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Alexander-Davis House

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c. 1828, c. 1840. Main St., 150 feet east of Grafton Rd., Grafton village

This house, fronted by a monumental portico with an arched, recessed balcony porch in its attic story, is a good example of the Connecticut River Valley porch and illustrates its development in close association with early hostelries. Lucius Alexander purchased this lot in 1826 and soon built a two-and-a-half-story, brick, side-hall house. In 1829 he purchased an adjoining dam and wool fulling mill and two years later took on a partner, Peter Dean, to whom he sold a lot to the west of the house. Here Dean built a similar brick, side-hall house in the Federal style. When fire destroyed the mill in 1839, Alexander moved to New Hampshire and Dean found a new partner and rebuilt the mill.

A Grafton farmer, Thomas Davis, purchased Alexander's house and enlarged it into the Eagle Hotel. He added two bays to the east side to create a five-bay, gable-front form and he rebuilt the roof to create a monumental portico with a recessed balcony porch then popular throughout much of eastern Vermont. The windowsills are made of local Grafton soapstone, a material commonly used in the region for chimney floors and backs. Davis distinguished his hotel from its competition by banning alcohol, so it became known as the “Temperance Hotel.” He hired an itinerant stenciler, probably Moses Eaton Jr. of Dublin, New Hampshire, to decorate the central stair hall in green and red patterns on ochre. Davis ran the hotel until 1853, when the Temperance movement succeeded in legislating a ban (lasting until 1904) on the manufacture and sale of alcohol throughout Vermont. The hotel then reverted to a private home, as it remains today.

Writing Credits

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

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Alexander-Davis House", [Grafton, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VT-01-WH6.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 398-398.

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