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South Woodstock Village

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Much as North Chester is known for its “Stone Village,” South Woodstock is noteworthy for brick buildings, most from the early nineteenth century in the arched-panel style characteristic of Windsor County. In 1779 brothers Jabez and Warren Cottle built cabins within an upper intervale of Kedron Brook, which flows north to the Ottauquechee River. Jabez constructed the first gristmill in 1781 and a fulling mill thereafter. The waterpower soon attracted other trades and commerce, including a tannery, blacksmith, cabinet-makers, and several stores, one run by Warren Cottle. In 1796, Warren built a handsome Flemish bond brick Georgian-plan home overlooking the stream valley, which now defines the southern end of the village (the entrance and Palladian window were added c. 1825). At what is now the north end of the village, Richard Ransom began a store in the 1780s and in 1794 built a gabled wooden structure to house it. In 1800, across from the store on Town Highway 61, he built his two-story, Georgian house, an early wood-frame example of the gable-front, five-by-five-bay types that became popular throughout the upper Connecticut River Valley.

Warren Cottle moved to Missouri shortly after 1798, but Jabez remained in a modest frame house on “Cottle Ridge” overlooking his mills, until he replaced it in 1812 with a brick Georgian-plan house, the first in the village to use arched-panel masonry above its first-floor windows, entrance, and Palladian window above. With at least one brickyard nearby, brick buildings gradually appeared in the growing village, and within the next twenty years, eight brick structures were erected. Richard Ransom Jr. took over his father's business, and in 1822 built the National Store at the main intersection in the village. The two-story, gable-front store is a more fully developed example of the arched-panel brick style with panels above its windows and a segmental-arched wall-panel arcade that defines its three-bay front. Oliver Willard served as master mason, and was perhaps responsible for some of the similar masonry buildings in the area. Next door, in 1826, Ransom partnered with Richard Mather to build the two-story, brick National Hotel (now part of Kedron Valley Inn; 10671 South Road). In 1825 residents constructed their third school building, a two-story brick structure, just south of the store on the bank of Kedron Brook. And about the same time farther south along the brook, John A. Cottle, who took over his father's business interests with his brother Jabez Jr., built a brick central-hall house, which is another notable example of the panel-brick style. Though the upland rural population declined after 1830, the village still gained a new wood-frame multidenominational Universalist chapel in 1833 and in 1848 a Universalist academy (WS32). Thereafter the village settled into the rural rhythms of a small hill town center. A fourth district school (1906) in Queen Anne style was the most distinguished addition to the village until South Woodstock became a haven of horse lovers and preservationists in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson

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