West Newbury Village Historic District

Site: V16-192
Municipality: Newbury, VT
Location: West Newbury village
Site Type: Historic District
Vt Survey No: --
UTMs: (Zone 18)
A. 730290/4882900.
B. 730520/4882400.
C. 730270/4882320.
D. 730120/4882710.
E. 730200/4882940.
National Register Nomination Information:


The West Newbury Village Historic District, geographically isolated by surrounding hills, is comprised of 14 primary generally wood-frame structures dating from the early 19th through early 20th centuries. The basically linear layout of the village is dominated by the 1833 Federal style Union Meeting House (#4). A former school, (#7), a former commercial building (#13), and numerous residences and outbuildings complete the well-preserved, small-scale Vermont villagescape.

The village of West Newbury, Vermont is located in the southern part of the Town of Newbury almost equidistant between the Newbury-Topsham town line and the Connecticut River. With an elevation of approximately 940', the village is surrounded by hills which serve to isolate it from the more populous sections of the town. Two roads, Tucker Mountain Road (Town Highway 6) and Snake Road (State Aid Highway 1) form a T and help dictate the village boundaries. In addition, part of the primary road, Snake Road, runs along a ridge which confines the village to the flatter land southwest of the ridge. While this ridge may have contributed to limiting the village's growth, an impressive view of the distant White Mountains and intervening valleys is offered in return.

Although the first settlers arrived in this part of town in the 1770's, the Historic District buildings now postdate the eighteenth century and largely reflect conservative architectural styles of the nineteenth century. The layout of the village is essentially linear with most of the buildings clustered along the stretch of Snake Road which runs south. Composed of 21 buildings, the district is visually and symbolically dominated by the Union Meeting House (#4). Built in 1833, the meeting house rests on a prominent incline, drawing attention by means of its size and verticality while simultaneously registering as the spiritual center of the village. The earliest extant buildings are two Cape Cod style houses (#1 and #2) which are believed to have been built in the 1820s. Although both houses are simplistic in plan and form, the Smith-Kidder House (#1) is especially noteworthy for its vernacular, yet stylish, cornice.

Like the rest of the town of Newbury, West Newbury embraced the Greek Revival style which was tremendously popular during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Two houses in particular, the H. Smith House (#11) and the Scales-Giroux House (#14), exhibit the exquisitely simple designs and functional proportions characteristic of this style. The H. Smith House (#11) is noteworthy for its entrance; the carpenter responsible for the Greek fret surround must have been inspired by the patterns found in Asher Benjamin's well-known guidebooks. The Scales-Giroux House (#14), also a gable front like the H. Smith House, is bolder in its appearance. The broad facade is divided into three levels with the number of bays ascending in a 5-3-1 pattern. Detail is simple yet pronounced: wide, plain boards outline the corners, sill, frieze, and door surround.

While the sum of buildings in West Newbury reflects the modest scale and design typical of a farming community, the Tyler Farms (#10 and #11) illustrates the evolution of a farm property. Counting the original house (#11), its ell and outbuildings, there are eight components which altogether exemplify that system of building known as "continuous architecture". Individually, each of these structures displays a particular style and purpose, and innovations representative of its era.

The West Newbury Village Historic District is now largely residential. The old Eastman-Tyler Store (#13), in operation for about 130 years, is now an apartment building and the schoolhouse (#7) was closed in 1970 when the Oxbow Union School was built. And yet, while the village has always been in a state of subtle transition, its quiet evolution has helped preserve the architectural integrity and cohesiveness of the village, increasingly rare features today.

The buildings comprising the Historic District are as follows (numbers correlate to the sketch map):

1. Smith-Holmes House, c.1825.
This is one of the earliest buildings remaining in West Newbury and is a good example of the Cape Cod house type. The clapboard house has 1-1/2-stories, 5 x 2 bays, and a central chimney and entrance. The transom appears to be original and some of the original 6/6 sash remains. An unusually decorative frieze spans the facade and is composed of a string of dentils surmounted by a row of pendants. Above the frieze is a box cornice.

A wing was added later to the east side. It has a modern stone chimney and was also recently remodeled. Attached to the wing is a 1-1/2-story clapboard shed.

This was the second home built in Newbury by Colonel John Smith (1758-1851), one of the early settlers of the town. Smith was noted for his long years of military service having fought in the Revolutionary War as well as the War of 1812. After he built this house, he gave the land for the Union Meeting House (#4) and the West Newbury Cemetery, No doubt Smith enjoyed this home; although he was 68 years old when it was constructed, he lived here for another 25 years.

2. MacDuffie-Ansley House, c. 1825.
Like the Smith-Holmes House (#1), this house is also a 1-1/2-story, 5 x 2 bay, clapboard, Cape Cod house, testifying to the prevalence and popularity of this building type during the early nineteenth century. Although the central chimney has been removed and replaced by a stove chimney on the north side, other Cape Cod characteristics remain intact. Architectural detail is concentrated on the central entrance: 3/4-length sidelights flank the door and the fluted surround has corner blocks with bull's-eye designs. The windows have plain surrounds and the sash is now 2/2 and 2/1.

A 1-1/2-story ell composed of two sections is attached to the rear. It has vertical board siding and, along with other modern sash, has two large sliding glass doors and skylights.

3. Sheep Barn, c. 1870.
This gable roof barn measures approximately 15' x 20' and has vertical board siding. Although the barn is falling into a dilapidated state, it is a visual reminder of the village's ties to farming. .

4. Union Meeting House, 1833.
The Union Meeting House, the landmark of West Newbury, was constructed under the direction of Archibald Mills, a master builder who was responsible for many fine structures erected throughout Newbury. Like many clapboarded, Federal style New England meeting houses, the Union Meeting House is rectangular in plan with its facade dominated by a multi-stage belfry. The gable front has a projecting 2-story, 2-bay central pavilion with a full pediment. The two entrances are located in the pavilion and have surrounds consisting of pilasters flanking the single leaf, 6-panel doors and supporting plain, yet full, entablatures. Windows with 6/6 sash and louvered shutters are stationed above the entrances.

Partially supported by the pavilion is the 3-stage belfry. The first stage has large, rectangular louvers on each of the four sides; these are repeated in the smaller second stage and in four of the eight sides of the third stage. Simple stick balustrades surround the second and third stages and enforce the rectangularity of the belfry which is finally offset by the octagonal shape of the third stage and its flared, bell cast roof surmounted by a spire with a ball finial.

The pavilion is actually a smaller, protruding imitation of the main gable front. The side elevations warrant attention: five bays of windows are embellished with semi-circular fans which surmount the 8/8 sash which, in turn, are flanked by louvered shutters. These fans have a type of sunburst motif with raised rays separated by small, diamond-shaped blocks. Surrounding each fan is a simple surround.

Although the interior has been altered throughout the years (see Wells' History of Newbury, pp. 191-192), there are some interesting features including the slip pews which are grained, and the coffered tin ceiling.

5. West Newbury Hall, c. 1890.
Essentially a utilitarian structure, the West Newbury Hall has little architectural detail yet is pleasing in its form and simplicity. The building has a basement level although the gable front reveals only 1-1/2 stories. The roof is clad in modern asphalt shingles and has a corbelled, brick stove pipe chimney; the eaves overhang and indicate the relatively late date of construction. The building is sheathed with clapboards and simple corner boards meet a plain raking frieze. The main story is 3 x 4 bays although the basement level on the southeast side has 7 bays, 2 of which are entrances. The central entrance in the gable front is a double-leaf door reached by wide concrete steps. The door surround is simple as are those of the windows. The sash is now 1/1 and 2/2 and are probably original.

6. Parsonage, c. 1925.
This 2-story, clapboard house has a gambrel roof and a 1-story porch extending across the facade. A number of details help distinguish the house: the 1-story bay window on the right side of the facade, square, panelled, Doric columns supporting the hipped roof of the porch, paired windows (6/6 sash) on the facade, and a semi-circular, stained-glass window in the gambrel peak. There are two, shingled, shed-roof dormers on each side of the roof which stress the steep pitch of the gambrel.

6A. Parsonage Garage, c.1925. This is a 1-story, clapboard structure with a gabled roof and a 1-bay opening with a door on track rollers.

7. West Newbury School, 1894.
Built as a "standard" plan schoolhouse, this clapboarded structure appears to be a hybrid of the Greek Revival style and utilitarian design. The 3-bay gable front has a central entrance with a transom and corner boards supporting the cornice which returns across the front. The two windows which flank the door and the window in the gable peak have 2/2 sash and louvered shutters. A wooden flagpole remains intact above the transom window The northwest elevation has a bank of 5 windows, a common feature in schoolhouses to allow natural afternoon light. The southeast elevation is pierced irregularly with two small windows and two doors,one of each serving the basement. A 1-story, gable-roof shed is attached to the rear of the building.

The schoolhouse is now owned by the Newbury Historical Society and is an important feature not only for West Newbury but for the entire town as it is the town's last remaining nineteenth century schoolhouse.

8. Marsh House, c.1900 and 1950.
Composed of two sections, the right half was originally a chicken coop for the neighboring Eastman-Tyler House (#9). The coop section has a saltbox from and a 7-bay facade, of which 3 bays are shielded by a shed-roof porch. The left half of the house is 3 x 3 bays, also 1-story with clapboard siding, and has modern fenestration. Although the coop section is relatively old, the building as a whole does not contribute to the historical or architectural significance of the Historic District.

8A. Marsh Garage, c. 1940. This is a two-bay garage with a gable roof and novelty siding. It does not contribute to the Historic District.

9. Eastman-Tyler House, c. 1830.
The Eastman-Tyler House is one of West Newbury's larger houses with 2-1/2 stories, a 5-bay facade, and a gabled roof. The symmetrical facade has a centrally located entrance which is highlighted by 1/2-length sidelights and a fret work surround similar to designs found in Asher Benjamin's pattern books. The 2/2 sash are flanked by louvered shutters. A molded cornice returns at the gable ends. The 1-story porch, which extends the length of the facade and turns to meet the 2-story wing, is supported by square posts which rest on a shingled base. The south end of the wing is a carriage barn with a large, sliding door surmounted by a transom.

This house was built by Samuel Eastman who was the contractor for the Union Meeting House (#4) and owner of the first store in West Newbury (#13).

10. Tyler-Atwood House, 1906.
This house appears to be a blend of the Colonial Revival style and vernacular design commonly found in structures erected around the turn of this century. The 2-1/2 stories, gable roof, and central entrance are standard features of vernacular architecture while the 1-story, wraparound porch with Tuscan columns and the picture windows with leaded tracery transoms are common traits of the Colonial Revival. The vinyl clapboard siding may have obscured some of the detail of the house. A 2-1/2-story ell is attached to the north side of the house.

John B.C. Tyler, postmaster and storekeeper (#13), built this house in 1906. It is part of the Tyler Farms complex which includes the H. Smith House (#11) and outbuildings.

11. H. Smith House (Tyler Farms), c.1830.
This house appears to be the earliest building in West Newbury clearly inspired by the Greek Revival style. Although its form is like a Cape Cod house with 1-1/2-stories, 5 x 3 bays, and a central chimney, this house has its gable end with a central entrance oriented towards the street. The entrance shows the influence of Asher Benjamin's guidebooks: the 8-panel door and 3/4-length sidelights have an elaborate surround composed of pilasters with molded Greek fretwork supporting corner blocks and a lintel with the same fretwork pattern. The windows have plain lintels and sills and 2/2 sash. A 3-bay, 1-story porch shades the entrance and is supported by chamfered posts. Corner boards support a molded cornice which returns at the gable ends. The raking eaves have a simple molding and do not overhang. Aluminum siding.

A 1-1/2-story wing with gabled dormers is attached to the rear and has two carriage bays. A 1-1/2-story, clapboard barn is linked to the wing; both structures exemplify that trait peculiar to New England known as "continuous architecture".

11A. Cow barn, c.1870. Running perpendicular to the main structure is a large, clapboard cow barn. A louvered square cupola with a weathervane surmounts the gable roof. The barn has a drive-in entry located on the south gable end.

11B. Perpendicularly attached to this barn is a sheet-metal, gambrel-roof barn(1910) sporting two ventilator hoods. It has 2-1/2 stories and clapboard siding.

11C. Facing the drive-in entry to the large barn (11A) is an open, 4-bay tractor shed with a gable roof and vertical board siding.

11D. To the left of the tractor shed is a one-bay, gabled tractor shed with vertical board siding.

11E. On the left of the large cow barn (11A) is a modern (1973), 1-story barn with a low, metal, gable roof and metal siding and measuring approximately 30' x 100'.

11F. Between the tractor shed (11C) is a modern, 4-bay garage with a gable roof and weatherboard siding. It does not contribute to the historic district.

Altogether, the house and farm buildings illustrate the growth of this farm complex which has spanned about 150 years.

12. Mobile home. Removed from site.

13. Old Eastman-Tyler Store, 1841.
This building originally served as a store and was erected by Samuel Eastman (who also built and lived in #9). It is a large, 2-1/2-story structure with a gable roof. Unfortunately, much of its architectural integrity has been lost due to unsympathetic alterations. The one remaining original detail which shows the early date of this building is the cornice returns. A gabled ell with a shed roof garage is attached to the south elevation.

Although this building has been greatly altered, its massing still contributes to the Historic District and it is also one of the important buildings historically.

Eastman operated this store for about ten years and then sold it to Hazen K. Wilson. In 1870, Wilson sold the store to John B.C. Tyler. Tyler operated the store and post office until his death in 1969. The building was converted into apartments in 1973.

14. Scales-Giroux House, c.1845.
Located at the intersection of Snake Road and Tucker Mountain Road, the Scales-Giroux House serves as an important focal point for the Historic District because its broad gable front essentially terminates one end of the Snake Road axis. Built in the Greek Revival style, this clapboard house has 1-1/2 stories plus an attic, a central brick chimney, and 5 x 2 bays. The facade presents a delightful geometrical pattern with its three levels of bays ascending towards the peak in a 5-3-1 digression. This pattern is sometimes referred to as a "Noah's Ark". The central entrance dominates the gable front and has full-length sidelights flanked by wide boards supporting a simple frieze and cornice. The entire facade also is outlined by wide boards; these are seen in the sill, corner boards, and raking frieze. Additional detail is obtained through the use of cornice returns. The windows have plain lintels and sills and 2/1 sash.

An ell and carriage barn extend from the east side of the house and also have clapboard siding. The 1-1/2-story ell has a central entrance, 2 gabled dormers, and door and window surrounds like those of the main house. The carriage barn has a rectangular opening with solid braced corners. Both ell and carriage barn have cornice returns.

14A. To the west of the house is a small, gabled shed with vertical board siding.

15. West Newbury Post Office, 1975.
This is a modern, one-story clapboard structure with a gable roof. It is 2 x 1 bays and approximately 20' x 10' . This post office does not contribute to the Historic District.


One of the smaller villages in the town of Newbury, West Newbury Village is a good example of a well-preserved early 19th to early 20th century villagescape. Modest in scale, the buildings still convey the historic self-sufficient role played by such small settlements in Vermont through the early 20th century. A church (#4), former school (#7), village hall (#5) and former commercial building (#13) served residents in the village and the surrounding agricultural community. The latter pursuit is also represented within the district itself by a farm complex (#11) which exemplifies the concept of "continuous architecture".

When compared to the villages of Newbury and Wells River, West Newbury has always been a small and unassuming community with an economy largely dependent upon farming. Geographically separated by hills from the flatter, intervale region of the town and bypassed during the nineteenth century by major transportation routes, the residents of West Newbury concentrated on agriculture, an astute decision since some of the finest farmland in Orange County is found in the West Newbury vicinity.

Although the history of West Newbury is not extensively documented, it is believed that the land in this part of town was first cleared around 1770. It was one of the earliest sections of the back hill region tackled by settlers. During these years most townspeople were living along the intervale so those who chose to delve into the forest and cope with the hills must have been an extraordinarily ambitious group. By the time the Revolution began, four men had established farms: Samuel Hadley, Samuel Eaton, Josiah Rogers, and a man recorded only as Kelley. Yet development of the village as we know it today did not actually begin until the second quarter of the nineteenth century. After numerous attempts, beginning as early as 1808, the construction of a meeting house was finally realized in 1833 which helped enormously to begin physically defining a village center. The Union Meeting House (#4), like all New England meeting houses, served as a social and religious magnet for residents scattered about on farms. And because of this, it also spurred commercial and residential development.

One man connected with three of the Historic District's important buildings was Samuel Eastman (1803-1885). Eastman was the contractor for the Meeting House (#4) as well as for a house he constructed, the Eastman-Tyler House (#9). Several years later in 1841, he built the Eastman-Tyler Store (#13), an important commercial factor in the village's growth. Eastman also built a starch factory in 1847 near the meeting house, but this structure is no longer extant. Unfortunately, Eastman's business acumen never rivaled his carpentry skills and he eventually spent some time on the town farm.

With farms, small factories, a store and post office, and a meeting house generating activity and commerce, the village gradually grew with homes and several public buildings lining Snake Road. A schoolhouse (#7) and a grange hall (#5) were built in 1870s and 1890s respectively and these also served to draw people into the village center. During this century, the Parsonage (#6) and the Tyler House (#10) were built, further contributing respectable architectural variety to the village.

Within the past fifteen years or so, West Newbury has changed into an almost strictly residential center. The closing of the school (#7) has left the southern end of the District strangely quiet, and the conversion of the old Eastman-Tyler Store (#13) into apartments eliminated an important commercial service The village as a whole exemplifies a high degree of architectural cohesiveness and variety.


(1) Wells, Frederic P. History of Newbury, Vermont. (St. Johnsbury: The Caledonian Co.), 1902.

(2) Town of Newbury, History of Newbury, Vermont, 1900-1977. (Bradford: Fox Pub. Corp.), 1978.

(3) Davis, Janet. Town of Newbury, Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey, 1978.

FORM PREPARED BY: Margaret DeLaittre, Preservation Consultant, 271 Elm Street, Montpelier, VT 05602. Tel: 802-229-0135. Date: 11 March 1981, Revised May 1983.

DATE ENTERED: September 15, 1983.
(Source 127)