Waitsfield Village Historic Walking Tour
"The township owes its name to General Benjamin Wait, the first settler and proprietor of the town. Waitsfield is almost precisely at the geographical center of the state of Vermont, and tradition has it that the commissioners to locate the state capital "struck their stake" (almost precisely) where the village now stands. But General Wait declared "he wouldn't have his meadow cut up" and so he saved the town from that honor."
Rev. Fiske's description of 1882 Waitsfield - "white cottages are to be seen on either side of the valley, and about there are plenty of the evidence of thrift and comfort... The landscape is pronounced, even by strangers, to be picturesque and charming beyond many others in Vermont -"
Waitsfield was Chartered in 1782 and first settled in 1789 by General Wait and family. The General Wait home is number one on our list, but you can make it the first or the last stop on your tour of Historic Waitsfield Village.
Waitsfield Village Historic District Walking Tour
To see a map of the Walking Tour CLICK HERE
#1 General Wait Home (C - 1793). The first frame house in Waitsfield was built by the town's founder and namesake, General Benjamin Wait, on the old road, which was west of the present Rt. 100. In this house the town was organized in 1794. About 1830 the house was moved down to its present location near the cemetery (where the general was buried) and the second story was added.
#3 Old High School (1847, 1917). In 1847 it came time to replace the Village District one-room school building, which had stood north of Benjamin Wait's house on the old road. A two-story wooden structure with a belfry was built. There was one room on each floor; the upper one for the more advanced students. In 1906, it became a two-year high school. In 1917 the larger front section was added and high school was extended to four years.
#7 Lucius Shaw House (C - 1845). Mr. Shaw originally settled on Dana Hill in 1830 and died in 1880. By 1900 George Olmstead occupied this house. It continues to be a private residence.
#10 John Walton House (1838). This Classic Cottage style house was built by John Walton. Beginning in 1882, it was occupied for many years by Dr. Henry J. Howe for both dwelling and medical office.
#11 Pingry House (C - 1835-1880). William Morrill Pingry (Pingree) built this house where he lived and practiced law for nine years before moving to Weathersfield. Later Dr. David Carlisle Joyslin lived here and carried on the practice of medicine until his death in 1874. The second story may have been added about 1880.
#12 Roderick Richardson, Jr., House (1834). This brick house was "built by Roderick Richardson, Jr., the son and business partner of Roderick Richardson, who was responsible for the establishment of the village as a commercial center." For many years it was the home of Judge Jonathan H. Hastings. More recently it was occupied by the family of Walter E. Jones, who assisted his brother, Matt Bushnell Jones, in writing the History of Waitsfield.
#13 Federated Church (1874). The first Congregational Meeting House was erected on the common in 1807. By 1844 the building was in disrepair and the center of town activities had moved from the common to the valley. After much dissension between the parishioners in the eastern part of town and those in what had developed as the village, a site on Mill Hill in front of the present cemetery was chosen for the second Meeting House, which was built in 1846.
This location proved unsatisfactory and the building was taken down. As much material as could be saved was used in 1874 in the construction of the present building on land given by Judge Hastings. Designed by the Reverend James H. Babbitt, pastor of the church from 1868 to 1876, this building has been called the best example of a Romanesque Revival style church in the state.
#16 Hiram Jones House (C - 1845). This was originally a small cape with a separate barn. In later years an addition was built to connect them. Many people now living would refer to it as the home of John Kingsbury, who lived here and carried on his trade of blacksmith in the old shop across the bridge.
#18 Dan Richardson House (1830). Roderick Richardson, Sr., built this brick house for his son, Dan. The present owner found the date 1830 burned into a board in the attic. It was known for many years as Campbell's Tavern.
#20 Edwin Dumas House (1825). Edwin A. Dumas, born in Waitsfield in 1828, was a mill owner and operator. He operated mills in this immediate area.
#21 Walter Moriarty House (C - 1840). about 1900 the house was purchased by Walter Moriarty, owner of the sawmill which, together with the grist mill, had been built in 1829 and 1830. Miramar Ski Club is now on the site of the grist mill and the sawmill was behind it at a right angle. The canal to provide water power for both ran under the road where the iron railing of a bridge can be seen.
#22 George Kidder House (C - 1820). The wooden part of this building is the older part and was occupied as a store, kept by George Frederick Kidder in 1820. When he was appointed postmaster in 1822, it also served as a post office. About 1835 it was made into a dwelling.
#23 Congregational Parsonage (C - 1845). The original part of this house first served as "the little red schoolhouse" located at the fork of the roads leading to the common and to East Warren. Sometime in the early 1860's, the building was moved to the village and converted to a dwelling. About 1865, it was acquired by the Congregational Society for a parsonage.
#24 Second John Walton House (1840). John Walton, a blacksmith, built his house near the shop (#25) he had built ten years earlier.
#25 Blacksmith Shop (1838). John Walton's blacksmith shop began as a small gable-roofed building. Over the years, it was enlarged and changed into a flat-roofed garage. Some people now living remember it as John Kingsbury's blacksmith shop.
#26 Village Covered Bridge (1833). The first bridge spanning the river at the Great Eddy was built before 1796. The present structure, completed in 1833, is the second oldest covered bridge in use in the State of Vermont today and the oldest in continuous use in the state.
#28 The Old Tin Shop (1848). This building was erected by W. Jasper Walton in 1848, and was utilized for hardware, tinsmithing, and plumbing. More recently it was owned by "Doc" Bisbee as a hardware store and sheetmetal shop.
#30 Waitsfield House (C - 1840, 1851). This building, erected by Elisha Foster, was originally located at the "foot of the dugway" in Irasville. It was moved in 1851 by Roderick Richardson, Jr. to its present site. The large brick basement was used by the town for its annual town meetings and other gatherings for many years.
#44 Roderick Richardson House (1817). This is the oldest house in Waitsfield Village still on its original site. It was built by Roderick Richardson in 1817 as a center chimney cape. This house was owned for many years by the Fullertons.
#45 Jacob Boyce House (C - 1845). Mr. Boyce was a Methodist minister but took up the life of a merchant and operated a store in what is now the Masonic Lodge building from 1862 until his death. It was then carried on by his son until his death in 1903.
#46 Hastings S. Campbell House (C - 1845). In 1855 Mr. Campbell acquired this house which had been built by Roderick Richardson. In the same year he became proprietor of the hardware store in #28.
#47 Masonic Lodge (1831, 1845). This brick building was erected in 1831 by Roderick Richardson and was occupied as a store by him and his son until it was partially destroyed by a fire in 1845. The present brick structure then built is unique in that it has three oriel display windows cantilevered on granite sills. These are the original windows in the front of the building and the only ones of their type in Vermont today.
#48 Richardson James Gleason House (C - 1845). This house served as the Town Clerk's office for many years and Richardson James Gleason also kept a post office in this same building from 1861 to 1889.
#51 J. W. Richardson Estate (C - 1845). This house, now known as the Village Grocery, was built around 1845 and was up to and through 1873 the J. W. Richardson Estate. This was a well-kept village residence occupied by H. W. and Elizabeth McAllister in the very early 1900's.
#53 Cheney Prentice House (C - 1840). There are persons in Waitsfield who say that this house and the Andrew Bigelow house were built by the same person around 1840. This may be true because of their general similarity.
#54 Andrew Bigelow House (C - 1840). This house was built by James M. Richardson around 1840 and was occupied for many years by Andrew W. Bigelow who was a harness maker and livery stable proprietor. The Potting Shed at the rear was originally a little harness shop erected on the common in 1810 by Roderick Richardson. It was later removed to the village square, and then to its present location around 1840.
#56 Union Meeting House (1836). This square brick structure was built in 1836 by the Union Meeting House Society as a one-story church building. It has been occupied since 1903 by the local chapter of the Odd Fellows who remodeled it into a two-story structure. Today it is the home of the Valley Players Theater.
#57 Dan Richardson House (C - 1840). This low brick dwelling was built by Dan Richardson in the 1840's after he had acquired much of the original Wait farm. The house has always been a private residence.
Text and graphics from the "Waitsfield Village Historic District Walking Tour" Brochure courtesy of the Waitsfield Historical Society
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