We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, August 11. 2009
Vermont was settled later than most of New England, in the late 1700s by people from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Pioneers, attracted by cheap land. You could cut down all the trees and raise sheep, and the rivers provided endless power for mills. Woolen mills, stone-cutting marble and granite mills, lumber mills, etc. You could transport stuff down the rivers to the big Connecticut River.
They did cut down all the trees: by 1850 most of Vermont was denuded of forest, whether for lumber, grazing, charcoal, or firewood.
(In the 1700s, Vermont was considered part of the New York colony, but New Hampshire had claims on it. For a few decades, Vermont was the independent Republic of Vermont until they joined the union in 1792.)
After producing the woolen garments for World War 1, Vermont's mills slowly closed down, the Vermont wool biz (Big Wool moved west) dried up and was replaced by dairy for the distant cities when the trains came through. Now, with factory dairy, there isn't even much of that any more, and the trees have grown back (and so have the Moose, Black Bear, and White-Tailed Deer). The milk cows today spend all day in sheds until their productivity drops and they are turned into Mcdonalds burgers.
The wealth evident in the fine houses built in Woodstock from roughly 1800-1840 (replacing shacks, log cabins, and other humble dwellings) was a combination of its being a Shire town - a county seat with court and jail and lawyers - and the woolen mills. Those businesses attracted tradesmen and farmers, roads spread out, and the town thrived for a while. In 1830, this town of 3000 souls (then, and 3000 now!) had five newspapers.
Today, Woodstock is all about tourism, with endless interesting summer and winter events, and skiing, of course, in the winter. The village is preserved in amber by a fierce architectural review board and its designation as a National Historic District. Laurence Rockefeller had a lot to do with that (his Woodstock home is among the photos below the fold).
And, today, Vermont has the distinction of having the lowest per capita income in the US, having surpassed Mississippi a few years ago. The poorer they get, the further to the Left they move. It is not rational and it is utterly self-created (taxes and regs) and self-defeating, but it's a free country and, here at Maggie's Farm, we value the freedom of people to do stupid things if they want to. (I just hate it when people make obviously predictable mistakes on my nickel.)
The Wiki on Woodstock, VT here. Worth a visit. Bring camera.
I took the photos below early on Saturday morning. The temp was 48 degrees F at 5:30 when I typically go out to begin my exploring of a place (hence no people around in some of my photos). By mid-day, the temp got up to a balmy global warming crisis of 73 degrees.
I offer no architectural comments on the details of these structures. I don't have the time, and I lack the eye for detail that Mrs. BD has. My brain tends towards weight, balance, harmony, and emotional comfort - and only notices detail when it intrudes. However, I do know and believe that God is in the details. More on that later (maybe).
Many fun photos below the fold. All of these buildings are in town -
An old mill by a stream and a WPA bridge:
There are a few Victorians scattered around from a later era. Not too many, though, and these wedding cake dwellings hurt my eyes:
The core of the main drag, as in most small towns in America, was replaced between the late 1800s and WW1 with brick or stone store and office blocks. They were the modern malls of their time. Before that, the core downtowns were mostly shops, craftsmen, professionals and tradesmen who lived above the shop: shoemakers, cabinetmakers, doctors, barber/surgeon/dentists, harnessmakers, lawyers, wheelwrights, mechanics, blacksmiths, candlemakers, booksellers, tobacconists, wagon-makers, etc., etc.
These "new" blocks look about the same everywhere in America. Suburbanization, cars, strip malls, big box stores, etc have made them obsolete in many - but not all - towns today. Definitely not in change-phobic Vermont...except for hopey-changey Obama change. Don't ask me what they want except other peoples' money. They do not want WalMart or Costco or anything else that brings jobs and business. Vermont, sad to say, lives in a fairy tale supported by out of state tourist dollars and federal "generosity." A welfare pixie-dust State, for certain, living off the fat of the rest of the nation.
Gillingham's General Store, in the same family for over 100 years. The current Gillingham was changing the lightbulbs when we were there. That's what proprietors do: they do it all themselves, in the end. A nation of shopkeepers (and farmers), thank goodness.
An 1820 duplex on the Green. The side addition, no doubt, for a child's family in the family business.
Another one, also on the Green:
An 1810 brick Cape:
From around 1790, in the old style:
More, better photos later, as I organize my stash of pics -
Woodstock, VT architecture, Part 2
If you missed Part 1, it's here (with a little bit of Vermont history). In the early 1800s, few towns had architects. They did have builders. And they had Pattern Books. Pattern books were like blueprints, produced by well-known or entrepren
Weblog: Maggie's Farm
Tracked: Aug 13, 13:02
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Good observations and nice pix. Like the last house the best.
Where did you get the info that Vermont has the lowest per capita income? I did a quick search and wikipedia listed it as 21st. Not griping, just wondering..
According to the Tax Foundation, Vermont ranked 22nd in per capita income in 2008, close to what Wikipedia says as per the comment above. Here is the applicable Tax Foundation page:
I wonder if it ranks low in disposable income, which might make more sense.
Small towns everywhere are slowly dying, or carrying on as zombies. The underlying economics have changed, and family disintegration and demographics mean the more productive folks don't fit in well in a small town. Lots of older people stay, and with employment having moved elsewhere it is hard to staff volunteer fire departments and other civic functions since the working men travel out of town during the day.
The second house is the least Vermont of the bunch. Except for the pitch of the roof above the rear porch addition, it would fit in anywhere from Maryland or Virginia to upstate New York. The rest of them, except for the 1820 duplex, could only be New England and especially Vermont.
Just a comment. the reason there is a "Gillingham's General Store, in the same family for over 100 years", is because Home Depot, and Lowes, and Walmart, aren't around to drive them out of business. Because of those "fairy tale" regulations. And the lovely town is still here, and hasn't been suburbanized by sprawl out of existence. Same "fairy tale" regulations. Keeps the place looking nice, so guys like you can take pictures, and talk rhapsodies on it's charm. Maybe the people who live there like their lovely little town the way it is. Eventually, when the madness for huge stores and suburban sprawl dissipates one day, this will be one of the places that will remain to teach people what a small town is supposed to be like.
I have a problem with the "keep out the big box store" attitude. If you want to keep the town in some sort of time warp past ideal, buy the property and run things as you see fit. I run a small business and there is nothing worse for business than self appointed social engineers planning our future. Zoning, after the fact, should be against the law, but unfortunately it happens all the time. The socialist unelected bureaucrats continue their expansion. (Though in Vermont, they do elect their socialists!) You continue to put your hand in my pocket to finance your agenda.
Stan, you are foolish if you think that letting Walmart and Home Depot have the run of towns like Woodstock represents a more democratic (with a small "d") means of planning than via "unelected bureaucrats." In my opinion, Vermont's efforts to rein in big box stores like Walmart actually represent a triumph of local democracy and community over the narrow interests of corporations and local Chambers of Commerce.
True, Gillingham's doesn't have the price and selection of a Walmart, but it has something no Walmart store has or ever will have: a local history and a commitment to the town. Mr. Gillingham has ties to the building and ties to the place. Businesses like his are what keep the main street a thriving place, and what keep Woodstock a place worth caring about. If the grocery bill is 10 percent higher, a Woodstock resident might say it's a small price to pay for the added quality of life. At the very least, the existence of a place like Woodstock gives people a choice as to what sort of community they would like to live in. Or at least, makes people aware there IS a choice.
If you have a problem with Vermont's philosophy on this issue, you can easily move to any of the other 49 states, and enjoy driving down the same commercial strip with the same lineup of Targets, McDonalds, Borders, Taco Bells and Rite Aids. It's an ugly, bland and repetitive landscape, but at least the crap they sell is cheap.
Yes! Great point! Small businesses are much better at helping keep the local market thriving, instead of sending all the $ to out of state corporations or China.
Please cite the reference to Vermont sinking below Mississippi. I'd love to use it, but without a source...
All data searched doesn't support the statement.
Sounds a lot like Maine when you get above Castine. Problem is, you need to look at the per-capita income and increase by at least 30% since I don't know of anyone who doesn't have a considerable income from bartering and off the book income.
We went to a wedding near Woodstock last weekend. We were charmed by the natural beauty and the quaint small towns, but on the highways and byways we did see a lot of poverty; poor shacks, trailers, piles of junk, homes in disrepair. Our friends told us how the Democrats, when campaigning, promised benefits to the needy...and that's probably how they managed to move so far Left.
HAVING NEVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY OF VISITING VERMONT AND SINCE IT IS ONE MY BUCKET LIST, I REALLY ENJOYED THE PICTURES AND COMMENTS! I LOVE COLONIAL BLDGS. AND LIVING IN KS. HAVE VERY LITTLE LIKE THIS AROUNG. THANKS, YOUR PICTURES ARE GREAT!
My father who is from Vermont says he would never move back because of a) too high taxes b) too many liberals, the state that gave us Calvin Coolidge now has a gay parade through Burlington. In my Dad's time that would have been unthinkable. Basically the people from Mass and New York moved in and bought up the place, brought there leftist thinking with them and ruined it much like California libs do to surrounding states.
Jonah Goldberg had an article some years back in National Review after what an awful state Vermont had become. Worth reading.
The movie Ghost Story was filmed in Woodstock Vt around 1980. Quite a bit of Woodstock is seen in the film, not so much in the trailer. I think it was the last film for some big old time stars, Houseman, Melvin Douglas, Fred Astare, and Doug Fairbanks Jr.
20 mins. away from me, there definitely some nice little towns around here.