Starksboro Village Meeting House

 

Starksboro Village Meeting House
Starksboro, Vermont
Founded 1840


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History of the Meeting House

The Starksboro Village Meeting House is located in the heart of Starksboro Village on the west side of Vermont Route 116.  It stands as an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style with pointed arched windows and pinnacled cresting atop the belfry.  It's interior is well preserved with most of the original furnishings including, grained woodwork, and a large kerosene lamp chandelier.

The Starksboro Village Meeting House Society was deeded land in the center of Starksboro Village on May 8, 1838.  Construction was started sometime between March 6th and when the deed was received and completed in 1840 at a total, cost of $2400.  The Meeting House was built as a union church for three denominations and a large meeting room for the Town of Starksboro in the basement, reached through doors on the north side.  The Meeting House is an excellent example of a co-operative building effort by several congregations and the town, which was common in Vermont in the first half of the 19th century.

It was built during the town's peak period of growth and is the most architecturally distinguished building in the village.  During the 1830s, the need to build a union church became clear. The town's population had been increasing, and in 1840 would reach 1263. Starksboro Village was also developing as a milling center with a forge, fulling mill, saw mill, two trip hammer shops, a tavern, store, and a number of houses.

The Society was a union of three of the five religious denominations in the town.  The Methodist Episcopal Congregation used the Meeting House one half of the time.  The Free Will Baptists and a group called the Christian Church each used the Meeting House one quarter of the time.  Although the Society of Friends had built a meeting house in the northern part of Starksboro in 1812 (which was moved to Charlotte in 1858 to become the Church of Our Lady of Mt Carmel) and one in South Starksboro in 1826, these three congregations did not have permanent churches and instead met in the homes of their members.

Also, at the annual Starksboro town meeting held March 6, 1838, the voters voted to "raise a tax of four hundred dollars for the purpose of furnishing a town room in the basement story of a meeting-house contemplated to be built in the village in said Town of Starksboro".  Up until that time, town meetings were generally held in the village schoolhouse. On April 4, 1839, the first town meeting was held in the new town room.

In 1868, the Free Will Baptists built their own church, a large two story Greek Revival style building across the street.

The Christian Church eventually lost its membership.

This left the Methodist Episcopals as the sole occupants of the sanctuary.

In 1909, the Town of Starksboro appointed a committee to look into buying the Meeting House as more space was needed for town and community affairs. The next year the Town decided to appropriate $4000 to buy a lot and build a new Town Hall.

In 1919 the Methodist Episcopals voted to join in federation with the Baptists and form a united church. They started to meet in the larger Baptist Church, leaving the Meeting House empty.

Efforts to revitalize the Meeting House started in 1957 and much needed maintenance and restoration work was begun.

Since that time it has been used for occasional services and for other community activities.

Today the Meeting House continues to serve the community and remains as the most architecturally distinguished building in this small village.

This history page is based in part on the application by the Meeting House for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  The full application can be seen here.


Village of Starksboro, Vermont Streetscape

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