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Green Mountain Perkins Academy (Green Mountain Liberal Institute)
This frame building set above Kedron Brook is one of a handful of survivors from Vermont's once-significant genre of nineteenth-century academy buildings. Tiny South Woodstock may seem a surprising location for a private school that drew students from New England, the Midwest, and places as distant as Louisiana and Colorado. But it was a community interested in education, with a Social Library founded in 1797 that granted the academy free access to its collection and a Literary Fraternity founded in 1815. Also, as advertised in an early academy catalogue, it was “free from the many evil inducements incident to manufacturing and large places of business.” The school was chartered as the Green Mountain Liberal Institute in 1848 by a group of Univer salist ministers and laymen who organized a curriculum that included the arts and astronomy as well as the classics.
The institute occupied substantial academic quarters on land acquired from Jabez Cottle. The institute required church attendance but accepted nonconformism, thus its building avoided the Gothic overtones of some of its contemporaries. Instead, it is a straightforward, but dignified vernacular Greek Revival preferred by the area's Universalists. The gable-front building on granite foundations achieves a sense of probity and presence through its substantial size, dignity of proportions, and avoidance of applied decoration. Detailing is limited to narrow corner pilasters, a box cornice with corner returns, a broad sidelit entrance with full-width transom, and an open, parapeted, square-posted belfry on a short two-stage base. In 1870, following receipt of a legacy from Gaius Perkins, the school changed its name to Green Mountain Perkins Academy. It closed in 1898, but the Academy and Historical Association has preserved the building, and its interiors, including a large second-floor assembly room, are intact.
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