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Putney Historic District: Description of Putney and its Historic Buildings

National Register Nomination Information: DESCRIPTION: A small mill village in the Connecticut River Valley, the Putney Village Historic District extends to the north and south from a compact center near the falls of Sackett's Brook. The spacious northerly extension encompasses the formal, late 18th and early 19th century farmhouses that formed the original village center, while the southerly extension includes the less architecturally cohesive and more heavily trafficked U.S. Route 5, as well as two small branch roads. Most of the 107 primary buildings in the district are clapboard, slate roofed, 1-1/2 to 2-1/2-story houses. Federal style or vernacular examples of the Georgian Plan and I-House configurations predominate, though vernacular Greek Revival or early Italianate style, 1-1/2-story, gable front, Sidehall Plan houses are also numerous. Capes, Classic Cottages, and diverse late 19th and early 20th century vernacular houses are represented as well. While 22 buildings are non contributing, they are counterbalanced by the generally high architectural quality found in the district. Of special note is the striking, close-knit streetscape of stores and small workers' houses that stretches to:the top of Kimball Hill from the highly focal district center. That center is marked by several large, non-residential buildings of diverse periods. The A.M. Corser Store, #51 (south section), and the massive, hip roofed, Georgian Plan tavern, #52, are the two primary visual focal points there, and have historically been hubs of social activity as well. The store, which has two eaves front, 2-story bay windows, terminates the impressive Kimball Hill streetscape, and can be seen from far to:the south on U.S. Route 5. Equally prominent, the late 18th or early 19th century tavern across the street is the centerpiece of an impressive, curving row of five public-oriented buildings that unite Westminster West Road with U.S. Route 5. Those south of the tavern, the brick Methodist Church, #69, and the Town Hall, #67, are major landmarks for travelers from the north and south. Those northwest of the tavern, the Congregational Church, #47, and the Masonic Hall, #49, contribute formality to the most densely built up section of the district. Also marking the district core are a 1-story brick paper mill, and the Baptist Church, #63, both located on"Christian Square" a small loop opposite the intersection with Westminster West Road. On the small island in that intersection stood, in the early 20th century, a bandstand that helped to visually tie all these elements together. Nearly 30% of the buildings in the district date from before 1830, almost all of which are houses. Of those, half have a clearly distinguishable style. While buildings of this period are scattered in the southern half of the district, the finest examples are found both at the district center, and lining the spacious and rolling Westminster West Road.to the north. Many of the latter stand on artificial hillocks set back from the road, and are fronted by rows of locust trees. Of special note on that road are #3, a vernacular Georgian style I-House with corner and entry quoins, #19, a 1772 Cape, and #'s 2 and 11, brick-ended, Federal style I-Houses with unusual facade ornamentation (#11 however, is covered with aluminum siding). Two of the most ornate Federal style houses, #'s 27 and 32, stand atop Kimball Hill, facing the village center below rather than the road, and act as gateways to Westminster Road. In the district center itself, #'s 41, 46 and 66 are also excellent examples of this style, and #52 is an excellent example of a tavern of a slightly earlier period. While the Georgian and Federal period is dominant in the district overall, the Greek Revival period, which accounts for 22 structures, most slgnificantly shaped the district center. Several prominent examples of the Greek Revival style the Congregational and Methodist churches, #'s 47 and 69, the Masonic Hall, #49, and #70, a house with a 2-story portico, are located there, as is a particularly unusual example of the style, #39, a small gable front house with a unique, fanciful door in an ornate surround. The latter is one of four generally similar houses that establish a rythm of gables that climb Kimball Hill. Two stores built in the Greek Revival period, #51 (north and south sections), terminate that streetscape. See entire description of Putney Historic District at National Register website.


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