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Martin Chittenden House

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c. 1796, c. 1850. 267 VT 117

According to tradition, Thomas Chittenden, the first governor of Vermont, built this house as a wedding gift for his son Martin. Drawing on both the dominant frame and rarer masonry practices of its day, it provides insights into building in early Vermont. Inside is a hewn timber frame, infilled with broad wall planks faced with lath and plaster and capped by a hewn hipped-roof frame (now concealed beneath the sawn rafters of a gabled attic). Around this are handsomely laid brick walls, Flemish bond with splayed granite lintels on the front and unusual diapered Dutch cross-bond on the ends and back ell. The mix of bonds and the hipped roof suggest a connection with the Addison house of John Strong (AD2), Chittenden's colleague in early Vermont public life. The two houses share a central Palladian window and a similarly conceived entrance hall staircase. This house also shares its sophisticated brickwork with several other Chittenden homes in Williston and Richmond, perhaps indicating that the family employed a common mason.

Noteworthy within the finely detailed interior is the northeast parlor with complexly profiled cornice moldings and elaborate fireplace. The mantel on paneled pilasters carries an overmantel with bold rope moldings capped by a broken pediment and urn. Framed in this upper zone is one of the finest examples of patriotic wall painting in America—a federal eagle above the Vermont coat of arms, flanked by a liberty cap and the sixteen-star flag, current from 1796 to 1803.

Martin Chittenden, a congressman and Vermont's eighth governor, lived here for more than forty years. His successors remodeled the house in a Greek Revival fashion, building a gabled roof over the old-fashioned hipped roof and wrapping the upper walls with a heavy Greek entablature that obscures the second-floor lintels and collides with the Palladian window. They recut the Federal doorway to create an inset door and tall flanking sidelights beneath a rectangular granite lintel. A later owner reglazed the windows, which in the 1940s were returned to a twelve-over-twelve pattern, based on originals found in the barn, and, at the same time, the door was “colonial revivalized” with a broken pediment and urn.

Writing Credits

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

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Martin Chittenden House", [Jericho, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VT-01-CH52.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 172-173.

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