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Rupert Village Historic District

Rupert Town, Bennington County, VT

The Town of Rupert [†], Bennington County, Vermont was chartered in 1761 and granted to sixty-eight settlers by the colonial governor of New Hampshire. Measuring six square miles, the town's geography features a mix of mountains and fertile river valleys with four main watercourses, the Mettowee and Indian Rivers, Mill Brook, and White Creek, flowing through the valleys. The town is bordered to the west by New York State, to the south by the Town of Sandgate, to the east by the Town of Dorset, and to the north by the Town of Pawlet, all in Vermont. The Village of Rupert, sometimes historically referred to as Rupert Street, is located on the western end of the town in a fertile valley created by the joining of Indian River and Mill Brook.

The Rupert Village Historic District encompasses the Village of Rupert in the Town of Rupert, Bennington County, Vermont. Nestled in a valley between Mill Brook and Indian River and circumscribed by mountains, the village contains a collection of residential, agricultural, and ecclesiastical buildings representative of architectural styles prominent from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. Examples of the Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, High Victorian Gothic, and Craftsman style are visible in Rupert Village. Wood frame buildings predominate the village and residences are largely vernacular examples of the aforementioned architectural styles, though some have been updated with late nineteenth century features such as ornate porches, dormers, and bay windows. Two distinct residential building forms predominate: the Georgian plan and front-gabled or side-gabled main blocks with significant ells. The consistency of these forms give the village a high degree of visual cohesion. Additionally, the village, once a major agricultural setting, retains buildings and landscapes reflective of that heritage. Hayfields surround the village, and a significant number of homes feature barns and other agricultural outbuildings on their rear elevations. The village also contains a former rail depot and a few resources that reflect the history of railroad transportation and its impact on the village.

The Rupert Village Historic District encompasses the entirety of the historic village which developed around the junction of present-day Vermont Route 153 and West Pawlet Road. The historic district occupies a half mile stretch of road from the railbed of the former Rutland and Washington Railroad Company to a pair of properties at 304, 309 Rupert Mountain Road that are just east of Youlin Road. In total thirty-six properties containing ninety-eight resources are present within the district. Seventy-four of these resources contribute to the significance of the Rupert Village Historic District with most of the remaining twenty-three resources are non-contributing due to age and alterations. Overall the district retains integrity of location, setting, feeling, association, materials, design, and workmanship.

The village is an excellent example of a small agrarian village and features important sites and buildings related to the early development of the town such as the Rupert Street Cemetery and the Congregational Church of Rupert, two of the oldest features in the village. The village also features a large collection of two-story side gabled vernacular residences that utilize a Georgian plan. Most of these residences date to the early years of Rupert's founding and are substantially intact. Where changes have occurred, they typically take the form of late nineteenth century additions such as porches and bay windows, alterations that reflect the growing prosperity of Rupert brought by the railroad. The railroad itself played a crucial role in developing the community, shifting the center of commerce and making viable more intensive agricultural activities such as cheesemaking and milk bottling.

The village embodies the distinctive characteristics of a rural Vermont village and reads clearly as a small farming community. The Rupert Village Historic District contains approximately forty properties with a mix of residential buildings along with their associated domestic outbuildings, ecclesiastic properties, the village cemetery, agricultural buildings, and fields. Many of these buildings are vernacular examples of high style architecture however the village possesses several examples of high style architecture, most notably the Rupert Methodist Church. The village has also largely maintained visual cohesion over the last century with limited intrusions outside the period of significance. The original massing of buildings is universally apparent in the historic district and original materials are still largely used with alterations most often manifested through the addition or subtraction of porches and changes to secondary elevations.

The Period of Significance for the Rupert Village Historic District stretches from circa 1786 till 1966. This period of significance encompasses the village's development starting with the construction of the Congregational Church of Rupert circa 1786, the oldest extant building in the village and ending with the construction of the Reverend Duke King monument in front of the Congregational Church of Rupert. During this period of significance, most of Rupert's buildings were erected and the village experienced relative prosperity derived from its rail connections and fertile soil. While farming continued in Rupert after 1966 the village did not experience any substantial physical growth in the late twentieth century. Additionally, rail services contracted slowly during the twentieth century. Passenger service to Rupert ended in 1934 and by 1980 freight service had also ceased. Additionally, during the late twentieth century changes in agriculture led to increased centralization in dairy farming and the end of the small family farms which had characterized Rupert in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Adapted from: Matthew Shoen/Research Intern, Preservation Trust of Vermont, nomination document, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., accessed March, 2022.

Street Names
Main Street • Pawlet Road West • Route 153 • Youlin Road