2023 Rockingham Old House Awards announced

The Alexander House in Saxtons River. Photo provided

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – The Rockingham Historic Preservation Commission will host a reception for the town’s 2023 Old House Award winners on Sunday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m., at the Rockingham Meeting House, 11 Meeting House Road, Rockingham Village. The public is invited to congratulate the winners and celebrate historic preservation efforts underway throughout the town.

“Restored between 1906 and 1907, the meeting house is the birthplace of historic preservation in Rockingham, setting the pace for our region,” said John Leppman, commission chair. “It is big and bright, and a great place for the community to applaud historic preservation.”

Awards made annually by the commission are designed to recognize property owners in the town of Rockingham who maintain and restore their historic homes and commercial and industrial buildings. Eligible properties are older homes and businesses that have received exterior restoration and conservation by their owners, typically in the past five years. Brass plaques are awarded to the winners, who are encouraged to proudly post them on their entrances to call out their efforts to keep Rockingham historic.

This year’s winners are: Susan Saunders, Saxtons River Inn. Symbolized by a dramatic five-story corner tower, the village’s turn-of the-century hotel dominates its commercial core. Replacing an early 19th century predecessor that was demolished to clear the site, the hotel was constructed in 1903 for the Saxtons River Hotel Co. William H. Dean Sr., a local builder, participated in the project. The building has been only slightly altered from its original appearance, and recently restored.

Wilbur Hall Vermont Academy. Photo provided

William Purdy, 29 School Street, Bellows Falls. A Greek Revival brick house built circa 1835 for Asa Wentworth, a prominent figure in the community serving as vice president of Bellows Falls Savings Institution. He also held interest in the flatboat company that transported merchandise up the river from southern New England to the upper valley of the Connecticut River.

Vermont Academy, Wilbur Hall, constructed in 1892 as the Academy’s first library. This small, asymmetrical, one-story stone building is an excellent example of the Craftsman style with Richardsonian influences. Architect William P. Wentworth of Boston, Mass., designed the building. Wilbur Hall is located on the north side of the Long Walk across from Jones Hall.

Ronald Tompkins, 12 Main Street, Saxtons River, the most fully developed expression of architectural style in Saxtons River village, taking the form of Italianate Revival capped by a symbolic belvedere. Constructed in 1867-68 for John Alexander, the house virtually retains its original appearance. The surrounding grounds are landscaped with mature coniferous and deciduous trees, some of which were planted at the time of the house’s completion.

The Old House Award program is made possible in part through the generosity of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service. For more information about the event or the Old House Awards, contact clg@rockbf.org.

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