Wildwood Hall ("The Castle" - Kjellerup House)
Municipality: Newbury, VT
Location: Prospect Hill
Site Type: House
Vt Survey No: --
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 733050. N: 4883550
National Register Nomination Information:
Situated on a hill overlooking the Village of Newbury, the Kjellerup House is a 2 1/2 story stone and wood frame house built with a diversification of materials and an irregularity of massing, around an "L"-shaped plan. Covered with slates, the roof is gabled in the main section and gambreled in the ell.
The house is approached by stone steps that lead to a first story, open entrance porch built around an uncoursed fieldstone foundation, covered by a shed roof supported by three fieldstone piers. This porch contains the southeast (main) entrance, set at an angle at the juncture of the main house with an ell. The porch contains a bay window projecting from the east wall of the first story.
The first story is built with uncoursed fieldstone, with imbricated wood shingles covering the next 1 1/2 stories. The shingles flare slightly above a plain wooden belt course, which divides the two materials. The gable end has an exterior end-chimney, projecting off-center to the pitch of the gable. The chimney is constructed of uncoursed fieldstone, corresponding to that of the first floor wall, separated from the smaller upper stone by a large dressed stone. The basement and first floor lintels also have large dressed stone blocks.
The fenestration throughout the house is irregular. The south wall contains one large window on the first floor gable end next to the chimney, with a slightly smaller window directly above. An oval stained glass window in a wide surround is located to the right of the chimney, with a small rectangular window contained within the gable peak. A jerkinhead roof dormer is located on the gable and gambrel roofs, between which sits a round turret with a conical roof and three windows.
The north (rear) elevation contains a first-story level porte-cochere, supported by two stone piers. The roof is flat and contains a Queen-Anne style balustrade. A multipaned window illuminates the second floor stairwell of the house. Both the east and west elevations contain irregular, multi-paned fenestration, the west elevation also containing a small first story open shed porch with decorative carved brackets.
The interior plan of the house is a typical Queen Anne plan, and contains the original paneling and woodwork in a remarkable state of preservation without restoration. The reception or main hall floor is in mosaic marble and the main hall, library and music room of oak, maple and mahogany paneling. The dining room, den and halls are wainscoted in quartered oak. The library wall is finished in sycamore, while the music room is finished in white maple. In the den and dining room are pressed brick fireplaces. In terms of the upper floor, the front bedroom chambers are of cypress and the main stairway hall of quartered oak. A water reservoir tank is located on the third floor, providing for the bathrooms located in each bedroom chamber.(1)
The grounds of the house contain a one-story stone utility shed, with shed roof, erected about the time of the building of the main residence. Although the original landscape of the house has not survived, the grounds are presently planted in keeping with the nineteenth century character of the estate.
"Wildwood Hall" in Newbury is significant in terms of both its architecture and the site upon which the building sits. Known locally as "The Castle," the building represents stylistically a form of the shingle style that became extremely popular in nineteenth century America as "resort" architecture. Built during a period when Vermont was attracting and displaying wealth in the form of the summer home, "Wildwood Hall" provides a contrast to the state's vernacular building traditions of the earlier nineteenth century.
Timothy Dwight, in his Travels in New England and New York, recorded in 1799, from a prospect within the Town of Newbury, Vermont:
The expansion in which Haverhill and Newbury are built is seen from this place with the highest advantage. As we cast our eyes up and down the river, itself an object extremely beautiful, and with its romantic meanders extensively in view, a chain of intervals, sometimes on one and sometimes on both sides, reaching from north to south not less than ten or twelve miles, spread before us like a new Eden, covered with the richest verdure and displaying a thousand proofs of exuberant fertility. This spot was bounded on both sides by rising grounds, now sloping, now abrupt, always interesting, and overspread alternately with forests, farms and villages. Beyond these a train of hills throughout the whole extent, adorned with a variety of summits and terminating at the southwestern limit in the noble bluff, which I have mentioned under the name of Sawyers Mountain, formed an elegant transition from the interior to the superior parts of the landscape.(1)The view, from Newbury's 'Prospect Hill,' remained unaltered until the 14th of July, 1893, when the ground was broken for the erection of a large house for George H. Moore. Moore had purchased the land, totaling approximately 11 acres, from Alexander Greer in September of 1892, and in the interim had obtained the services of William M. Butterfield of Manchester, New Hampshire as architect and Martin Perkins, building contractor, to execute the construction of the house.
Butterfield learned the architectural profession in Maine, and began practice in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1882. His work throughout New Hampshire included a great many residences in the shingle style and Queen Anne, and was therefore a good choice for Moore's Vermont residence.(2)
The press reported the building progress, noting in July, 1894, that:
"The palatial residence of George H. Moore on Prospect Hill is nearing completion. The whole interior is being finished in elegant designs of rare wood, the George brothers having the oil and dressing in hand and when completed will be the finest work in design and execution in this section of New England."(3)The Moores' stay in the house was brief, for Mr. Moore died in 1905 and his wife in 1912. The property was then sold to Walter Drant, and in 1929 his daughter, Edith had put the property up for sale. Notice of the sale appeared in the Barre Daily Times of August 23, 1929. The notice read as follows: "The property known as 'Wildwood Hall' is sold by Miss Edith Drant to William B. Swift of the International Harvester Company, of Chicago, Ill. This is one of the finest residences in our state, built some 20 years ago by George H. Moore of Detroit, Michigan, at a cost of $60,000. Vermont is attracting men of wealth. Again we predict Vermont to be the playground of the nation."(4) Unfortunately, the Depression dampened the paper's prediction and Swift's enjoyment of his summer home was cut short. The house had been abandoned when Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kjellerup purchased it on the 17th of December, 1943, from the Swifts of Chicago. The Kjellerups have preserved and maintained the property to the present day with only minor and minimal structural repair.
(1) Dwight, Timothy. Travels in New England and New York. Cambridge: Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 1969, V.2 pp. 218-219.
(2) "William M. Butterfield": Granite Monthly. V. 34, No. 3, (March, 1903) pp. 145-152.
(3) Bradford United Opinion, July, 1894.
(4) Barre Daily Times. August 23, 1929.
DATE ENTERED: October 2, 1978.
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