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Black River Academy Museum (Black River Academy)

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Black River Academy
1888, Clinton G. Smith. 14 High St., Ludlow village

The Black River Academy dedicated its substantial new building in 1889, one year before the graduation of its most famous alumnus, Calvin Coolidge. The school had occupied temporary quarters in the Union Church since its 1835 original home burned in 1844. During its semicentennial celebration, school advocates launched a movement to rebuild with support from Ludlow's prospering milling and commercial community. Out-of-state alumni from as far as Indianapolis, Omaha, and Kansas City augmented local fund-raising. The result is this brick building that dominates High Street. Here Smith produced one of his most mature and Richardsonian designs, sharing characteristics with the town hall and Methodist church (AD20) he helped design in his hometown of Middlebury. It is cruciform in plan, with a high hipped roof that swells forward as a monumental gable enfolding a heavily capped corner tower on the front. The walls, their massiveness stressed by inset panels and corbeled cornices, are punctuated with round-arched openings of varied sizes and groupings. Belt courses of granite and textural brickwork coordinate the elements of the facades, vaulting above the arches of the windows. The most impressive of these arches, over the recessed main entrance, is six concentric brick courses deep and springs from clustered, stubby, granite columns. The school moved to new quarters in 1938. Its old home is now a museum and home of the Black River Historical Society.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Black River Academy Museum (Black River Academy)", [Ludlow, 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, 383-384.

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