Background:

Federal-Style “Thomas Dorwin House” (c. 1812) Offered For $199,000 (Hinesburg, VT)

The owner of this house told me that this house was “a preservationist’s dream,” and it’s easy to see why.  Located in a quaint town nestled between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, and just a half hour from the super-hip city of Burlington, this Federal style colonial includes some truly impressive original features.  Touted as “one of the best preserved examples of high-style Federal architecture in Vermont,” the house seems to fit that bill.  Considering the number of original features that survive, it is all the more remarkable that this house’s recently celebrated its 200th birthday.  And the current listing price?  Just $199,000!

I usually describe the outside first, but the interior of this house has some impressive early features.  The house retains many original details that are rarely found so intact — including elements such as the plaster walls, cast-in-place heavy plaster moldings, a fantastic decorative ellipse on the entire ceiling of the main entrance, and more.  The house’s windows, many of which are also original (with hand-blown glass), represent many eras of changing technology — including 12/12, 6/6, and some 2/2.  All of the doors are also apparently original, most being a shallow 6-panel design with beautiful wood-graining.

The house is very spacious at 3,048 square feet — including 5 bedrooms — yet the owner points out that it’s “also comfortable and intimate.”   There are 9-foot ceilings throughout, and the Georgian floor plan allows for a flowing and dynamic circular movement through the first floor.  The kitchen has a large pantry with double doors and deep shelving.  There are also several built-in bookcases and shelves around the fireplaces on the first floor, and several closets (always nice in a historic house) on the second floor.  Of the 5 Rumford fireplaces, two of the surrounds are polished gray stone, three are carved wood, with hearths of brick, polished stones, or marble.  (See the detail of one of the carved wood surrounds at left.)

Outside, the house consists of a stately brick, 5-bay facade, with a typically grand Federal main entryway — including marble steps that lead to a remarkable 4’ wide wood-grained door capped with a leaded fanlight window.  The property’s 4.28 acres also include a chicken coop, a historic post and beam horse barn, and a dairy barn dating to 1946 that is in need of extensive renovation or demolition.  The land around the house has been farmed for over 200 years, and is gently rolling.  There is lovely fertile soil in the western barnyard that would be excellent for gardening or grazing, and it slopes down to a small section of the Lewis Creek watershed.  Most of this can be seen in the aerial image of the property below:

The History:  (photo below circa 1840)

The history of the house is well-documented, with many ties to regional history.  All seven owners of the now 200-year old Thomas Dorwin house (currently known as the “Pearce house”) have demonstrated “a deep love and respect for the artistry and spirit of [the] place.”  The house was built by the Thomas Dorwin family who came to Hinesburg from Lanesboro, MA in 1785. Thomas had three sons: Thomas Milton, Canfield and Lyman. Captain Thomas M. Dorwin led his company in the war of 1812 at Oswego, New York.  His two brothers were esteemed residents of Hinesburg, and Lyman twice represented the town in the legislature. (You can find his initials carved into the plaster of an unfinished room upstairs — see pic at right). Canfield’s daughter Caroline married Charles Weed, and lived in the house and ran the farm until her death in 1920. The Estey family, who had been caring for both the farm and Caroline in her later years, then bought the house and farm, furniture, cows and all, and farmed there until 1948. Since then there have been four other owners, the last of which was Gwendolen E. Pearce, who moved there in 1969, ran a small farm, raised three daughters, and lived there until her death in September 2008.  Below is a picture  of the house from the Estey era, circa 1930.

As for the “neighborhood,” there are farm fields, residences and an equestrian center to the south, and to the west is conserved land that extends into woods, a gorgeous Adirondack view, and magical sunsets (below, see a picture of the Adirodacks from an upstairs window of the Thomas Dorwin House).  Lewis Creek Road is a stone’s throw to the south, a rare tree-canopied dirt road that connects to many others. Here you will find conserved land and endless trails in the woods that are fantastic for hiking in summer, and skiing in the winter. Within a 2- mile radius are two organic vegetable, meat and berry farms, one with a year-round CSA, and both are a lovely bike ride or walk on a summer day.  

The Town of Hinesburg is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year (the Dorwin house has obviously seen much of that history!), and the town center is only minutes away, with many dining options and amenities. Both the elementary and high schools are reportedly excellent. Burlington, a gem on sparkling Lake Champlain, is just 30 minutes away, I-89 is 20 minutes, Montreal is 2 hours. Lake Champlain beaches, boat access, and ferry to New York are only 20 minutes away, and also within a short distance are Camel’s Hump hiking trails, Bed and Breakfasts, several ski areas, the Shelburne Museum and Shelburne Farms.

Below:  a picture of the stairway from the upper landing.

As far as I’m concerned, I think this is a rare find in an incredible location, but it will require an extensive and patient restoration. According to the owner, it is possible to move in, but some structural work is required on the back wall and foundation, and obviously considerable cosmetic work is needed, as well as replacement and/or repair of mechanical systems.  But as the current owner says, “Such richness, skill, fine craftsmanship, good energy and hard labor are embodied in this building, that becoming its new steward will be hugely rewarding and well worth the effort.”

Pic below:  The “double parlor”:

There are several more cool pictures below.

If you wish to do more research on this property, the address is 2678 Silver Street, Hinesburg, Vermont.  The asking price is $199,000.  Inquiries should be directed to Michele Lewis of Lang McLaughry Spera Real Estate in South Burlington.  She can be contacted at michele.lewis@lmsre.com or through her website at www.Vermont-YourHome.com.

Below: An imprint of a small child’s hand left years ago after the kid got into some paint! . . .

Below: Large Federal-style ceiling ornamentation in stairway…

Below: Another view of the double parlor…

Below:  Antique latch on the door to the kitchen…

Below:  A room the owner referred to as the Prayer Room…

Below:  The Old & the New — A Historic floor vent in front of a fireplace…

Below: Built-in bookcase in Dining Room…

Below:  Deep-set door between kitchen and dining room…

Below: Original fanlight above the front door, from the inside…

Below:  Another aerial view showing the terrain around the old farm…

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28 Comments so far »

  1. by Amy, on 05.16.12 @ 10:32 AM

     

    Hi, Could you private message me? I have some questions! Thank you.

  2. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 05.16.12 @ 12:07 PM

     

    Hi Amy,
    RE: the Dorwin House:
    I am the current owner of the house and know it well. My agent can also answer your questions, but if you would like to chat,Id be more than happy to talk restoration with you!

    Best,
    Catherine

  3. by Amy, on 05.16.12 @ 2:02 PM

     

    Hi Catherine-

    I would love to get a few details about the restoration needed. My email is ferrellae@gmail.com if you have a chance to get in touch!

    Thank you,

    Amy

  4. by Lisa, on 05.26.12 @ 4:31 PM

     

    What an amazing house! Is that original wall paper in the dining room? I love it – it looks hand blocked.

  5. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 05.30.12 @ 9:59 PM

     

    Glad you like the house! The wallpaper is not original, but was put up in the 80s..sorry! I don’t even think it’s hand blocked, although it is a nice design, and it’s difficult to find good designs these days.The legend was always that the wallpaper in the double parlor was gold leaf, and it was sold off the walls. Just a bit of mythology I grew up with…

  6. by Kristin, on 07.08.12 @ 11:26 AM

     

    I have many happy memories from childhood visits here to see Catherine’s family. This was such a magical place to explore, and definitely instilled a love of old homes in me.
    Thanks for the link, Catherine!
    –K

  7. by Peter Gulick, on 08.14.12 @ 9:18 AM

     

    Hi, What a wonderful house in a beautiful setting. We are renovation contractors that specialize in 17,18 and 19th century houses and barns. I would love to work on this house because it doesn’t seemed to be have been setback by the 50’s and 60’s updates. Always more rewarding to preserve than to replace. So many of our projects we bring a house back to a time period after it was altered. Of course welding modern amenties in historic buildings is a design challange and one that we relish.
    Thanks, Peter Gulick

  8. by Abby, on 10.09.12 @ 4:58 PM

     

    I wonder what the structural repairs would cost….

  9. by tig welder, on 11.01.12 @ 6:15 AM

     

    I’m really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems? A handful of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any solutions to help fix this problem?

  10. by Fred, on 11.11.12 @ 11:58 AM

     

    Is this house still for sale. Listing was removed in the last few days.

  11. by Michael@HHB, on 11.12.12 @ 7:51 PM

     

    Hey Fred,

    It may have been removed or sold. Unfortunately, I’m not able to keep up with all of these great listings! If anyone reading this knows anything about the listing, I’d love to know!

    Michael @ HHB

  12. by caroline, on 11.15.12 @ 2:50 PM

     

    This message is for catherine seidenberg. i’m hoping that you still visit this site. i have requested information from the realtor and am waiting on some pictures as we speak. i’d like to know the status of the post and beam barn and why the site says it has no full bathrooms. any history on the house and property to include pictures and the problem with the foundation and back wall. thanks so much for your time.

  13. by caroline, on 11.16.12 @ 1:25 PM

     

    catherine, if you still check this blog can you email me back please? i have questions

  14. by Catherine Goldsmith, on 01.10.13 @ 11:47 AM

     

    I just saw this house (belongs to a friend) recently. It is a beautiful, very special house that will make a fabulous family home. BIG rooms upstairs and down, quite different from many antique houses. As far as I know, it is still for sale and is SO worth the work and love that will be required. Hinesburg, VT is a really great town; the property is just down the street from a network of trails on public land.

  15. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 01.12.13 @ 11:09 AM

     

    Hi everyone,

    Sorry to have not checked this site more often! Our house was unlisted for a couple of days, but is indeed listed again. The price has been reduced to 250,000.

    Caroline, sorry I missed your postings! I’d love to answer any questions you have, and Abby also, about structural costs. We have a conditions assessment that outlines all the repairs and their costs. The post and beam barn is in fair shape, needs a little roof and sill work. The house definitely has a full bath: please let me know exactly where this information is missing from! woops. And the bulk of what I know about the history is included in this blog text: let me know if there are specifics you are curious about and I can try to dig them up.

    my email is catspearce@gmail.com, feel free to contact me.

    Thanks!
    Catherine

  16. by steve Heim, on 01.21.13 @ 1:24 PM

     

    This specimen federal evokes my restorative ambitions! A stately brick farm house with 9ft ceilings is something to be coveted in VT. Wonderful. That said, unfortunately, like so many important historic homes, this one sits ten feet from a busy road.

  17. by village interiors clemmons nc, on 01.30.13 @ 10:02 PM

     

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  18. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 02.07.13 @ 10:51 PM

     

    Hi!
    just a comment about the busy road: yes, it is busy, but the traffic is primarily commuter traffic. It’s busy in the morning, and again at night. The rest of the time it is pretty normal/quiet. The environment in the back of the house is bucolic, and land-trusted property, so the house and landscaping could easily be re-oriented to the back, that is, the West, to the views of the Adirondacks and the sunsets.

    Another thing to consider is to have an office, or small business that actually benefits from the traffic: a small garden/farm/ nursery, etc.

  19. by Catherine Goldsmith, on 03.04.13 @ 3:15 PM

     

    I live on VT Route 116, right in Hinesburg Village. There are many times of day that no cars will be coming from either direction. The traffic on Silver Street (which feeds into 116) really is very narrowly focused on rush hours.

    This house will make a lovely, spacious family home. I wish the timing was right for my family but we have taken on a different preservation project!

  20. by The roof gardens galveston, on 04.17.13 @ 1:34 AM

     

    Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a high-risk determination outstanding post! .

  21. by Maria Proctor, on 10.01.13 @ 9:47 PM

     

    Hello Catherine,
    My husband and I have tried reaching the agent Michelle Lewis since this past Saturday. We are very interested in the property. We left messages on two different phone numbers. If you have any additional contact information that would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  22. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 10.02.13 @ 8:57 AM

     

    Hello Maria,

    I’m very sorry that my agent has been unreachable..I have just called her to see what is going on. I am more than happy to help answer any questions you have in the meantime! I have a copy of the conditions assessment that I can forward to you if you would like. My phone is (518) 963-8591, cell (802) 598-0603, and I can be reliably reached at my email address.

    thanks!

    Catherine

  23. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 10.02.13 @ 9:43 AM

     

    Hi Maria,

    Apparently my realtor hasn’t been getting your messages at all. Here’s her info, just in case there is some problem with the information:

    Michele Lewis
    Lang McLaughry Real Estate
    802.846.7831 direct
    802-343-5353 cell

    michele.lewis@lmsre.com

    Let me know if you need more help!

    Thanks
    Catherine

  24. by Maria Proctor, on 10.02.13 @ 8:36 PM

     

    Thank you so much, Catherine. We will try her again this week and hopefully set something up with her to look at it. And we will follow up with you as well.
    Thank you again,
    Maria Proctor

  25. by Maria Proctor, on 10.02.13 @ 9:00 PM

     

    P.S. Please do forward us the assessment to bibiproctor@gmail.com as we would find that very helpful.
    Best-

  26. by Jessica Crosby, on 12.06.13 @ 2:01 PM

     

    We have also tried to make contact to view the house to no avail. We were sent the description of work needed but when we followed up to see the property we did not receive a response, this was several months ago. I just e-mailed your realtor again hoping to set something up.

    Thank you!

  27. by Catherine Seidenberg, on 12.08.13 @ 12:31 AM

     

    To Jessica,

    sorry you haven’t been able to reach my realtor, she may not be getting your messages? I have mentioned that you are trying to get in touch with her. Have you tried calling and leaving a message on her phone? Here is all her current contact information:

    Michele Lewis
    Lang McLaughry Real Estate
    802.846.7831 direct
    802-343-5353 cell
    michele.lewis@lmsre.com

    She also mentioned to make sure you spell her name with one L and not 2, when you email her, otherwise she may not receive it.

    Thanks, and let me know if I can be of any more help!

    Catherine

  28. by Eliot Lothrop, on 01.14.14 @ 2:12 PM

     

    Hi Catherine, I can’t believe no one has scarfed this place up yet. As the writer of the conditions assessment and estimator of the repairs, I can truly tell everyone that this is a one of a kind specimen. It is impossible to find such an unaltered and amazingly constructed house in chittenden county. Don’t let the foundation issues scare you away. If I can be of any help answering questions, feel free to email or call me (802) 598-9344

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