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Central Vermont Historic Walking Tours

Waterbury's Historic Walking Tour



Historic Waterbury
Historic Waterbury

A Historical Walking Tour of

  • Waterbury Village

A Historical Bike or Auto Tour of

  • Mill Village
  • Colbyville
  • Waterbury Center

Welcometo the Waterbury Tour. We invite you to stroll the streets allowing yourself to visualize stately elms and tall, rounded maples canopying the unpaved narrow streets in residential areas. As you amble along South and North Main Street, recall that in 1927 a devastating flood filled the street where you now walk with water reaching to the second story of the highest buildings. Watch for architectural details: varying roof styles, sidelights flanking entryways, unusual doors and windows. Take special note of two Sultanís bath windows at 88 South Main Street and imagine what you will. Bear in mind that many garages, apartments and house extensions once were the horse- and carriage-barns of pre-automobile times. You may request hard copies of this Historical Walking Tour (and others) by calling 802-229-4619.

Sample Marker

This symbol designates that a granite plaque appears on this building or area. The plaque indicates the original name, date of construction and historic Waterbury logo.

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Starting at 125 South Main Street, not far from the Winooski River, you will see the WILLIAM DEAL HOUSE, built in 1871. William Deal was the premier builder of Victorian structures in Waterbury. This two-story frame house with its slate hip roof was his last residence. The doorway has paneled pilasters supporting a pediment with a fan light. Four-paned sidelights flank the entrance. Great-grandchildren of Mr. Deal reside here today.

2. Vermont State Hospital and State Office Complex
Set back from South Main Street, at the head of the horseshoe drive, sits the original central building of the Vermont State Hospital for the Treatment of Mental Disorders. This section was completed in 1896. Originally, a one-story portico extended over the drive giving access to the entry. Flanking the center entry are two long wings terminating in a 2-1/2 story cylindrical building. Over the years additions to this building and the construction of other buildings produced a nearly self-sufficient entity. Currently only a small portion of this campus is used for a hospital; the remainder contains state offices.

CC Warren House
C. C. Warren House
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The C. C. WARREN HOUSE, 89 South Main Street, is the Victorian Italianate grande dame of the town. Built by William Deal and completed in 1875, this two-story structure of running bond brick is topped by a hip roof with a deck. Each side of the house has a broken roof line with a gable-roofed pavilion. The added north entry has an unusual corner window with beautiful stained glass (notice the bulls eye). In earlier days, conservatories ran obliquely from each side of the house, terminating in a gazebo-like room with an impressive concave roof. Two large stone mastiffs guarded the lawn, seeming to warn passers-by to stay away. The adjacent carriage house was altered in 1900 to house Mr. Warren's Hames-Apperson gasoline powered automobile, which bore Vermont license plate number 1. As the car had no reverse gear, a turntable was installed in the garage so that it could be driven out of the building.

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The AMASA PRIDE HOUSE, 83 South Main Street, was the home of Waterbury's first merchant, who arrived here in 1802. He was a successful merchant and innkeeper, and a political force in the community. Originally only one story high, this house, built circa 1845, sat diagonally across the street and was moved to this location in 1858. Later a second floor was added to the Greek Revival style home. The entrance, flanked by sidelights and framed by granite posts and lintel surrounds, is original.

Central Vermont Railroad Station
Central Vermont Railroad Station
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Across the street from the Pride House is the common, or park, deeded to the Central Vermont Railroad by Amasa Pride. The original Central Vermont RAILROAD STATION, built in 1850, was replaced by this building in 1875. A jewel of Victorian Italianate style in its day, it has been altered; a tall, mid- building pavilion which housed a clock has been removed. Currently, plans are underway to return the station to its former glory.

Waterbury Inn
Waterbury Inn

At the corner of Main Street and Park Row stood the WATERBURY INN, a four story Victorian hostelry built by William Deal and dedicated March 5, 1865. Visitors spent vacations there availing themselves of the croquet court and deer park at the back of the Inn. The Waterbury Inn's golf course was located on Blush Hill and is now known as the Blush Hill Country Club. This landmark, then encompassing most of Waterbury Square, burned on November 3 and 4, 1953, 26 years later to the day of the Flood of 1927. Numerous deaths related to the Inn during its final years lend an air of mystery to this former Waterbury landmark.

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The WILLIAM WELLS HOUSE, 73 South Main Street, is now the Gateway Motel. This Greek Revival style house, built around 1850, was home to a Civil War general. It stands as a symbol of strength, built to last. The original 2-1/2-story structure of running bond brick on a massive stone foundation is relatively intact. The gable shows a triangular brick area framed by headers. The three-bay front door has an elaborate frame of fluted columns above which is an eight-paned transom. The windows have granite lintels and sills.

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The CARPENTER HOUSE, 60 South Main Street, is a fine example of early Federal style. It was built around 1816 as the home of Dan Carpenter, Waterbury's first lawyer. Carpenter built his first house about 1805 which is said to be the ell of the existing house. The 2-1/2-story, five bay house, has a shallow pitched roof. The front entry is topped by a semicircular fanlight with an elaborate surround of two pairs of broad fluted pilasters, each pair enclosing double-hung six over six sidelights. The interior was converted to office space in 1995, but the exterior is maintained in its original 1816 style.

Bank Hill
Bank Hill

As you proceed up to North Main Street, you will enter the main business area of the village. Commercial buildings on the right side of the street were built in the late 19th century. Over the years they have housed banks, millinery shops, grocery stores, clothing and shoe stores, pool rooms and public baths (25 cents a tub.) The buildings on the left side of the street are recent, as the older buildings on this side were destroyed by fire. Bank Hill is a much gentler hill today than it was in early days, when there were steps near the top of the hill to aid ascent. Until the 1950s, a tower-like structure, called the dummy policeman, stood in the middle of the Stowe and Main Street intersection to serve as a traffic stop sign.

STOWE STREET business AREA, established circa 1833
Stowe Street Business Area

8. On the corner of Stowe and Main Streets is the OLD CORNER STORE, where locals gathered for the latest news and for political debate. The earliest of the remaining business buildings, it was built in 1833. The Stowe Street bay has two entrances, one with steps to reach the entrance. The Main Street side has housed a variety of businesses over the years.

9. ONE SOUTH MAIN STREET is currently The Thirsty Turtle. The building was one of the earliest business structures in town, built in 1834. It is a larger fraternal twin to 2 North Main Street. This Federal/Greek Revival, five bay building shows early window features on the second and third floors. The top gable treatment differs from that of 2 North Main. In the 1860s it contained the first Masonic Hall. In later years, Smith and Somerville's Hardware provided the town with a variety of materials.

10. TWO NORTH MAIN STREET, a Federal/Greek Revival style building constructed in 1834, is a 2-1/2 story gable front structure of common bond brick with a header every ten rows. Granite was used for door and window jambs and divides the storefront into five bays. Four stone steps give access at the entrances. Note the unusual recessed gable. For a major portion of its existence, this building was a drug store.

11. Turning to face Stowe Street on the left side of the street stands the STIMSON & GRAVES BUILDING built in 1875. Previously known as the Knights of Columbus Building, it was totally renovated in the 1990s. This three-and-a-half story, thirteen-bay Italianate structure originally housed Richardson and Fullerton Dry Goods, the Post Office, a stationery store, and a hardware store. Over the years, a host of businesses were located here. The most interesting was Nap Deguise's Beauty Shop; originally a barber shop where Nap and Jenny Deguise barbered while a pool room operated in the back. Nap was an unschooled but excellent oil painter, carver of folk art figures, and writer of poetry. He was known to issue passports allowing out-of-state friends to enter the state of Vermont.

12. Next is the American Legion Hall, on the site of the old WATERBURY OPERA HOUSE. At one time it housed the first theater showing talking movies. The original building built about 1890 burned on December 27, 1985.

13. Just before the railroad bridge, known locally as THE DRY BRIDGE, is a small commercial building which was built as a church.

14. Continue the tour over the Dry Bridge. At the corner of High Street, on the right, is a trio of connected brick buildings comprising THATCHER BROOK PRIMARY SCHOOL. Previously these buildings housed Waterbury High School (until 1966) and Waterbury Elementary School (until 1997). The central structure was built in 1898 of running bond brick with hip roof. Originally there were two towers. Note the entrance, recessed into a wide semicircular arch topped by a large fanlight. The section to the left was built in 1912 to resemble the 1898 portion, enriched with denticulate brickwork at the roof line. The third (right-hand) section, added in 1936, is narrower but similar to the earlier parts. This complex is an outstanding example of public school buildings in the late 19th to early 20th century.

Walk back toward Main Street staying on the same side of the street.

15. On the further side of the Dry Bridge sits a building with an unusual corner door. A great many commercial enterprises have been located here, including a fruit market operated by an accordion-playing proprietor who entertained all of Stowe Street with his music.

16. MINARD'S BLOCK, now The Stowe Street Emporium at 23 Stowe Street, was built in 1894. It has a two-story, three-bay facade of running bond brick with brick corner pilasters. In the 1930s and 40s this building housed the second movie theater in town, complete with the Prescott sisters dispensing goodies at the curb from their brightly colored popcorn machine. Although alterations have been made over the years, it continues to shine as a grand old building.

17. 17-21 Stowe Street you will find another William Deal structure. Built in 1879 in the Victorian/Italianate style, this was the F.C. LUCE DEPARTMENT STORE for nearly a century. Note the windows with brick surrounds on the second and third floors and the cast iron Corinthian column pilasters at street level.

To complete the walking tour of Waterbury Village turn right and walk up North Main Street, enjoying the architectural features of the buildings. The sweeping veranda at 11 North Main Street is reminiscent of three others that formerly existed on the street. Walk approximately 2/10 mile to view the Dr. Janes house.

18. The WDEV BLOCK, also built by the prolific William Deal in 1879, has three sections, each with a four-bay unit. The building is very similar to its neighbor, so again note the upper stories for interesting brick and stone work. Various commercial enterprises have been located here. The farthest bay was a marvelous ice-cream shop, complete with marble fountain, homemade ice cream, and rows of penny candy.

Dr. Henry Janes House
Dr. Henry Janes House

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The DR. HENRY JANES HOUSE, built in 1890, at 28 North Main Street, is now the Waterbury Village Public Library and Historical Museum. It was the home of two generations of the Janes family. The first Henry Janes, an early resident of the town, was a lawyer who was very active in town affairs. He had married Fanny Butler, daughter of Ezra Butler. Until 1936, the La Fayette elm tree stood on the lawn of this house. Marquis de La Fayette, on his final tour of the United States in 1825, paid homage to Ezra Butler, reportedly kissing Fanny's hand on introduction.

The son of Henry and Fanny was also named Henry. He became a medical doctor, practiced in town, and served in the Civil War. As head of Union Army hospital services immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, Dr. Janes faced the challenge of caring for 20,000 wounded Union and Confederate men. Following the war he returned to his medical practice here and was active in town affairs. On his death he bequeathed his residence as a site for a public library. The 2-1/2-story house has the asymmetrical, massing, complex roof line and variety of materials typical of the Queen Anne style. Running bond brick sheaths the first floor; clapboards, the second. Projecting bays extend above the eaves and emphasize the slate-roofed dormers.

Old Stage Coach Inn
Old Stage Coach Inn
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The OLD STAGECOACH INN, 18 North Main Street, was constructed in 1826 as a Federal style building. In 1895, it was altered by changing it to a Queen Anne house. The large three-story, five-bay structure keeps the one-room-deep profile of the Federal period on the first floor. The entry is surrounded by etched glass sidelights. Extensive porches on each floor add to the appeal of this building. For many years this was the home of Mrs. Annette Spencer, a local woman of considerable wealth having residences in London, Paris, and New York City. It has reverted to its former role as a welcome haven for travelers.

21. UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, known as the White Meeting House, was built in 1824. In 1860 it underwent alterations giving it a Gothic look. The frame church is divided into three bays, with buttresses ending in pinnacles at the corners. The double door entrance is enclosed in a double-tiered tower topped by a spire. The chapel was added in 1880 and the stained glass windows in 1890. The church was built by the Carpenter brothers, who also built the Stagecoach Inn. HOPE CEMETERY, directly behind the church, contains the remains of many of the early occupants of the buildings described in this tour.

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The DILLINGHAM HOME, 6 North Main Street, built circa 1835, was originally the home of Governor Paul Dillingham, and United States Senator William Dillingham. The stepping stone out front, which aided people descending from carriages, bears the initials of a later owner, Dr. W. F. Minard. A Federal style, 2-1/2-story brick house, it has a side hall entrance with sidelights supporting a broad fanlight framed by an arch. The porch is a late 19th century addition.

This completes the VILLAGE portion of the tour. You will want a car or bicycle to continue the tour. Proceed along Stowe Street from the intersection of Main Street.

As you pass the school you proceed down Burleigh Hill and cross Tannery Flat where for many years stood mills for the processing of animal hides. William Wells and C.C. Warren had tanneries located across Thatcher Brook. On this flat stood the first two houses to be demolished in the 1927 flood.

MILL VILLAGE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Mill Village is the area of Stowe Street just north of three overpasses of Interstate 89. The outstanding natural feature of the district is Thatcher Brook, which drops approximately 50 feet in a very short distance. The buildings date mostly from the mid- to late 19th century when Mill Village was an active industrial area. There were three dams on the brook to power a number of industries. Today it is a quiet residential area.

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THE GRIST MILL, Waterbury Feed Company, 92 Stowe Street, is the only remnant of the industrial past of this neighborhood. A former grist and feed mill built around 1835, this squarish brick building has been restored recently after a long period of disuse and deterioration. Remnants of the dam and penstock are at the rear of the building.

24. At 103 Stowe Street is the RYDER-BAKER HOUSE, built about 1850. This Greek Revival house has also been restored following a disastrous fire. Stylistic highlights of this house are the three-bay portico, temple front and recessed second floor porch. It is the finest design example in the district.

25. SEABURY-JEWETT HOUSE, 100 Stowe Street, is a neo- colonial of wood frame and brick veneer with wood shingles above. Note the brick porch with battered piers supporting the roof, a two-story bay, and a roof dormer.

26. The REVEREND BROWN HOUSE, 111 Stowe Street is a good example of the combined residential and working agricultural structure so common to rural Vermont. It dates to about 1855. An extended ell connects the house to two barns.

Due to its harmonious architecture and streetscapes, the overall effect of Mill Village is a visually pleasing unit; but the thread of its industrial past links the buildings through their common focus on the water power of Thatcher Brook and makes the area a coherent example of 19th century industrial Vermont.

Continue up the hill to view other houses, and cross Thatcher Brook to Route 100. Turn right (north) and pass through the district called Colbyville, where two waterfalls provided power for a variety of industries beginning about 1800 when a wool carding mill at the lower falls and a potato whiskey plant at the upper falls existed. Later the Colby brothers began the manufacture of willow ware - largely baby buggies. In the mid-1900s this area included 15 buildings and employed 60-100 men.

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The COLBY MANSION, built by George Colby about 1871 is an unusual high-style structure following Mr. Colby's theory of architecture which fostered local climatic conditions over classical orders. The Mansion's appearance has been revived. The interior contains largely original design and woodwork while the exterior also maintains its original charm.

As you continue north on Route 100, you will be paralleling the tracks of the Mount Mansfield Electric Railroad which was completed December 18, 1897, and ceased operation on May 2, 1932. The route was 11.9 miles long running from Waterbury to Stowe carrying freight, passengers and mail. Take the first right after Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory (Guptil Road).

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The GUPTIL FARMHOUSE, second building on the right, is an excellent example of a Greek Revival farmhouse built circa 1845. A classic cottage, this five-bay 1-1/2-story structure has twin interior chimneys. The unusually elaborate central door is framed by pilasters and Doric columns, three-quarter sidelights, and a full transom. The barn across the road (now Tanglewoods Restaurant) replaced an older barn in 1944. The 131-acre farm ceased operations in 1961, yet fifth-, sixth-, and seventh- generations of the original family still reside on the property.

Driving farther on Guptil Road you will notice the intermingling of old and new buildings. As you approach Waterbury Center, across from the Post Office, note the farm on the right with its eight-bay brick farmhouse and barn (MINOTT HOUSE).

Green Mountain Seminary
Green Mountain Seminary
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Beyond the green, on hollow Road, stands the GREEN MOUNTAIN SEMINARY building. It was completed in 1869 as the Free Will Baptist Seminary, with an entering class of 106 gentlemen and 104 young ladies. The two lower floors were used as classrooms with the third and fourth for gentlemen's rooming. Note the entrances on intersecting wings and on the gable ends of the main structure. A belfry tower and walkway were removed in 1941; the exterior of the building is largely in original condition.

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Return to Route 100 by continuing along Hollow Road and turn right to see the WATERBURY CENTER COMMUNITY CHURCH, completed in 1833. It contains timbers from the Lyon farm and bricks four layers thick to support the walls. In 1858 a second floor was added. This is now the sanctuary, reached by stairways on either side of the double-door entrance. During the Iranian hostage crisis, the marvelous old bell, brought from Boston in the 1880s, was rung once daily for each hostage. On the day of their release the bell pealed 444 times.

Also visit LITTLE RIVER STATE PARK, where the reservoir covers what had once been some of the area's most fertile farmland. Take a hike to the "ghost settlement" on Ricker Mountain following a map/guide from the park ranger station. To reach the state park, drive from the intersection of Route 100 on Route 2 west for 1.7 miles, turn right and follow the signs to the park. On your way to Little River State Park, notice the EZRA BUTLER HOUSE at 73 North Main Street. This is the home of Waterbury's first permanent settler, Ezra Butler. This was the first frame house built about 1800. Ezra Butler was also the 13th Governor of Vermont.

This concludes this historic walking tour.

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