Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stone Buildings of Cavendish

Throughout Cavendish are a number of buildings made of “sneckered Ashlar” construction. This technique 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 rubble stone. Oral tradition indicates that Scottish stonemasons working in Canada were responsible for introducing the technique into Vermont.

While there are several local sources for the mica schist stone, it is believed that the former quarry at the end of Tierney Rd in Cavendish was the source for the stone for at least the Cavendish Stone Church and Glimmerstone. 


Information about the Stone Buildings in Chester, VT is available  at “The Stone Village.” 

Below is a history of a few of the stone buildings in Cavendish:

Cavendish Stone Church 1844: The mason John Adams, over saw the construction of the church. Working with him was another mason Clark Wardner, from Reading.  Together, they also built “Glimmerstone” on route 131, as well as other places in Chester and Reading Vermont.

The cost to construct the Church was $1,515. Money for the construction and maintenance, was raised by selling pews, which ranged in price from $30-$90, depending on the pew’s location to the pulpit. Because this was considered “property,” owners were required to pay a tax on their pew. Of the 48 pews, 26 still bear the original nameplates of the first owners.

The abolitionist Rev. Warren Skinner, laid the first corner stone and preached the first sermon in the church.

By the 1930’s, the church was primarily being used in the summers only. This was also the time period when the church was wired for electricity. The Church was decommissioned April 22, 1966 as there were only a few Universalist members in the area.  On June 10, 1971, the Church was leased to the Cavendish Historical Society.

On May 11, 2013, the Universalist/Unitarian Convention of Vermont and Quebec met at the Stone Church and agreed to deed the Church to the Town.

The interior of the church continues to be largely unchanged since it’s construction. It is currently being restored and will be the future home of the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exhibit and a small venue space for community use.

Glimmerstone  1845: Located on route 131, it was originally built for Henry N. Fullerton, at that time manager of the Black River Manufacturing and Canal Company in Duttonsvile (today known as Cavendish Village). American Gothic in style, the designer was Lucius Paige, a local carpenter-inventor. The masons were John Adams and Clark Warner.

The house has had a number of owners and has served multiple purposes. During the prohibition era, Art Hadley, who would later become extremely wealthy as the inventor of the expansion bracelet, used it as part of a rum running operation. His sister, Una Gay, was married to Leon Gay, one of owners of the Gay Brothers Mill, which took the place of the Black River Manufacturing and Canal Company. Pictures of the home as in appeared in 1910 and during the time the Gays lived there, are available on-line. 

In the last 20 years, Glimmerstone has undergone major renovations to restore it to its original configuration, but with modifications for a modern kitchen, brew pub etc., so that it could operate as an inn. It is currently a private residence that is available for weddings and whole house rentals.

The Spaulding Place: Located in Cavendish village, next to the town office, on High St., was built in 1830 for Asa Wheeler and Salmon Dutton by Hail Bates. In 1833 Hail bought the house from Wheeler and Dutton for $50 and resold it the next day to Otis Robbins for $750. The house has always been a private residence.

Black River Health Center Building: Erected in 1839 as a store by Daniel Wheeler and George Davis, in the 1870s, Walker Bent ran a drug store there. He sold the building to George Mandigo and his wife for $1,500 in 1891 with “the express understanding that said premises are to be fitted up immediately for hotel purposes.” Large porches were added along with a livery stable. It was named the Hotel Elliott in 1902.


The hotel burned in 1908 and was rebuilt as a boarding house in 1912. The Gay Brothers Mill purchases the building for storage and eventually a hotel. It’s operated as the Cavendish Inn starting in 1928 until 1948, being used by teachers and Mill workers.

The building went with the Gay Brothers Mill property when it was sold to Kenwood Mills  in 1951. In 1956, the current Mill owners donated the building for use as the Black River Health Center. Members of the community donated their time to renovate the building while workers at Kenwood Mills had $1 a week withheld from their pay to help for the establishment of the Health Center.

Doctors Bont and Lawrence Bixby set up practice in 1957, obtaining a 501 (c) 3 non-profit status in the 1970s. In 1988, Dr. Bont and his wife Phyllis, a nurse practitioner left BRHC to work at Albany Medical Center.


Over the ensuing years, various medical groups tried to maintain a health center but were not successful. The Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) was housed there for a short while. The longest standing occupant since the Bonts left was Opportunities in Learning (OIL), a school for students whose needs were better met outside the traditional classroom. The facility currently houses mental health counselors and alternative care practitioners.

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