Stone Village Historic District (1838-60) – lintel detail
North Street (Route 103), Chester, Vermont USA • The Stone Village Historic District: Although there are 55 such stone buildings in Windsor County, this stretch is notable for having ten in close proximity. Their unique construction dates back to 1838, when the cost for a stone house was five dollars a week plus a jug of good rum. Brothers Orison (or Alison) and Wiley Clark learned the art of “sneckled ashlar” stonework while helping construct the locks for Canada’s Welland Canal. Upon their return to Vermont, the two used locally quarried slabs of granite, gneiss, and schist—the latter being laden with sparkly mica and easily split, explaining its use on the outside surface of the buildings—to build the stone houses.
The “sneckled ashlar” technique required stones ranging in size from 4 x 6 inches to 3 x 4 feet to be laid end to end, with cross stones placed horizontally every few feet for added stability. The resulting walls, which could be up to 24-inches thick, were then internally reinforced with moss and horsehair.
Although all the stone houses were built in the same manner, there are a variety of different styles. One was built as a gift to the doctor who rehabilitated an injured worker in his home. Another, now the Stone House Collectibles Bed & Breakfast [at 196 North St.], was where Olivia Goldsmith wrote First Wives Club in 2001. There’s also Bonnie’s Bundles (a doll shop inside a residential stone house) and the beautiful First Unitarian Parish church, organized in 1798.
Some of the stone houses include secret rooms that were once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Many extend back beyond the stone portion of the house in typical New England style, giving them a surprisingly roomy feel inside and allowing their original residents to complete chores without having to leave the warmth of the house. – From A Walking Tour of Chester.
☞ On May 17, 1974, the National Park Service added the Stone Village Historic District (also known as Stone Houses at Chester Depot) to the National Register of Historic Places (#74000329).
The Stone Village Historic District … lies northerly of the Village District, on either side of Route 103 between the bridge over the Williams River northerly to the “Tavern” building, a distance of about 0.6 of a mile. The Stone Village is set in the Williams River Valley, where the river’s alluvial plane opens to the west of the community and provides an expansive view to the opposite bluff about a quarter-mile away. The base of Mt. Flamstead is near the rear of the structures on the east side of the two-lane, tree-lined, paved VT Route 103, and the hillside provides a striking backdrop to the village. Of the 18 buildings that comprise this Historic District, 13 of the buildings are fine, well-maintained examples of “snecked ashlar” construction. The buildings described in this historic district are a church, a school, a tavern, a barn and 14 residences. – From the Chester Town Plan.
☞ This construction technique [also spelled “sneckled"] refers to walls constructed with exterior and interior surfaces composed of mortared stone slabs arranged vertically on edge, tied together with smaller horizontal slabs called "snecks." The space between the wall surfaces was filled with rubblestone. Oral tradition tells us that Scottish stone masons working in Canada were responsible for introducing the technique into Vermont. Buildings of this type date from 1832 to 1860. – From an email from Judith Ehrlich.
• More Info: GeoHack: 43°16′24″N 72°35′35″W.