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Norton-Fenton House

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1838. 208 Pleasant St., Bennington village

In its location, format, and style this unusual house tells an important tale about the evolution of Bennington. John Norton began the first pottery operation on his farm in Bennington in 1797 along what is now Monument Avenue, south of Old Bennington village. In the 1830s his son and successor, Judge Luman Norton, relocated the operation to the industrial area on the plain east of and below Old Bennington, taking advantage of the power from the Walloomsac River and the important traffic corridors of the east–west Troy to Brattleboro Road (VT 9) and the north–south course of what is now U.S. 7. He acquired a deep tract in the east village that permitted the siting of his pottery works (1832) to the north along the river and his new house (1838) fronting on residential Pleasant Street.

The house, of brick with granite lintels and stepped end parapets, is suggestive of Hudson Valley connections. It is also Greek Revival, the first high style of the growing east village. It is a double, built for the households of both Judge Norton and his daughter Louise and son-in-law, Christopher Fenton. Fenton was a partner with Norton's son Julius in the saltware potteries and developer of the famous Bennington Parian porcelain that emulated English Staffordshire. The house is composed to read as a single grand design. Each end has its own elaborate frontispiece, now covered by recent porches, with door and sidelights framed by unfluted Ionic colonettes and a transom coordinated with a sophisticated discontinuous entablature. Secondary entrances for both houses are set in a recessed two-bay porch and screened by three colossal Ionic columns that carry a central pediment flush with the plane of the facade. Monumental, but also inventive and practical, the design of the house says much about the first generation of industrialists in Bennington village.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson
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Citation

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Norton-Fenton House", [Bennington, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VT-01-BE35.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 56-57.

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