South Newbury Village Historic District
Municipality: Newbury, VT
Location: Old Route 5 & Doe Hill Road
Site Type: Historic District
Vt Survey No: --
UTMs: (Zone 18) A. 733560/4881080. B. 733640/4880920. C. 733360/4880600. D. 733220/4880920
National Register Nomination Information:
Five buildings comprise the South Newbury Village Historic District and all of the houses are either late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century. Collectively, the buildings form a cohesive setting due to the similarity of building materials, purpose, and layout. Individually, the buildings exhibit a variety of architectural styles ranging from the Federal style to the Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, and Italianate styles. Furthermore, throughout the years the majority of changes, alterations, and additions to the houses and outbuildings have been sympathetic.
The South Newbury Village Historic District is located on a ridge overlooking Hall's Meadow and the intervale of the Connecticut River. Like several other places in the town, this village has a commanding view of the White Mountains which lie to the east, an impressive backdrop even if an almost hackneyed feature in Vermont. The Historic District is clustered around two roads, Doe Hill Road (Town Highway 73) and old U.S. Route 5 (Town Highway 84), the latter of which was formerly a major thoroughfare.
The buildings of the Historic District are as follows (numbers correlate to those of the sketch map):
1. Davenport-Shaurger House, c. 1781). This house is a large 2-1/2 story, 5 x 3 bay gabled, clapboard structure evocative of the Federal style. It is also essentially formal in nature with the exception of two whimsically decorated porches in the wing.
The facade faces southeast and has a central entrance with 3/4-length sidelights. A 1-story, 3-bay porch extends almost the length of the facade and square, panelled Doric posts resting on panelled pedestals support the flat roof. There is also a panelled Doric pilaster at each corner of the main block, and these support the plain entablature and cornice returns.
The gable front and northwest elevation also have entrances; that of the former is off-center with 3/4-length sidelights while the latter is centrally located with 1/2-length sidelights. Also, both have 1-bay entrance porches. The gable front porch resembles the facade's porch and may have been added at the same time; the only difference is that the gable front porch has a scrolled board running below the frieze and the posts do not rest on pedestals. The porch on the northwest elevation is modern.
With the exception of several windows on the gable front, the sash is 6/6 and most windows are topped by cornices.
The 1-1/2-story wing has a gabled wall dormer on the northwest elevation and two porches (northwest and southeast elevations) with delightfully decorative trim with cut-out designs.
1A. Barn, c.1850. This large, clapboard structure is also an admirable design. The gable roof has a square cupola with the base defined by corner pilasters and a louvered section above. The cupola roof is flared and topped by a weathervane. The barn's main entrance is located in the gable end and has a somewhat primitive surround composed of pilasters and an entablature crudely fashioned. Corner pilasters support the main entablature and cornice returns. There is also a simple raking frieze. Windows in the gable front have 9/6 sash.
1B. Corn crib, c.1870. The gabled, 1x1 bay, clapboard corn crib resembles the barn in having cornice returns on the gable front. There is a window with 6/6 sash in the gable peak and a transom above the entrance. Supposedly this entrance was raised in the 1920s in order to accommodate a Model T.
2. Stevens-Page House, c. 1820. This 1-1/2-story, 5 x 5 bay, clapboard house appears to be a Cape Cod which was later changed into a gable front house. There are two entrances, one on the southeast side and another in the gable front, and both have doors flanked by sidelights and topped by transoms. There is a flat roof porch across the gable facade and another sheltering the southeast doorway. The porches are identical with turned posts, scrolled brackets, and turned balustrades except that the southeast porch is only 1 bay wide whereas the other extends the length of the gable facade. Corner pilasters support an entablature with cornice returns. The windows have retained their 6/6 sash and have simple lintels. Like a number of buildings in Newbury, the gable facade has three floors with the bays ascending in a 5-3-1 pattern. A gable dormer protrudes on the northwest side and two others are located in the wing. Attached to the wing is a 1-1/2-story, clapboard carriage barn with a gable roof.
2A. Garage, c.1930. This is a 1-1/2-story, clapboard structure with a gable roof, two car bays in the gable end, and two windows in the gable peak.
2B. Barn, c.1870. This barn is a large, gabled structure with board and batten siding and a shingled base on the northwest elevation. There is a transom window over the gable end entrance. The southeast elevation has five open tractor bays at the ground level.
2C. Modern cow barn, 1964. Measuring approximately 100'x 30', this barn has a semicircular, sheet-metal roof clapboard siding and banks of windows on the side elevations. It does not contribute to the historic district.
3. Hooker House, c.1790 and 1872. There are two sections to this clapboard building: a 1-1/2-story, gabled roof, 5 x 3 bay house and a 2-1/2-story, gable front structure with a 4-story tower. The original house has a central entrance which is flanked by full-length sidelights and protected by a 1-bay porch supported by Italianate, panelled posts on pedestals. To the left of the doorway is a bay window, also Italianate in style with panels above and below the sash. Corner pilasters support a simple frieze. There are three gable dormers symmetrically placed in front.
Attached on the right of the original Cape style house is the newer, 2-1/2-story section. A porch, identical to that on the older section, stretches across the facade of the gable front and shields the double-leaf entrance with transom. The projecting, 4-story tower on the left is surmounted by a hip roof and modillioned cornice, repeated in the porch cornice. The 4th stage is differentiated by paired, round-headed windows. There are two Italianate oriel windows on the southeast side of the addition.
Supposedly, the original house was moved here from a site lower on the hill, and the gable front and tower were added in the early 1870s.
3A. Barn, c. 1870. This is a large, clapboard structure with a gable, sheet-metal roof. A square cupola rests atop the roof and has 4 windows (probably originally louvers) and a flared, shingled roof similar in style to the cupolas of #1A and #5A. The entrance in the gable end and has a transom window; two windows with 6/6 sash flank the entrance and another 6/6 window is located in the gable peak.
4. Witherspoon-Gilbride House, c.1800. The Withersnoon-Gilbride House se is a 2-1/2-story, Federal style clapboard structure with 6 X 3 bays. The facade's entrance (off-center) has sidelights and a transom and is protected by a gabled entry porch which is supported by paired square columns. Corner boards support the molded cornice which returns at the gable ends. The windows now have 2/1, 2/2, and 6/6 sash, pedimented lintels, and louvered shutters. Whereas the gable peak in the southeast elevation has no eaves overhanging, the northwest gable has a full pediment, flush board siding, and a louvered fan above the gable window.
The 2-story wing has 3 carriage bays with braced openings on the first floor and a small, 9-pane window above each bay. Between the carriage bays and the house is an entrance to the wing with an elliptically-shaped top. Attached to the wing is a 2-story, 2-bay ell which has probably always served for storage purposes.
5. Gray House, c.1800. Although the form and composition of this house indicate a Federal style origin, the later, Italianate style details stand out and embellish the house. There are 2-1/2 stories, 5 x 2 bays, clapboard siding, a gable roof, and cornice returns. Extending across the facade is a 1-story porch supported by bracketed posts. Other Italianate features, which were probably added sometime during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, are the central entrance's double-leaf, circular-headed door, window cornices, the bay windows with bracketed cornices on the side elevations, and the bracketed hood over the northwest entrance.
The 1-1/2-story wing has 3 gabled dormers and 4 carriage bays, 3 or which are elliptical.
5A. Barn, c. 1860. The large, 1-1/2-level, L-shaped barn with board and batten siding has an entrance at each gable end. Above the entrances are transom windows. Each gable peak has a window with 6/6 sash. There are two louvered cupolas with flared roofs surmounted by weathervanes.
5B. Sheep barn, c.1890. This is a small, gabled structure with horizontal board siding and two, arched bays.
The South Newbury Historic District comprises the well-preserved structures remaining from a once thriving and affluent 19th century mill village once located along the major Connecticut River corridor and one of the earliest settlements in the town of Newbury. Although only 5 residences constitute the district, a variety of 19th century styles are present, and are, in some cases, uniquely combined. Also present are aesthetically contributing barns and outbuildings that attest to the 19th and 20th century agricultural economy of the area.
The village of South Newbury is one of the earliest settlements in Newbury, Vermont. Situated near the Connecticut River and overlooking Hall's Meadow, the village was an auspicious location for settlers anxious to take advantage of the rich; alluvial farmland and abundant waterpower found in this area. Hall's Brook proved particularly powerful for mill industries and was harnessed as early as 1764 when a sawmill was constructed at the lower falls. A gristmill followed in 1765 and, throughout the years, other types of mills were built in the area sparking additional commercial activity. Yet, as munificent as this watershed area proved to be, there was also a potentially destructive power involved. Throughout the village's history, numerous mills, houses, commercial structures and crops located on the lower meadowlands have been destroyed due to flooding caused by the spring thaws of the swollen streams and the Connecticut River. Thus, those buildings which comprise the Historic District atop the ridge may be standing today partly because those residents chose the insurance provided by the higher elevation. South Newbury also benefited for many years by having a major thoroughfare run through the village. Because it is located in the Connecticut River corridor, South Newbury saw traffic passing north to Newbury Village, Wells River and St. Johnsbury as well as southern traffic and trade bound for Bradford and out of state. A stage route from Haverhill, New Hampshire also passed through South Newbury at one time, and a railroad station once served the village for the Boston & Maine Railroad. When new U.S. Route 5 was built in the 1930's, the village was bypassed and this essentially relegated it to a quiet hamlet unchanged by later commercial development.
The most outstanding quality about South Newbury is its architecture. There is an interesting variety of styles which is even more impressive when considering that the Historic District has only 5 houses. The Davenport-Shauger House(#1) combines the Federal and Gothic Revival styles, the latter of which is seen in the porches' scrollwork trim and wall dormers. Although the house has undergone numerous changes throughout the years, including the elimination of a third story, it has retained its architectural integrity. This house is also noteworthy in that it was built by John Mills around 1780. Mills, a prominent figure in the early history of Newbury, was a highly respected carpenter, a trait carried on by his son, Archibald, who built the Union Meeting House in West Newbury. The Stevens-Page House (#2), while lacking the formality of the Davenport-Shauger House, is a good example of a Greek Revival house type which is seen throughout the Connecticut River Valley; the gable front has at least 3 floors with the number of bays on each floor decreasing by 2 towards the gable peak, a geometrical pattern sometimes referred to as a ''Noah's Ark". The Hooker House (#3) is a fusion of a Cape Cod house with a later, Italianate structure dramatically accentuated by a 4-story tower. Although this house has also been altered throughout the years, it is an odd, yet intriguing blend of styles and forms. Its function has been an equally odd mix serving as a private residence, summer boarding house, and now as a chapel. The Federal style Witherspoon House (#4) is the only house of the five which appears to have been unchanged. The Gray House (#5) is another Federal style composition which was later updated with Italianate details. Thus, this small district of five houses exhibits the Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and the Italianate Revival styles. Complimenting the large houses are a number of outbuildings and barns. The barns, like the houses, are exceptionally fine. All of these appear to date from about the second half of the nineteenth century and prove that primarily utilitarian outbuildings can also be distinguished aesthetically.
Although the mills are now gone, the houses on the upper level remain and attest to the affluence this mill, farming, and trading community enjoyed in the nineteenth century.
1) Wells, Frederic P. History of Newbury, Vermont, 1704-1902. St. Johnsbury: The Caledonian County, 1902, reprinted 1975.
2) Town of Newbury, Vermont. History of Newbury, Vermont, 1900 to 1977. Bradford Vermont: Fox Publishing Corporation, 1978.
3) Davis, Janet. Town of Newbury, Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey, 1978.
DATE ENTERED: July 28, 1983.
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