Listed on the local, state, and national registers of historic buildings, 76 Main Street is described as a “fantastically ornate example of Italianate residential architecture…which epitomizes the eclectic architecture of Vergennes’ wealthy businessmen who saw their houses as monuments to their social and economic importance.” One will also find French Second Empire influences evidenced by the cupola, slate mansard roof, and bull’s eye window dormers. The third floor ballroom leads to the cupola, which offers a panoramic view of the beautiful Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks. The dominant features of the main façade are the projecting bay windows on three sides.
The house was constructed between 1869-1871 by Herrick Stevens, who acquired his fortune in the Chicago hotel trade. His hotels, “patronized by the best class of travelers,” included Abraham Lincoln among its regular guests. In 1855, Stevens married Electa Willard, a Vermont woman, who was “thought to be the model of 19th Century womanhood.” They never severed their Vermont ties and returned permanently to Vergennes in the 1860s. Yankee-minded relatives described Stevens’ Vermont house as “Stevens’ Folly” because he spared no expense to have it his way. Rather than using Vermont marble or slate, he insisted on Italian marble and Georgian sandstone walkways. He employed plaster workers from France, commissioned craftsmen to make cabinets, giltwork, and the black walnut archways and woodwork throughout the house.
The most endearing interior features are the many arched doorways and windows that flood the house with light, and the friendly nooks created by the windowed bays. One should pause to appreciate the little details throughout the house.
Our first Vermont snowfall 23 November 2011
The North side of The Lady. Not seen in years - 22 November 2011