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Champlain Byways “Ask an Expert” about architecture

March 1st, 2011 · No Comments

 Having been asked the question “What do you like about the Champlain Valley’s architecture?” I responded…

…the thing I find most interesting about the buildings of the
Champlain Valley, is how well represented every style and type of architecture is.
From the historic high style Victorians to vernacular farmhouses, all the way through
the post World War II building boom and the Modernist movement.


Driving north or south through the Valley one has the
opportunity to enjoy a rural farmhouse and its beautiful red barn in its
original context. Then as you get closer to a village the houses start to
reflect that “turn of the last century” development pattern. Closely built
Victorian homes, Italianate, Second Empire, and everyone’s favorite the Queen
Anne, all  forming a tightly spaced and
tightly knit community around a Main Street that is the picture of Americana, every
advertisers dream.

Our small downtowns haven’t changed all that much since
their inception and even larger towns like Burlington, Saint Albans and
Vergennes have managed to fit the new, in with the old, in such a way that as
we walk around the town we can see those changing uses and tastes without
erasing history or forgetting the story of our built heritage.


And if driving through the countryside or walking around an
historic downtown wasn’t enough I can’t forget to mention the Shelburne Museum
or The Inn at Shelburne Farms. Two related, literally and figuratively, but
distinctly different approaches to exemplifying our cultural heritage. Electra
Havemeyer Webb created the Shelburne Museum in 1947 to hold her collections in
a setting that would create “an educational project, varied and alive”. She
relocated 20 historic buildings and the steamship Ticonderoga to accomplish
this. I think she did it!

The Inn at Shelburne Farms was built in 1886 by William
Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb. They planned the home and farm as a model
agricultural estate to experiment and teach efficient farming practices. In
1972 the heirs of William and Lila turned the family estate into an educational
nonprofit that continues the vision and dream of their forebears.

Tags: Champlain Valley Millworks · Value-Added Historic Preservation · Wanamaker Restoration

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