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Chipman's Point

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1810, c. 1824. West end of Chipman Point Rd., Lake Champlain
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

Chipman's Point on Lake Champlain in Orwell has two excellent lakefront warehouses that typify lake landings from the period when water was the fastest means of travel and the main highway of commerce. In 1805 Joseph Sholes purchased a lakefront site where he opened a tavern and, c. 1810, allowed Walter Chipman to construct a four-story brick and stone warehouse. Chipman became the first postmaster in Orwell and gave his name to the point around the same time. A sail ferry began about 1820, and Sholes built his own stone warehouse next to Chipman's around 1824, shortly after the opening of the Champlain Branch of the Erie Canal, which extended lake trade to New York and Buffalo. As the shipping center for the industrial village of Brandon and rural towns as far as Rochester in the Green Mountains, Chipman's Point flourished during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Though the ferry continued even after railroads took over the freight business in the 1850s, trade at the point fell off rapidly. After 1900 the buildings were unoccupied until a seasonal marina business opened in 1946.

Both gabled warehouses have two stories atop exposed two-story basements set into the land side sloping site, with four stories facing the lakeside wharf and only two accessed atop the hill. The above-grade stories of the Chipman warehouse are built in brick laid in common bond with marble lintels and sills, atop a two-story basement of large uncoursed rubble stone; the Sholes warehouse is built of coursed rubble stone. Each warehouse floor has a window centered on either side of a central loading door, and each gable peak extends to shelter a hoist for the loading ropes and tackle. Inside, the upper floors are open end to end for storage and both retain the attic wooden flywheels used with the lakeside gable hoist. Both buildings have a small office tucked into one corner of the ground floor. The warehouses at Chipman's Point rival their surviving contemporaries in Vergennes, Middlebury, Larrabee's Point in Shoreham, and across the lake in Essex, New York.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Chipman's Point", [Orwell, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 133-134.

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