructed in 7-course common bond in the late Federal style, the building has a granite block foundation and an asphalt shingle roof. Front façade openings are set in recessed brick relieving arches. Sash is 2/2 with vertical board shutters. The principal entrance has twin doors having rectangular lights over panels. The molded box cornice returns on the gable front. There is a brick end chimney and an interior chimney. Two rear, 1 story brick vaults with shed roofs were added c. 1965 and 1980.
An important symbol of the civic and public context embodied by the district, the hall was built in 1830 for a cost of $600. Hezekiah Porter served as a contractor and provided bricks for its construction, which was necessitated by the separation of the church and town in 1830 and the sale of the meeting house in Thetford Hill to the church. It originally had perimeter seats and a platform. In 1961, the building was remodeled and town offices were centralized permanently in the town hall from the various private homes where they were historically located.
29. Wallace Memorial Building (Town Vault), 1910. Contributing.
This small (7'x10'), brick memorial vault in the commercial Italianate style has a stone foundation, asphalt shingle roof and small rear wing. The brick false front has a stone cap, corbelling, and decorative rows of brick laid in the dog tooth pattern. A granite stone above the entrance reads "in memory of Richard Wallace. 1753-1833." The heavy metal vault door is sheltered by an Italianate style entrance hood with heavy school-sawn console brackets. Sash is 2/2 set in segmentally arched brick relieving arches. The gable roof has a complete eaves entablature with a molded cornice and an end ridge chimney with a corbelled cap.
This building was constructed to house town records and is named in honor of Thetford's war hero. Richard Wallace, who is famed for his swim in 1777 across Lake Champlain to Mount Independence carrying important messages to the American troops there.
29A. Outhouse (Town of Thetford), c. 1830. Contributing.
Originally associated with the town hall or the earlier jail/pound formerly located in this area, the 1 story, metal gable roofed structure has clapboard siding with plain cornerboards and a rock foundation. It features twin entrances on the north eaves façade, each with two holes. It is significant as the only building of its type remaining in the district.
30. Dexter House, c. 1940. Contributing.
This vernacular, 1-1/2 story house is set into a bank in such a way as to expose the ground level as living space. Clad in clapboards with an asphalt shingle gable roof and interior brick chimney stack, fenestration has paired 6/6 and modern picture sash. An entrance porch and rear shed roofed porch/enclosed room shelter doorways. Granite retaining walls define landscaping levels of the property.
Historic maps indicate that a house owned by I. Seaver occupied the property in 1858 and 1877. A shoe shop may have been situated in the hollow between this house (#30) and the Taylor house (#34).
30A. Barn, c. 1930. Contributing.
This 2-level building features a gambrel roof, novelty siding and a concrete foundation.
31. Thetford Highway Dept. Garage, c. 1970. Non-contributing.
This 1 story building has a gable roof, board and batten siding and 5 garage bays. It was originally built c. 1930, but was rebuilt and enlarged c. 1970. The garage is non-contributing due to age.
32. Moore House, c. 1975. Non-contributing.
This 1 story, ranch style dwelling is set well back from Vermont Route 113 on the west side of the road. It is non-contributing due to age.
33. Lamontagne House, c. 1975. Non-contributing.
This 1 story, ranch style dwelling is set back from Vermont Route 113 on the west side of the road. It is non-contributing due to age.
34. H.D. Taylor House (Hughes), c. 1830. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story Cape Cod dwelling has later alterations (c. 1880) in the Queen Anne style. It has a 1-1/2 story rear ell and a shed roof wing on the north end. Located on a small knoll on the east side of Vermont Route 113, the eaves front is distinguished by several large maple trees. The house has a foundation that is a combination of stone, brick and concrete block, as well as a clapboard siding and an asphalt shingle roof. The principal façade features an early 20th century entrance door with a large light over panels and is covered by a decorative screen door. It is sheltered by a shed-roofed entrance porch with Queen Anne style turned posts. The rear ell also has a Queen Anne style entrance porch added c. 1989. Sash is 2/2 with plain trim: two polygonal bay windows are symmetrically placed on the principal west eaves façade.
According to historic maps, the house was occupied by H. D. Taylor in 1858 and by J. T. Holmes in 1877.
35. Nice House, c. 1938. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, gable-roofed dwelling has a 1 story, gable roofed wing and is located on the west side of Vermont Route 113. It has wood shingle siding, a concrete foundation and an asphalt shingle roof with an interior brick chimney. Articulated with 6/1, paired sash and flanking, vertical board shutters, the principal entrance has a door with a large light over small panels and a multi-light storm door. The south sie entrance features a simple, braced gable entrance hood.
The property appears to have been historically owned by W. Willoughby in 1858, when the "Brick Store" occupied the site.
36. Thetford Auto Service, c. 1965. Non-contributing.
This brick-faced, shed-roofed structure is non-contributing due to age. The first garage for auto repair on the site was built by Hayden Clark c. 1925. It was destroyed by fire twice, after which it was rebuilt first by Clark then by Rodney Palmer.
37. W. Tewksbury House (Palmer), c. 1830. Contributing.
This 5x3 bay Cape Cod dwelling is constructed in 7-course common bond brick and has a frame rear ell. Situated on the east side of Vermont Route 113, it rests on a granite block foundation and has an asphalt shingle roof with interior end chimneys. It is simply articulated with molded cornice returns on the gable ends of the roof. Sash is 6/6 and 2/2. The principal entrance has sidelights. The clapboard rear ell has a 2-bay porch with pierced posts and large openwork brackets.
The property was occupied by W. Tewksbury in 1858 and by Joseph C. Tewksbury in 1877, according to historic maps. William Tewksbury manufactured center and extension tables in a factory first run by James Allen and then by the Sayre Brothers. By 1877, William Tewksbury had moved to #11 in the district, nearer to his mill. In 1888, Joseph Tewksbury farmed 13 acres and bred pure silver spangled Hamburg fowls. He was born in Grafton, New Hampshire, in 1821 and settled in Thetford at the age of 17 years. He owned and operated a sawmill a mile northwest of Thetford Center for a number of years and served as a assistant town clerk for 2 years. The brick dwelling and original barn are important for the retention of original historic integrity.
37A. Barn, c. 1850. Contributing.
This barn has vertical board and asphalt shingle siding, a sheet metal, gable roof and a stone foundation. The twin vertical board doors are set under a multi-light transom with double rows of lights.
38. Mrs. Harris House (Ecker), 1838. Contributing.
Situated on the east side of Vermont Route 113, this 5x1 bay, wood frame Cape dwelling has a concrete-faced foundation, clapboard siding, and a sheet metal roof with a brick ridge chimney. Simply detailed with plain cornerboards, frieze and molded cornice, the bays of the front façade are irregularly spaced, indicating that this may have been a half-cape with the right side added at a later date. Sash is 1/1 with flanking louvered wood shutters. The principal entrance is sheltered by a hip-roofed entrance porch with open posts, scrollsawn brackets and pierced scroll-sawn decorative balustrade that may have been added c. 1875. A shed-roofed garage wing (c. 1940) with 2 overhead doors and asbestos shingle siding projects from the north end.
Historic maps indicate that Mrs. Harris was resident in 1858 and Mrs. J. M. Gove occupied the premises in 1877. A blacksmith shop may have been associated with the property in the mid-nineteenth century.
39. Dr. W. Sweat House (Brown), c. 1855. Contributing.
This outstanding Greek Revival style dwelling with a sidehall entrance has Italianate style detail and is constructed of brick laid in common bond. Located on the east side of Vermont Route 113, a frame rear wing projects from the east end. The dwelling has a granite block foundation and a sheet metal roof. Sash is 2/2 and 6/6 and are framed with granite sills and lintels. A polygonal brick bay window projects from the front façade: a modern picture window replaces original fenestration on the south eaves façade. The sidehall entrance features a 6-panel door configured with bolection molding and 2 small panels at the center with longer panels above and below. A large granite lintel crowns the surround, which was flanking sidelights set over panels.
Historic maps indicate that this was the home of Dr. W. Sweat in 1858 and of T. G. Sanborn in 1877. In 1888, Mary H. Sanborn, widow of Thomas G. and aged 77, was the resident with 30 associated acres of land. The house was built of bricks from a brickyard on the premises. The property presently is used as a residence and houses a nursery business. A small building located across the driveway was occupied as an office by Henry West during his later years as Town Clerk from 1873 until his death in 1912. The building was later moved to Post Mills.
39A. Garage, c. 1980. Non-contributing.
This modern garage is non-contributing due to age.
39B. Shed, c. 1980. Non-contributing.
This modern shed is non-contributing due to age.
40. Malpino House, 1960. Non-contributing.
This modern Cape residence has a rear ell and is located on the west side of Vermont Route 113. It is non-contributing due to age.
40A. Garage, 1960. Non-contributing.
This garage is non-contributing due to age.
41. T. G. Sanborn House (King & Richardson), c. 1850. Contributing.
A fine example of a Greek Revival style Classic Cottage, this 5x2 bay dwelling has an Italianate style entrance porch and two rear ells. Situated on the east side of Vermont Route 113, the house rests on a stone foundation and has clapboard siding and a sheet metal, gable roof with an exterior end chimney. It is simply articulated with plain cornerboards, a wide watertable, and a wide frieze and molded cornice that returns on gable ends. Sash is 2/2 with flanking louvered wood shutters. The Italianate style entrance porch has chamfered square columns and scrollsawn brackets at the eaves. A rear 1-1/2 story ell has an asphalt shingle gable roof and is post and beam with a braced opening. A 1 story, shed roofed rear ell has vertical board siding and a large, open bay.
This appears to be the location of T. G. Sanborn on the map of 1858, with N.I. Howard the occupant on the map of 1877. It appears that by 1877, T. G. Sanborn had moved to the property to the north (#39). In 1888, Newton I. Howard was a stone mason and farmer of 60 acres in Thetford Center.
42. J. B. Clough House (Distinctive Properties, Inc.), c. 1845. Contributing.
This Greek Revival style Classic Cottage dwelling has a 1-1/2 story, gable front, side ell and is located on the east side of Vermont Route 113. The 5x2 bay house has a brick-faced stone foundation, an asphalt shingle roof with an interior brick chimney stack, and a clapboard siding. A long, shed-roofed dormer has been added to the front slope of the roof c. 1980. Articulated with plain cornerboards, watertable and simple eaves, the recessed principal entrance is the major Greek Revival style reference. The surround of this recessed entrance with flanking half-length sidelights over panels has symmetrical molding and corner blocks. Sash is 2/2, with aluminum storm sash and some louvered wood shutters. The c. 1980 shed dormer has a small oculus. A porch (now removed) with heavily articulated architectural detail originally characterized the eaves' front façade. The ell features a hip-roofed entrance porch with square posts and a shed wall dormer, a shed and garage bay.
According to the maps of 1858 and 1877, the property was occupied by J. B. Clough. In 1858 it also served as the Post Office. The foundation of the former barn has been rebuilt as a swimming pool.
43. Thayer's Tavern and Store (Dumfey), c. 1780. Contributing.
This 2-1/2 story, vernacular Georgian style house of 5x4 bays has a 2 story rear ell and 1 story shed roofed wing. Built on the west side of Vermont Route 113 at the corner of Union Village Road, it originally served as a tavern and is probably the oldest building in the district. Portions of the perimeter of the property along Union Village Road are marked with stone fence posts. Overgrown fields cover the rear of the property which borders the Ompompanoosuc River. The gable roof of the main block is clad with asphalt shingles and has a brick, interior ridge chimney. The house exhibits clapboard siding and a granite block foundation. Articulated with plain cornerboards, simple watertable and a box cornice with returns, the principal entrance has half-length sidelights and a plain surround with a simple cornice cap molding. Sash is generally 6/6 with flanking wood shutters on the main block, where there is also a bay window over the shed roofed side porch. The side porch features square posts and protects the side entrance. The rear, gable roofed ell and 12/12 sash and an entrance. A 1 story shed-roofed wing projects from the rear of the main block.
One of the oldest surviving buildings in Thetford, it was an established tavern in 1784. It is the store and house owned by C. Thayer on the Whitelaw map of 1796. The exterior of the main block reflects mid-19th century alterations, especially in the fenestration. The interior remains largely intact. During the first portion of the 19th century, it served as a store as well as stagecoach stop operated by Mrs. George Harvey. On the map of 1858, it was a hotel and store owned by B. Lang and c. 1870 it was owned by J. B. Cram and known as Cram's Hotel. Cram was part owner of the nearby strawboard factory, Noosuc Mills (#48B), with Brown (#5) and Gleason (#44) from 1866 until after 1870. By 1877 the house was known as C.D. Lucas' residence, store, hall, and Post Office. In 1888, Charles D. Lucas was a general merchant in Thetford Center, where he farmed 175 acres and bred Shorthorn Durham cattle, of which he owned 14 head. He was born in Boston, M.A. and had settled in Thetford c. 1850. A former barn with a spring board floor on the property was utilized as a dance hall known as the "Eldorado."
43A. Related barn/garage, c. 1800. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story building has a stone foundation, clapboard siding and an asphalt shingle, gable roof. Constructed in 2x3 bay, post and beam, it has an open center bay, a sliding vertical board door, fixed 12 light sash and 6/6 sash. The Beers map of 1877 indicates that this outbuilding may have been attached to a rear ell of the house.
44. Judge Samuel M. Gleason House (Fabricant), 1861. Contributing.
This outstanding example of the Italianate style is sited prominently on the south corner of Vermont Route 113 and Buzzell Bridge Road. Open maintained fields extend to the south along the road where a pond has recently been excavated. The 1-1/2 story, 2x2 bay main block has a 2 story ell on the west side and a 1 story ell on the southeast side. The hip roof is covered with asphalt shingles, siding is clapboard and the foundation is stone. Articulated with corner quoining and full eaves entablature with a modillioned cornice, sash is 2/2 with bracketed sills, elaborate, denticulated cornice cap moldings, and flanking louvered wood shutters. The hip-roofed entrance porch sheltering twin leaved doors with arched lights has square columns with open spandrels supported by consoles and an elaborate entablature with consoles, brackets and dentils. A brick interior chimney rises from the roof, as does a belvedere having louvered openings, pilasters and a denticulated cornice. The 1-1/2 story ell has a long shed dormer on the front façade as well as a c. 1980 one story porch having paneled posts with consoles, brackets, denticulated cornice, turned balusters and open polygonal turret marking the corner where the porch wraps around the ell. The 1 story, hip-roofed ell has corner pilasters and an entrance porch with arches having open spandrels.
The more stylistically "correct" nature of the ornament and plan of this exceptional example of the Italianate style distinguishes this design from the more prevalent vernacular, derivative examples in the area. On the map of 1858, the property was occupied by G.W. Tobins, with two buildings in evidence and located further along the road than the present house. In 1877, Judge Samuel M. Gleason was the resident, with the map noting that M. Goodwin settled here in 1861. Presumably, the replacement house was built for Goodwin. In 1888, Hon. Samuel M. Gleason was judge of probate, master in chancery, attorney at law and owner of 46 acres. Gleason manufactured strawboard with H. E. Brown (#5) and Joseph Cram (#43) at the nearby Noosuc Mills (#49B) from 1866 until after 1870.
44A. Carriage Barn/Garage/Apartment, c. 1870. Contributing.
This two level building has a stone foundation, board and batten siding and an asphalt shingle roof with a cupola having louvered openings, a bracketed cornice and cock weathervane. The barn is further articulated with plain cornerboards, 6/6 sash, a hay door, large garage/barn doors and an exterior staircase leading to a small apartment.
45. A. Poor House (Hunter), c. 1850. Contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, sidehall Greek/Gothic Revival style home with an ell is situated on a high hill facing south down the Ompompanoosuc River valley. The present road passes behind the building, although the original road passed in front (south) of the house and between the related barn, which faces the house to the south. Set above a brick foundation, the 3x5 bay house has clapboard siding and a sheet metal roof with a brick ridge chimney. Articulated with plain cornerboards, the house has a simple frieze and simple cornice molding with a wide eaves overhang. Sash is 6/6 with flanking louvered wood shutters. The recessed principal entrance has 7/8 length sidelights. The west slope of the roof of the main block has a shed dormer. The ell features a peaked wall dormer, one of the few remaining references to its original Gothic Revival style since the ornate porch that once graced both facades of the ell was removed in 1988. An enclosed shed-roofed addition where the porch formerly stood has a picture window, an entrance with sidelights, an enclosed glass bay and an entrance that utilizes a portion of the decorative openwork arches from the original porch. The gable end of the ell features a garage opening.
The house and barn were owned by A. Poor on the map of 1858. The homestead served briefly as the parsonage of the Thetford Center Church. Charles and Charlotte Vaughan (#10) where her husband had developed an electric generating plant (sic). The laundry primarily served Camp Hanoum, a nearby private girls camp, with the washing done in the ell and the ironing in the main barn.
45A. Related Barn/Office, c. 1850. Contributing.
This 2x3 bay, post and beam bank barn has an ell that has been rehabilitated as an office. The main barn has 2/2 sash, a sliding barn door, vertical board siding and a sheet metal roof. The ell has a wood shingle roof with ridge chimney and board and batten siding. The former barn entrance has been transformed into windows, with the sliding barn door shortened to cover the fenestration.
46. D. & R. Fifield House, c. 1983. Non-contributing.
This 1-1/2 story, log home was constructed c. 1983 and is non-contributing due to age. The property contains several non-permanent greenhouses. It was originally part of the land associated with #42 in the district.
47. D. & M. Fifield House, 1968/1972. Non-contributing.
The main block of this house is an "A-frame" built in 1968, with a gable-roofed ell addition built in 1972. Associated with the property are two sheds (#47A). All buildings are non-contributing due to age. The associated property, once part of #42 in the district, reveals field patterns and stone walls. In a meadow to the northeast are the remains of a brick and wood arched culvert, indicating a different road alignment than that which exists at this time.
48. Graham Cottage, c. 1938. Contributing.
This 1 story, gable-roofed camp has an 'H' plan and a related garage. Set on a rolling hill overlooking the Ompompanoosuc River Valley to the southwest, the land to the south remains in open fields patterns. The residence has a cobblestone foundation, clapboard siding and an asphalt shingle roof with a large, brick, exterior chimney stack. Articulated with exposed rafter tails and plain cornerboards, sash 6/6, fixed, and 4/4 paired sash with flanking solid wood shutters. The south façade features paired 15 light doors overlooking a stone deck.
48A. Garage, c. 1938. Contributing.
This 1 story, gable-roofed building is situated at the rear of the cottage to the west, with the gable end facing south. The finished room at the ground level of the south end is heated by a large stone chimney and capitalizes on the fine view south down the river valley with a polygonal bay window. Set on a cobblestone foundation, with clapboard siding and an asphalt shingle roof, the garage has two overhead doors that pierce the east eaves façade, where there are also 12 pass-sized doors. A workroom occupies the northern end of the building at the garage level.
The landscaping elements of the accompanying property are typical of the period and reflect an Adirondack style influence, which is also somewhat evidence in the buildings. A stone/concrete fountain located to the north of the residence features a metal relief panel with a nautical motif. The original access on the Union Village Road has Adirondack style cobblestone gateposts, as does the access in the close proximity to the cottage. The present road from Vermont Route 113 was constructed in 1986 when the original access was restricted by the Army Corps of Engineers after their purchase of the road and riverside property for the Union Village Reservoir. A circle of evergreen trees on a knoll south of the cottage marks the spot where visitors gather in a camp circle, while a row of hemlocks along the edge of the steep slope to the northwest serves to shelter the property from the prevailing winds. The property is a significant representative of the vacation cottage, or "camp," that became widespread in the state during the first part of the 20th century. It is the sole example of this building type in the district.
49. Buzzell Bridge Road Farm/Residence/Industrial Site Complex
This area on the east bank of the Ompompanoosuc River was cleared of buildings by the Army Corps of Engineers for their Union Village Flood Control Dam constructed in 1950. The Buzzell Bridge Road (also known as the Union Village Road) formerly connected Thetford Center with the thriving Union Village. Several extensive farm sites and the site of a large woolen mill are situated south of the boundary of the district. The complex is important for its potential to yield prehistoric and historic archaeological remains and centers around the former location: the Noosuc Mill on the river.
49A. Willoughby/Gove Farm Complex Site, c. 1820. Contributing.
About 1940 the farmstead was comprised of a Cape type dwelling with interior end chimneys with a 1 story wing and barn wing projecting to the south and a free-standing gable roofed barn with the gable side to the road (west) a short distance to the south. Physical evidence today reveals a tall pine, and a foundation depression covered with lilies, lilacs and other traditional foundation plantings. This site may have been greatly disturbed by road reconstruction after a washout in 1984. Located on the west side of Union Village Road, the original field patterns are evident in the landscape that has begun to revert to brush. A portion of the land between the site and the river has been excavated for gravel. A permanent stream just to the south of the site of the barn runs into the Ompompanoosuc River just below (south of) the farmstead site. This area of confluence has been identified as having moderate potential to yield a prehistoric archaeological site as an alluvial terrace/floodplain.
The farmstead was occupied by Lorenzo G. Willoughby on the map of 1858 and by E. Gove on the map of 1877. John Tilton, a skilled blacksmith, lived here at the time of the dam construction in 1950, with a shop across Buzzell Bridge Road.
49B. Noosuc Mills Industrial Site, 1848 - c. 1875. Contributing.
This site has a long stone wall, varying from 4-7' high and approximately 110' long with partially collapsed walls. A large amount of domestic debris covering part of the foundation in 1985 may have been associated with nearby houses. There is a probable location of a wheel pit on the southwest portion of the site. The land on which the industrial site is located is identified as having medium potential to yield prehistoric archaeological sites as an alluvial terrace/floodplain.
The Noosuc Mill was built in 1848 by Stephen G. Rogers. Ownership passed c. 1866 to Horace Brown (#5), S. M. Gleason (#44), and J. B. Cram (#43) (all nearby residents of Thetford Center village) when Rogers built a woolen mill downstream. The mill was acquired in 1872 by W. J. and H. M. Lovejoy, who ran it until it was destroyed by fire before 1875. The mill manufactured strawboard, binder's board for book covers and coarse brown wrapping paper. Strawboard was used under clapboards as insulation and was made of a mixture of chopped straw and waste paper. The strawboard was first laid on the ground to dry until a per ton of the strawboard (sic). The fall of water at this point of the river is estimated to be 10' as compared to the 45' upstream near the covered bridge. On the map of 1877, S. G. Rogers and Son are indicated as generating waterpower here of 50 horsepower. Two nearby houses (#49C and #49D) were historically associated with the mill.
49C. Davis/Rogers House Site, c. 1850. Contributing.
This site may have been disturbed during road rebuilding after a washout in 1984. Only plant growth marks the area where this dwelling stood. More examination would be required to determine if subsurface remains are extant. The area surrounding the house are fields grown in to brush.
This dwelling was occupied by N. Davis on the map of 1858 and by S. G. Rogers and Son (owner of the nearby water power, factory burned 1875, see #49B) on the map on 1877. John and Maria McClary lived here in the 20th century.
49D. Rogers House Site, c. 1850. Contributing.
It is unclear whether remains described under #49E belong to this site or as presented. The exact located on this house, which is shown on historic maps, has not been determined. There are not any remains that have been identified. The site is the home of S. G. Rogers on the map of 1858 and, with #49C, may have served as a tenement for the mill at one time. According to the map of 1877, T. C. Morse was the resident. In 1888, Thomas C. Morse, a dyer, lived on road 32 and was a farmer of 5 acres. This house did not survive long into the 20th century. A large barn in which waste paper and rye straw were stored for the mill was associated with the property.
49E. M. F. Southworth/T.D. Francis House Site, c. 1840. Contributing.
A partially filled depression measuring approximately 10'x12' is situated amid a grove of black locust trees, which were a historically favored planting. A dump behind the depression reveals such things as cans, enamelware bowls, willow ware, ironstone, and gold embossed china. The site is very overgrown and is located almost directly across from the now unused stone entrance gates to #48 above described as Hanna Cottage.
The house was occupied on the map of 1858 by M. F. Southworth. On the map of 1877, it was occupied by T. D. Francis. In 1888, Thomas D. Francis resided on road 33, was a butcher, meat dealer, farmer of 44 acres and leased 110 acres from H. E. Brown. Occupants of the 20th century include Hattie and Urbin Rowell, Robinson, and Levi and Albino Levine. The house was abandoned at the time of the taking for the dam.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Thetford Center Historic District is significant under criteria A and C for its architectural, agricultural and industrial importance. The district began its development at the end of the 18th century with a grist mill and sawmills harnessing the waterpower of the forty-foot falls on the Ompompanoosuc River. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the number of small industries grew and the industrial buildings changed owners many times to create a complex mosaic of cultural, social, and commercial interactions. The various industries stimulated the growth of the village of Thetford Center primarily in the first half of the 19th century. During this period, a tavern, school, church, cemeteries and town hall were constructed, as were residences for the mill owners and workers, many of whom were also farmers. Although the industries now survive only as manufacturing sites, Thetford Center is architecturally significant today for its numerous well-preserved examples of the Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate styles. The period of significance for the district terminates at 1947, the 50-year cut-off.
The Town of Thetford was one of sixty towns chartered by Governor Benning Wentworth in 1761, in the name of George III. The first known settlement in the town occurred in 1764 when John Chamberlain wintered in East Thetford. At a 1768 proprietor's meeting, land was offered to potential saw mill operators. As a result, John (or Jonathan) Strong built a saw and gristmill in East Thetford, the nucleus for that village, and David Avery set a mill on Zebedee Brook near John Chamberlain's and the first Thetford farms. Col. Alexander Phelps was given land for a mill on the falls of the Ompompanoosuc, at what is now Thetford Center. Isaac Fellows subsequently took over the land and in 1772 John Strong built a grist mill and later, a saw mill. Previous to the establishment of a local grist mill, Thetford's settlers had to transport grain as far away as Charlestown, New Hampshire, or to the falls on the Ottauquechee River in Hartford, Vermont. By the time of the Revolutionary War at least fifty families from Connecticut and New Hampshire had settled in the eastern part of Thetford. By 1791 Thetford had 862 inhabitants and 159 families.
Like other Vermont and New England communities, Thetford grew with the mills. By the start of the 19th century, water-powered mills on several sites along the Ompompanoosuc had created the nuclei for the villages of Thetford. Eventually the town had seven villages: Thetford, East Thetford, North Thetford, Thetford Center, Post Mills, Rice Mills, Union Village, and later, Ely. The early generations of residents were mostly subsistence farmers, with the majority of settlers' needs such as food and clothing provided on the farm. It was during this early time that the dispersed, rural settlement pattern of farms was established. Some of the residences in the Thetford Center Historic District were originally part of farms of various sizes and represents the connections of these resources with Criteron A and the Agriculture area of significance. The variety of extant agricultural outbuildings in the district is testament to the ongoing importance of agriculture to the local economy.
The village of Thetford Center began to take shape in the late 18th century. During this early period the road to Thetford Hill, now Route 113, was somewhat differently routed and remained unimproved. An 18th century brick and hardened-down wood culvert marks its passage over Hosford land, now the Fifield's vegetable garden (#43). Thayer's Tavern, also known as the Lang Hotel (#43) was built in 1780 at the corner of the village street and the original road to Union Village. The majority of residences in the village including impressive brick Federal style houses and more modest Cape Cods and Classic Cottages, were constructed between 1820 and 1860. The Thetford Center Covered Bridge was constructed c. 1840. (listed in the National Register 9/17/1974).
Throughout the 19th century, mills along the river produced income and provided employment for Thetford Center residents. The original wild and scenic nature of the falls was altered by the addition of three dams and numerous industries. One of the three dams is still on the site; others are marked by a wheel pit and an iron pin. About 1826, Hiram Bronson Sloane was the first wheelwright in Thetford, with a shop at the Great Falls complex. A potato starch mill was begun in 1847 by Ziba Fletcher. Royal Hammond Smith manufactured musical instruments during the 1840s. Both H. F. Walton's 1858 and F. W. Beers' 1877 maps show mills which can also be seen in early photographs. The 1858 map shows seven different buildings at the falls housing industrial operations. When mills burned or industries closed, they were rebuilt or replaced by other ventures. Over the years, the mill buildings accommodated a number of industries: starch mills, blacksmith's shops, furniture shops, scythe and ax factories, carriage makers, sash and blind factories, a shoe factory, a cooper shop, strawboard mills, trip-hammer shops and electric generating plants. Many mill and shop workers lived near the mill.
In addition to the mill area at Great Falls, other industries developed down river where the Noosuc Mill, built in 1848 by Stephen G. Rogers, continued under other local owners until it burned in 1875. The mill imported scrap paper, which was turned into coarse brown wrapping paper, binder board, and strawboard using chopped straw and paper. Strawboard was used as insulation in local houses.
The railroad came to Thetford between 1846 and 1849. At first, better transportation assisted the wool industry but after the Civil War, the market ended and Vermont wool business gave way to the West. Dairy products and the strawboard were shipped to market by rail; wood was sold to stoke the engines. Gristmills, sawmills and the furniture business continued to prosper and employ people.
Economic diversity spurred the growth of the community during the initial settlement period and local residents often performed a number of occupations and services. In many cases, original farm settlers also owned local mills. While the individual accomplishments of many of the village's inhabitants are unknown to us today, some residents stand out. A particularly industrious local citizen was Hezekiah Porter, who established a carding and fulling mill in 1806, operated grist and saw mills, designed his own house (#21), operated a brickyard and acted as contractor for the Church, Town Hall and several other homes in the 1820s and 1830s. Stephen A. Fish was a prominent 19th century cabinetmaker at Thetford Center (1862-1883) who had his home on Tucker Hill Road (#13) and his cabinet shop on the river. A signed piece of Fish's work is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. William Tewksbury (who lived at #11) manufactured chairs and tables in a river mill from 1874 until 1882. From 1883 to the first decade of the 20th century, Charles Wesley, and Charles and Oramel Sayre manufactured center and extension tables of cherry, birch, and ash, as well as ironing boards, rolling pins and wooden mop-wringers. From 1912 to almost 1920, Charles Vaughan converted the former grist mill into an electric generating plant.
Over the years, in addition to residential and industrial buildings, a number of public buildings were constructed at the village center. The Thetford Town Hall (#28) was constructed with brick from Hezekiah Porter's brickyard in 1830 when the separation of church and state required that town meetings leave the Thetford Hill Church. It is one of the early town halls built in Vermont. The Thetford Center Methodist Church (#26) was organized win 1836 and the same year the congregation built the present Gothic Revival Church, also of Porter bricks. In 1895, George Fifield opened the village store and post office (#24) next to the church. The Thetford Center School (#25) was constructed in 1900 across from the other town buildings, on a site which had long housed the village school. The Wallace Memorial Building (#29) was constructed adjacent to the town hall in 1910 to store town records. The building is named after Richard Wallace, Thetford's Revolutionary hero and early pioneer, who swam across Lake Champlain with messages from Fort Ticonderoga to Mount Independence. Two cemeteries were established to service the village - Tucker Hill Cemetery (#18) was established in 1786, followed in the mid 19th century by the Evergreen Rest Cemetery (#27).
By the early 20th century, Thetford's industrial focus had lessened considerably. A grist mill was in operation at the falls until about 1912 and the electric generating plant operated until about 1920, later occupied by a laundry until 1946. New opportunities in the form of tourism helped fill the void left by waning industry. In Thetford, as elsewhere in the state, vacation cottages or "camps" were erected during the first part of the 20th century.
About 1950 most of the formerly industrial sites on the river in proximity to the covered bridge were acquired by the Army Corps of Engineers, as part of the Union Village dam project. A number of industrial buildings were dismantled although dry stone walls, which were once part of mill foundations, are still visible. Since that time, the Great Falls of the Ompompanoosuc have returned to their natural state and are one of the last free-flowing falls in the state in the center of a rural village. In 1974, the Thetford Center Covered Bridge (#9), a Herman Haupt patented bridge, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Town pride and cooperation saved the bridge in 1969 from being displaced by a metal span. Instead, girders were placed beneath on a third pier. The wooden substructure remains the same and is kept in repair by the Thetford Center Community Association and the Town. In recent years, the Friends of the Ompompanoosuc defended the Great Falls area from a hydroelectric dam and have joined other agencies to nominate the river from the covered bridge to the Union Village Dam as an outstanding resource water. This area and the old mill sties are property of the Army Corps of Engineers who protect and care for archaeological, recreational and natural resources.
With few exceptions, the buildings of the district predate the Civil War. The earliest building in the district, constructed c. 1780, is Thayer's Store and Tavern (#43), a 2-1/2 story, clapboarded structure displaying a Georgian plan and sparse ornament limited to a box cornice and a plain door surround. Characteristic of the Georgian style, the house displays a five-bay façade with double-hung 6/6 windows which replace an earlier 12/12 sash, examples of which survive on the ell. Built in 1822, the Hezekiah Porter House (#21) is an outstanding example of the Federal style, designed by Porter for his own use and constructed of bricks made in his brickyard. The 2 ½ story, brick building has a Georgian plan and is embellished by semi-elliptical louvered fans above the first floor windows while over the center entrance there is a semi-elliptical fanlight containing delicate tracery in a pattern of intersecting circles. On the gable and there are semi-circular brick recessed arches on the second floor. The John B. Moore House (#5A) is another 2 ½-story, brick dwelling with a Georgian plan and Federal style detailing, constructed c. 1820 with subsequent alterations c. 1865. The first floor windows are set in recessed semi-elliptical arches with wood infill; second floor windows display stone lintels. Of note are the flushboard pediments which suggest a Greek Revival-style influence. Within the district, the Federal style was also used for public buildings, as illustrated by the Thetford Town Hall (#28), a brick gablefront building erected by Hezekiah Porter with bricks made at his brickyard. Constructed in 1830, the building is a late and utilitarian example of the style, its simple ornament limited to recessed brick relieving arches on the three façade openings. Original windows have been replaced by 2/2 sash.
There are several early residences within the district that display a 1 ½ story, Cape Cod form and little stylistic ornament. The Wright House (#22) is a brick Cape constructed c. 1820 with a transomed center entry, simple eaves detailing and 6/6 sash. The Matson House (#6) is of a similar construction date and also displays a transomed center entry although other alterations have been more numerous.
The most prevalent architectural style in the district, the Greek Revival style, is visible in various vernacular manifestations throughout the village. The most basic evidence of the style is the transition from five-bay, broad-sided facades with central entrances to gablefront structures with sidehall plane. Within the district there are several 1 ½ story, gablefront Greek Revival residences with three-bay facades. The Messer House (#4A), constructed c. 1840, displays a recessed sidehall entrance with half length sidelights and a molded enframement with cornerblocks and a central, rectangular panel. Here, as on the Burr House (#19), plain cornerboards give rise to cornice returns on the gablefront. Transitional Greek Revival structures bearing the imprint of other contemporary mid-19th century styles include the Greek/Gothic Revival Poor House (#45). Attached to the 1 ½-story sidehall plan house with full sidelights is a lateral ell featuring a peaked wall dormer. An ornate Gothic Revival porch was removed in 1988 although a single openwork arch remains. Combining elements of the Greek Revival with the Italianate, the Porter House (#20) built in 1855, has a sidehall entrance with full sidelights and a full entablature decorated by paired brackets. The brick Sweat House (#39), constructed c. 1855, is unusual for its four-bay, wide gablefront which includes a recessed, sidehall entrance with partial sidelights, typical of the Greek Revival style, and a single-story, three-sided bay window, popular during the Italianate period.
Vernacular Greek Revival detailing also embellishes several Cape structures. The Sloane House (#14) is a clapboarded Cape with a central recessed entrance set in a fluted surround with corner blocks and partial sidelights. The molded cornice returns on the gable ends. The Tewksbury House (#37) is a brick Cape constructed c. 1830. Its ornament is limited to full sidelights flanking the central entrance and shallow cornice returns on the gable ends. The Howe House (#1A) is another example of a c. 1835 clapboarded Cape.
The Classic Cottage, a variation on the Cape Cod form and characterized by a higher kneewall above the first floor, is visible in no less than five examples in the district, ornamented with classical details commonly used in the Greek Revival style. The Carr House (#12), constructed c. 1835, is a brick Classic Cottage, unusual for its two identically-detailed entrances facing east and west. Each surround displays half sidelights, fluted trim, corner blocks, patera and a central rectangular panel. The Fish House (#13), next door is a clapboarded Classic Cottage which also displays partial sidelights and a symmetrical surround with cornerblocks and a molded, central rectangular panel. The Sanborn House (#41) combines the Classic Cottage form with an Italianate style entrance porch, supported by chamfered posts. Other examples of Greek Revival Classic Cottages include the Bosworth House (#11) and the Clough House (#42). A somewhat later example (1909) is the Clark House (#16).
Constructed in 1836, the Thetford Center Methodist Episcopal Church (#26) is an outstanding example of the Gothic Revival style, conceived in brick. Marking a transition from the Federal style, the louvered fans over the windows are in the shape of pointed arches, partial sidelights flank the two portals on the gablefront and windows contain 6/12 sash. Pointed arch fans punctuate the square belfry while wooden pinnacles rise from the corners. Elements of the Gothic Revival style were also used to update earlier buildings. On the Harris House (#38), c. 1838 clapboarded Cape were updated c. 1875 by new porches with pierced posts and jigsawn brackets and balusters.
While the influence of the Italianate style can be seen in a number of district buildings, the Judge Samuel Gleason House (#44) is the most ornate and well developed example. Constructed in 1861, the house displays a characteristic box-like form, outlined by corner quoining and modillioned cornice. It is caped by a shallow hip roof with belvedere. The entrance consists of double doors with arched lights and is sheltered by a porch supported by square columns with an elaborate entablature of consoles, brackets and dentils. Another well-preserved example of the Italianate style is the c. 1875 Coombs House (#23), a 2 ½ story, I-house with an Italianate style entrance porch supported by square posts on pedestals with open arched brackets. Paired brackets decorate the projecting eaves including the façade's central wall dormer and the wall dormer on the earlier Gothic Revival style ell. Italianate style details also decorate the Thetford Center School (#25), including the front cupola framed by chamfered corner posts with engaged brackets at the corners. The building's projecting eaves feature a wide frieze and molded cornice with brackets at the cop of the plain cornerboards. Constructed in 1910, the Wallace Memorial Building (#29) is a small, brick building with burrows its form from the Italianate style commercial block. The brick falsefront is embellished by corbelling and brick laid in a decorative dog tooth pattern. Scrollsawn console brackets support the pedimented entry and windows are segmentally arched.
With the exception of the School and the Memorial Building, there was little building activity in Thetford Center between the Civil War and the 1930s. Limited improvements such as porches were made to earlier houses, as was the case with the Harris House (#38) and the Taylor House (#34). The Village Store (#24) was moved to its present location c. 1895 and is thought to have been constructed from a former corn barn. The structures constructed in the early 20th century do not generally adhere to any particular style. The Nice House (#35) is a wood-shingled, side gable building constructed c. 1938; the Paige House (#2A) was constructed in 1933. The buildings on the Hanna Property (#48) were constructed c. 1938 and reflect an Adirondack Rustic Style influence that is evident in the cobblestone foundations and gateposts.
Thetford Center continues to evolve today. Buildings which are non-contributing to the district due to their date of construction including Thetford Auto Service (#36), constructed in 1965, and the Highway Department Garage (#31), dating to about 1970. There are several residences of recent construction (#32, 33, 40, 46, 47); almost all of these are set back from Route 113. The twentieth century has also brought changes to the character of the land within the district. In some cases the agricultural land behind houses on the east side of the village street has decreased, except for specific meadows or pastures. Meetinghouse Hill, once a pasture, now presents a heavily forested backdrop to the church and town hall.
Thetford Center is significant as a unified and cohesive village center which has evolved over more than two hundred years. The buildings of architectural beauty and historical interest, taken with the open vistas, comprise a village unity. Falls sites on the Ompompanoosuc River reveal an industrial history which is no longer extant today. The church, town hall and store continue to serve their original functions in a community which is proud of its village.
MAJOR BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES
Amestoy, Jeffery & Charles Magraw. "Request for Rehearing by the State of Vermont and Friends of the Ompompanoosuc to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission." Project #9085-000. Montpelier, Vt.: Office of the Attorney General. June 5, 1989.
Cassedy, Daniel F. "FERC #9085: Phase I Archaeological Survey, Grant Falls Hydro Project. Thetford Center, VT." Cornish, N.H.: Freeman Hill Assoc., 1987.
Child, Hamilton. Gazetteer & Business Directory of Orange County, VT. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse Journal Co., 1888.
Fifield, Gary. "The Charles Vaughan Electric Co." Unpublished typescript on file at the Thetford Historical Society. Thetford, Vermont.
Fifield, Marian. "Thetford's Richard Wallace: He Swam for Freedom." Times, 16 May 1986: 16.
Hughes, Charles W. The Mills and Villages of Thetford, VT. Thetford, Vt.: Thetford Historical Society, 1992.
Latham, Charles Jr. A Short History of Thetford, VT. 1761-1870. White River Junction, Vt.: Right Printing Co., Inc., 1984.
Paige, Helen Savary. Tales of Thetford. Hanover, N.H.: X-Press Services, Inc., 1978.
Thomas, Peter A. and Marie L. Bourassa. "Cultural Resource Management Study, Union Village Dam, Thetford, VT." Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, Department of Anthropology, 1986.
United Opinion. January 4, 1895.
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. "Thetford Historic Sites and Structures Survey." Monpelier, Vt.: 1979.
FORM PREPARED BY:
Deborah Noble, Preservation Consultant; Lisa Mausolf, Preservation
Deborah Noble Associates
P.O. Box 106, Concord VT 05824 802-695-2507
20 Terrace Park, Reading, MA 01867 617-942-2173
February 1993; September 1997
DATE ENTERED: 5 March 98
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