Old Stone Row: Painter Hall, Old Chapel, Starr Hall
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While interiors and functions have been altered over time and windows have been updated, Old Stone Row exists as one of purest and most intact examples of the historic Yale campus prototype, importantly retaining its original sense of grouping and setting. As such, it was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and was featured on a US Postal Service postcard stamp in 2000.
Chartered in 1800, Middlebury was founded with the advice of Yale President Timothy Dwight and drew upon Yale as a curricular and physical model for its first century. It rapidly outgrew shared quarters in the 1798 Addison County Grammar School building (razed in 1867) and began planning for a new campus in 1810 on a ridge west of the village. By 1811 it announced plans for what is now known as Old Stone Row, modeled on Yale's Old Brick Row. The latter had been conceived by John Trumbull in 1792 as an alternation of broadside dormitory, gable-front chapel, and broadside dormitory overlooking the New Haven Green. Under Timothy Dwight, Peter Banner extended the row with the gable-front Lyceum and the broadside Berkely Hall (1802-1804). Now demolished with the exception of Connecticut Hall, the Yale Row was a very influential prototype for early nineteenth-century campus construction. Middlebury's version, built of local limestone, faces a picturesque grove descending toward the village. Its first component, Painter Hall (HABS), is the oldest extant collegiate building in Vermont. It was erected as a dormitory organized about three vertical entries. Although it is a conceptual descendant of Yale's Connecticut Hall (itself a reflection of dormitory organization at Oxford and Cambridge), stylistically it is closer to the mill buildings then rising in Middlebury. It was built of donated materials--mostly local limestone, but faced with a first floor of scrap marble, including a fragment of an unused tombstone as a lintel above one cellar window. The second component, Old Chapel (HABS), was built to house the combined academic, administrative, and religious activities of the college. Proposed by Laomi Baldwin of Cambridge, MA as a broadside structure on the model of Bulfinch's University Hall (1814) at Harvard, it was ultimately built by local joiner Asahel Parsons on the model of Peter Banner's gable-front Lyceum (1802-1804) in Yale's Brick Row. The facade of its simple, mill-like mass is embellished with a central entrance tower served by a double flight of steps and crowned with an octagonal Greek Revival cupola. Starr Hall, matching Painter in massing but with shallow entry pavilions topped by steep Victorian cross gables, completed the composition a half century after it was begun.
Home for the College's first century, this iconic symmetrical grouping served as the basis for the formality of the Beaux-Arts expansion of the campus at the beginning of the 20th century.
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