Judge David Hibbard Homestead
Municipality: Concord, VT
Location: Woodland Road
Site Type: House
Vt Survey No: 0505-27
UTMs: (Zone 18)
National Register Nomination Information:
On a high plateau in the western corner of the town of Concord, Vermont, sits the Judge David Hibbard Homestead. Approximately one and one half miles northwest of the Concord village center on Woodland Road, the 160 acre property contains four historic buildings, two structures, flat and rolling fields, and forested woodlands. Around 1814 Judge David Hibbard built the stately Federal style house, which is unique in Essex County and northern Vermont because of its intricate hand-carved and planed Federal style trim adapted from the Doric order of Greek architecture. Judge Hibbard, a man of refined taste, was also a farmer who worked his small diversified farm while he studied law, and later became a noted lawyer and judge in northern Vermont. The Hibbard homestead prospered as a farm under subsequent owners during the second half of the 19th century, continuing as dairy farm well into the 20th century. Centered around the c.1814 house (with its c.1805 ell), the related structures include the c. 1850 early barn, the c. 1900 spring house, the c. 1940 garage, c. 1930 shed, and c. 1940 equipment shed. Taken together, these buildings illustrate Vermont's historical and architectural heritage from the early 1800s to the 1940s. The house, related structures, and landscape retain their integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
1. House, c. 1814
Main Block: The main or front (south) facade displays the elaborate entrance surround which is the outstanding feature of the exterior, as well as many other decorative details which adorn all facades of the main block. A top beaded water table board defines the bottom edge of the facade, and side beaded corner pilasters are supported by square bases topped by molded astragal trim details. The molded bases of the pilasters are replacements that were carefully reproduced from ghost profile marks of the original astragal moldings found on the original clapboards. The double hung windows appear to be in their original openings and are regularly spaced across the facade. The first story windows are approximately 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall by 3 feet 3 1/2 inches wide with reproduction picture frame trim. The one-over-one windows are historic replacements, and appear to date from the early 20th century. The second story windows, which rise to meet the cornice trim, are approximately the same width but slightly shorter than the first story windows. The second story windows have historic twelve-over-eight sash and original picture frame surround trim. New storm sash windows have been installed on the main block windows. A very narrow and delicate dentil frieze spans the top of the front wall just above the second story windows
The Doric cornice at the eaves has a highly ornamented soffit with carved mutules, or blocks, each pierced on the flat underside with six drilled shadow holes to resemble guttae (which on classical Doric architecture were generally small cone shaped or cylindrical pendants rather than pierced ornamentation). Above the soffit, a flat fascia board is trimmed along the top with a delicate row of cone shaped dentils, resembling classical guttae. A graceful cyma recta molding tops the Doric cornice.
The Federal style entrance surround, which is approximately 10 feet tall (measured from the top of the granite door sill) and 7 feet 10 inches wide, has elements borrowed from the Doric order but is not strictly Doric in composition. The intact surround is constructed of intricately carved pieces of wood held together with cut nails and narrow wooden pegs. Painted at least several times over the centuries, and now mostly bare and weathered, the surround shows evidence of salmon colored paint on the door and the lower paneled areas flanking the door. The Christian cross door with six flat panels appears original and contains an early 19th century wrought iron latch. Six-light, two-third length sidelights above single flat panels flank the door, and a five-light transom tops the door. Narrow entry pilasters flank both the door and the sidelights. The pilasters flanking the door are carved in relief with a repetitive vine pattern which has worn away particularly on the right pilaster due to age. These pilasters have a delicate picture frame surround and rest on square bases with chamfered tops. The pilasters flanking the sidelights are flat and unadorned and serve as a background for broader fluted, tapered pilasters which rest on square bases with astragal trim similar to the bases of the corner pilasters. Each vertical fluted section is topped by a drilled shadow hole, and three narrow annulets or square edged astragal moldings project and encircle the pilaster. Above this a flat necking board has a delicate scalloped detail along the top. The capital moldings above the neck consist of a flat enchinus with a delicate dentil band topped by flaring cyma recta molding; the dentil band extends across the door surround above the sidelights and transom, with projecting cyma recta moldings above each pilaster. Centered above the transom is an unusual block resembling a triglyph from a classical Doric frieze which is flanked by larger blocks each with a diamond shape carved in relief and surrounded by shadow holes. The frieze above this is a vernacular interpretation of a classical Doric frieze with alternating triglyphs and metopes. Above the frieze is a narrow molding carved with a scalloped band similar to the neck detail of the fluted pilasters, and a band of small dentils lines the cyma recta molding above. Narrow mutules, similar but smaller to those found in the eaves cornice, with shadow holes serve as brackets for the projecting fascia and cyma recta moldings topping the cornice. A bold scalloped band trims the face of the cornice fascia.
The east side of the main block has features and materials similar to those on the front facade. Two regularly spaced windows similar to those on the front are located on each story. The decorative dentil cornice wraps around the side wall above the second story windows creating a pedimented gable. The gable tympanum is sided with clapboards and has two small, nearly square regularly spaced gable windows each with a delicate picture frame surround. A wooden louvered gable vent is located in the gable peak. The raking cornice in the gable is somewhat simplified in contrast to the horizontal cornice and has a flat frieze pierced by a band of small holes, square mutule blocks, and a flat fascia with a narrow dentil band, all topped by a molded cyma recta.
The west side is nearly identical to the east gable end except that the pedimented gable has one tall window centered in the tympanum.
The rear (north) facade of the main block has features and trim details similar to the front facade. The eastern portion of the rear facade has one twelve-over-eight window with a plain wood surround without picture frame trim centered in the wall on the second story. The western portion of the rear facade lacks the cornice trim and contains a new concrete block wall chimney which is covered from the roof eaves to the foundation by a clapboard-sided box enclosure. A c. 1948 brick chimney rises from the center of the rear roof slope near the eaves of the main block.
Ell: The west side of the ell has double hung one-over-one windows which appear historic with old sill boards and new plain board surrounds. The box cornice at the eaves is topped by a molded trim board which extends from the main block and stops approximately ten feet four inches from the north end of the ell. The box cornice along this end of the ell lacks the molded trim board and is evidence that the north end was a later, but historic addition.
The north gable end of the ell has simple, old corner boards, contains no fenestration and lacks a gable overhang.
The east facade of the ell, on the right, has a top hinged T-111 opening for loading wood into the shed; left of this opening is a narrow, Christian cross, recessed six panel door to the wood shed. A paired two-over-two window with plain board surround is left of the pass door. The remainder of the east facade is fronted by the enclosed porch which has a concrete foundation, new paired combination double hung windows on the north end, and similar paired windows flanking the central entry on the east (front) facade.
Main Block: The cellar reveals the massive 14 by 14 inch sills of the hand hewn post and beam frame. The fieldstone foundation has been insulated and faced with new concrete retaining walls in the cellar. The location of a former chimney base appears evident near the center of the east gable end floor joist system, in which a square area has been patched with board infill. Below this infill brick shards on the cellar floor are additional evidence of the location of a former chimney base that was removed in 1948.
The first story of the main block is divided by a central hall that extends from the main entrance to the rear (north) wall where a door opening leads to the kitchen in the ell. A stairway along the east wall of the central hall ascends to the second floor. Decorative woodwork in a wave and scallop cut out pattern applied along the vertical plane of the stairway carriage, below the railing, appears to be an early 20th century design and suggests that the stairs are a replacement of an earlier stairway. Along the western half of the main block, the dividing wall between two formal parlors has been removed creating one large parlor. Doors at either end of the central hall open to this large room. On the eastern half of the main block a similar pair of doors open into rooms along this side of the house; these rooms appear to have been preserved according to the original floor plan. The front (east) parlor occupies more than half of the east side of the main block; along the left side of the north wall of this room a door leads to a small hall. From this hall one may turn right into a small room now serving as a bathroom, continue north through a door to the kitchen, or turn left through the doorway to the central hall.
Details in the first story rooms include wide board flooring in the central hall, and what appears to be later hardwood flooring in the west parlor. Distinctive Federal style, wide architrave window surrounds and door surrounds trim all the window and door openings on the first story. The west side parlor has two types of chair rail trim which span the wall surface only below the window sills. This large room was originally two rooms, and each room appears to have had its own type of chair rail. The chair-rail detail in the southern half of the room consists of a continuous band of narrow, vertical reeding with a horizontal or astragal bead along the bottom and a beaded ogee molding along the top. The similar chair rail in the northern half of the parlor, does not display a continuous reeded band, but instead has clusters of four vertical reeds which alternate with a flat planed surface. The elaborate chair rail in the eastern parlor indicates that this room was originally the most formal parlor. This rail wraps around the room (not just under the windows) as a continuous band of diagonal reeding with an astragal bead along the bottom, a wide rope molding above the reeding, and a projecting beaded ogee molding along the top.
The second story has a full-length central hall with a small landing at the top of the stairs. A door on the north wall in the hall leads to the ell attic. A door to the right leads to a small bedroom in the northeast corner of the house. A larger bedroom in the southeast corner has doors both connecting to the hall (near the south wall of the house) and to the smaller bedroom to the north. Two bedrooms of similar proportions and location are found in the western half of the upstairs. A small closet is located along the east wall of the bedroom in the northwest corner of the second floor. The windows and doors have a Federal style ogee picture frame surround and beaded jamb. The Christian cross doors are made with beaded boards, and have raised panels on one side, and recessed panels on the other side. A simple board chair rail with a bead along the bottom edge, features a top board which is continuous with the window sills and has an astragal beaded projecting edge. Beaded details also found on the base boards, and as edging on the narrow horizontal molding board (originally used for hanging pictures/ mirrors) which span the wall space between the front (south) wall windows in the two front bedrooms. Wide board flooring is found throughout the second story.
The attic reveals the log rafter roof framing. A ridge pole was not used.
Ell: The ell appears to have been built in two sections. The attic above is unfinished. The earlier c. 1805 south end section of the ell contains the large kitchen and (in the middle of the ell) the walk-in pantry on the west side and a storage room to the east. The wood shed on the north end of the ell appears to have been built later in the century.
A large wood burning enameled cook stove remains as a focal point in the kitchen, centered near the south wall between the two doorways leading to the main block. The kitchen has features typical of early nineteenth century cape architecture in Vermont, such as the exposed corner posts, a low ceiling, and windows with a simple, delicate beaded picture frame surround and beaded sill. Similar window treatment is found in the pantry. New shelving was recently installed in the pantry and the walls have been replaced and insulated to prevent food from freezing during the winter. The unusual, very old door to the kitchen on the east wall of the ell is short by modern standards and measures six feet one inch (h) by three feet one inch (w). The inside face of this door displays six vertical raised panels (grouped three over three), and the exterior of the door is obscured by what appears to be a recently applied flat board.
The woodshed is still used for wood storage. The walls of this utility space are covered with remains of old wood lath and plaster.
2. Early Barn, c. 1850
3. Springhouse, c. 1900
4. One-bay Garage, c. 1940
5. Shed, c. 1930
6. Equipment Shed, c. 1940
The Judge David Hibbard Homestead in Concord, Vermont is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its contribution to the broad patterns of Vermont history. The house was built by Judge David Hibbard whose integrity of character and successful legal career have left their mark on the history of Vermont. Judge Hibbard, his son David, III, and later owners worked the farm as it evolved from an early 19th century home-use operation, to a small diversified farm, and in the last half of the 19th century, to a more specialized dairy farm with the manufacture of cheese and butter. The Judge David Hibbard Homestead also qualifies for statewide significance under National Register Criterion C for being an excellent example of the Federal style of architecture in Vermont embodied by its sophisticated two-story Georgian plan main block with elaborate entrance surround and cornice details adapted from the Doric order of Greek architecture, as well as its well-preserved interior plan and interior Federal style trim details. The house and related structures, set in an intact surrounding landscape comprising 160 acres, retain their workmanship, setting, locations, feeling and association.
The town of Concord is located in the southwestern corner of Essex County. About seven miles east of St. Johnsbury, Concord is bounded on the north by Victory, on the northeast by Lunenburg, on the southeast by the Connecticut River, on the southwest by Waterford, on the northwest by Kirby, and on the east by Lunenburg. The town was chartered by Governor Wentworth on September 15, 1781 to Reuben Jones and sixty-four others.
As with many Vermont towns, particularly those in the northern regions of the state, settlement began in earnest after the Revolutionary War. The more rapid settlement of Concord in relation to most towns in Essex County was probably due to its location along the Connecticut River, which was a major transportation route for early settlers moving to Vermont.
From its earliest days, the town was considered to possess good agricultural land, and its rolling, but stony hills were rich with fertile soil. Fine meadows and soft-water springs mark the lower lands along the Connecticut and Moose Rivers.
One of the first settlers in Concord was Deacon David Hibbard, born in Connecticut in 1755. Deacon Hibbard first moved to Norwich, Vermont and then in 1799 came to Concord with his wife Eunice Talcott, with whom he fathered thirteen children. Hibbard settled on a farm in the southern part of town. With no religious society in Concord during the early years, Hibbard, a Congregationalist, would gather the few inhabitants together to "lead their minds to the throne of grace in prayer"(1) After the Congregationalist Church was organized in Concord, Hibbard became the first deacon of the church in 1807, and the name Deacon Hibbard remained with him for the remainder of his life.
Deacon Hibbard's eldest son David Jr. was born in Coventry, Connecticut. Soon after David, Jr. came with his parents to Concord he acquired "a farm on the heights, built a small cabin or log house, married in 1807 Susannah Streeter of Lisbon, NH."(2) David Jr. set about to make his farm productive enough to support his growing family and then proceeded to study law. A self-taught lawyer, he became "an excellent judge of law", and one of the few lawyers in Essex County during the first half of the 19th century. David, Jr. also became a leading member of the Caledonia County bar, a State's Attorney of Essex County for many years, a town representative to the Vermont Legislature, and a county assistant or "side" judge, after which he acquired the title, Judge Hibbard. "He was known for the use of strong language and was a master of derogatory epithet but he was also a man of unbending integrity and one who despised duplicity and dishonesty".(3)
According to local history, Judge David Hibbard built the large Georgian plan main block of his house around 1814 and attached it to an existing c. 1805 small farmhouse which became the kitchen ell. Most written sources and the architectural features of the main block and ell support these dates although one source says the existing ell is a later c. 1835 addition built to replace the earlier famhouse/ell which was moved across the road.(4) During these early years, local history suggests that Judge Hibbard's law office was located in what is now the ample-sized downstairs bathroom on the east end of the main block.(5) Local historians have also passed along the legend that Judge Hibbard hired an itinerant craftsman, possibly an escaped convict, to help design and to carve the elaborate detailing on both the exterior and interior of his house. Historians say the craftsman stayed two years on the Hibbard property completing his work before he moved on.(6)
When David, Jr. was farming his land during the early decades of the 19th century, agriculturalists in Concord were primarily involved in home-use subsistence farming. By the 1820s farmers in Vermont were beginning to expand to more diversified types of farming to include raising sheep, horses and cattle. Some agricultural products such as hay, oats and potatoes were grown for sale. By 1840, Concord farmers were the most productive in the county, followed by neighboring town, Lunenburg (also on the Connecticut River). At this time, Concord farmers owned 329 horses and mules, and 3,580 sheep, the largest numbers in the county. The farms' production figures of 3,579 bushels of wheat, 13,150 bushels of oats and 1,906 bushels of Indian corn were among the highest in the county. In addition, Concord farmers produced a large amount of hops, and approximately one quarter of all the maple sugar and dairy products in Essex County during the 1840s. At this time Concord had eight sawmills and one oil mill.(7)
David Hibbard, III, the eldest of Judge Hibbard's three children, married Clementine Peabody of Littleton N.H. in 1835. He inherited the family farm and became a farmer and politician like his father.(8) The Early Barn (c. 1850) possibly dates from the years when David, III was farming the property. The one and one-half story gable roof barn remains as a good example of the years during the early to mid-19th century when agriculturalists in Vermont practiced diversified farming and sheltered their few horses, sheep, cows and chickens in one structure.
In the late 1850s the Hibbard family sold the homestead. By 1859 Sprague T. Hale was the owner of the farm and is listed as owner on Beer's Map of that date. In 1860 Hale's farm, with 115 improved acres and 45 unimproved acres was valued at $4,000. Hale was beginning to follow the trend of other Vermont agriculturalists, moving to more specialized areas of farming particularly the manufacture of dairy products. Besides owning a few swine, one horse and thirteen cattle, Hale was beginning to increase his dairy herd. With four milch cows, Hale produced 1,700 pounds of butter that year, among the highest of Concord farmers, and 200 pounds of cheese He also had high yields of Indian corn (50 bushels), oats (200 bushels), and Irish potatoes (250 bushels), as well as successful harvests of wheat, wool, peas, and maple sugar.(9)
It is possible that S. T. Hale may have used the early barn to house his small but growing dairy herd. Occasionally farmers around mid-century modified their early barns for dairying. Usually these gable roof structures had been built with a large central entrance along one eaves side, but in later years were modified with a gable front entry such as is found on the Hibberd barn. It is unknown if the gentle sloping hillside location of the Hibbard barn is the original site; possibly Hale moved it there as was often done in mid-century to accommodate manure basements for growing dairy herds.
By the 1870s Austin and Abigail Robinson obtained a mortgage for the homestead from a local bank and continued to operate the farm.(10) In 1870, the value of the farm had increased to $4,500. $250 had been paid as wages for hired help (an increasingly common practice during the late 19th century) to assist in the growing agricultural operations. Robinson continued to specialize in dairying, owning seven milch cows,and producing significant yields of butter (820 pounds) and cheese (120 pounds). That year Robinson also had successful harvests of orchard products, maple sugar, Indian corn and oats. One of few hops growers in town, Robinson's yield totalling 900 pounds was among the highest.(11)
According to local residents, two additional barns stood on the property. It is very possible that Austin Robinson built one or both of these barns to house his dairy herd. During the late 19th century in Vermont, when specialty dairy farms such as Robinson's manufactured cheese and butter, larger barns were needed and additions were often built onto older barns. It is uncertain where these barns were located as some residents state they were near the existing Early Barn, and others say they were near the existing garage.
By the 1880s Concord was a thriving community with a population of about 1,600 residents and thirteen school districts. The railroad now had a station in Concord village. By 1886 the village boasted two churches, a hotel, stores and shops, mills, two physicians, a lawyer and about fifty dwellings. During this time members of the Hibbard family lived in the village, owned a significant amount of land in town, were merchants and manufacturers of hardware, and owned a sawmill which manufactured lumber and shingles.(12)
During the late 19th century in Vermont, fortunes were made in the lumber industry and the value of lumber was regarded as significant enough to serve as collateral in business transactions, such as the transfer of mortgage deeds. The value of the lumber on the Hibbard Homestead was written into several mortgage deeds with different owners of the property and the Passumpsic Bank during the 1880s. Mortgage Deeds to W. and J. S. Merchant, dated December 10, 1883 and Ellen Gilbert dated January 11, 1886 both make reference to reserving the down lumber for payment of the bank's annual interest. "No wood or timber to be cut and drawn from this farm except what shall be necessary for fence, fire and repairs of the buildings unless the same is applied...for the payment of annual interest"(13)
Between 1901 and 1948 a succession of owners continued to operate the farm. John R. Stuart bought it in 1901, in 1945 John A. and Ethel M. Jones sold it to Nora Stuart.(14) In February, 1949, Herve E., Sr. and Bernadine Cote bought the homestead after a disastrous fire destroyed their property in southern Vermont.
The Cotes were the last to operate the dairy farm. Mr. Cote ceased farming in the 1970s when he changed occupations and went to work for the Vermont Department of Transportation helping with construction of the Interstate (I 91) in the northern part of Vermont.(15)
In 1991 Susan and Matthew Kiley purchased the Hibbard Homestead and have started careful rehabilitation of the historic and architecturally significant house, working to bring the unique property in northern Vermont back to its distinctive Federal style glory.
The Judge Hibbard House has a significant history that spans the years from c. 1814 to the 1940s and provides a good example of Vermont's architectural heritage. From the early years when Judge David Hibbard first built the house, designed the ornamentation, and began his small diversified farm operation, to the decades of the 1860s and 1870s when Sprague T. Hale and Austin Robinson expanded to more specialized dairy farming with the manufacture of butter and cheese, the farm has proven to be significant example of the agricultural trends prevalent in Vermont during the 19th century. During the 20th century, dairy farming continued under a succession of owners until the 1970s. Despite the cessation of agricultural use, the open fields have remained intact. These changes represent the broad patterns of agriculture that have contributed to Vermont's history and make the Hibbard Homestead eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A.
The Judge David Hibbard Homestead qualifies for statewide significance under National Register Criterion C for the distinctive architecture of the house which reflects a unique embodiment of the Vermont Federal style of architecture. The house has remained unusually intact since it was built and continues to retain its distinctive early 19th century character. Rehabilitation to date includes the extra clear radially sawn spruce replacement clapboards, and some replacement trim which was carefully reproduced from documented original details by qualified, local restoration builders.
The exact origin of the exquisite display of carved Federal style ornamentation on the Hibbard house remains a mystery. The high style detailing stands alone in this part of Essex County. Indeed, neighboring St. Johnsbury, an important cultural and economic center in northern Vermont during the nineteenth century due to the success of the Fairbanks' family Scale Works business there, may not possess any buildings with such refined trim details.
The Homestead is also significant under Criterion C for its group of remaining historic buildings and landscape which form a distinct and distinguishable entity. The House, Early Barn and Spring House all dating from c. 1814 to c. 1900 relate to the 19th century agricultural context of the property. The Equipment Shed has associations with farming, as it was probably built to shelter farm equipment, while the Garage and Shed appear to have associations with the mid-20th century history of the property.
The historic landscape retains components of its earlier agricultural heritage and appears much as it did throughout the 19th to mid-20th century. The land has retained its historic setting with 60 acres of open fields surrounding the homestead, and 100 acres remaining as forested woodland. Stone and barbed wire fences separate the fields from the historic buildings. Taken together, the individual components create a relatively intact landscape set within the existing historic buildings of the Judge David Hibbard Homestead.
Beers, F. W. Atlas of Essex County Vermont. F. W. Beers and Co. New York, NY: 1878.
Walling, H. F. Map of Orleans, Lamoille and Essex Counties. Loomis and Way, NY: 1859.
Child, Hamilton. Part First. Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties Vermont 1764 - 1887. The Syracuse Journal Co., Syracuse, NY: 1887.
"The Judge David Hibbard House". Newsletter: Concord Historical Society. Inc. Concord, VT. Vol. 2 No. 1. October, 1979.
Concord, Vermont Land Records. Town Clerk's Office, Concord, VT.
Hemenway, Abby Maria, ed. The Vermont Historical Gazetteer: Vol. 1 Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden and Essex Counties. Burlington, Vermont: 1868.
Walter, Mabel Hall. "The Judge David Hibbard House, Concord, Vermont" Old Time New England Jan. 1934. #3 Vol. 24.
U.S. Government. 1840 Census of Mines, Agriculture, Commerce and Manufacturing, State of Vermont. Microfilm Department. State Library, Montpelier, VT.
U.S. Government. Agricultural Census for 1860. Microfilm Department. State Library, Montpelier, VT.
U.S. Government. Agricultural Census for 1870. Microfilm Department. State Library, Montpelier, VT.
Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey for Concord, Vermont. Forms on file at the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Montpelier, Vermont. 1979.
Jones, Cora. Concord resident. Phone interview. December 9, 1993.
DATE ENTERED: March 31, 1995.
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