Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District

Brattleboro Town, Windham County, VT

Home | Whats New | Site Index | Contact | Search

The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡] Photo: L. Papazian, 2008. [‡]


The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is a compact group of residential buildings in an urban setting that were constructed between 1840 and 1915 located along Canal Street, Horton Place, and Homestead Place in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District includes in total 29 buildings. Of these, 21 primary and 4 accessory buildings retain integrity of location, design, setting, workmanship, feeling, association and materials, and are contributing to the district. In addition, three modern garages and one modern shed are non-contributing. The architectural character of the Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is dominated by the Queen Anne style as applied to both large single family homes and to small apartment buildings. The northeast boundary of the district abuts the Canal Street School, entered in the National Register of Historic Places on August 19, 1977, and the adjacent Canal Street-Clark Street Neighborhood to the north, entered in the National Register on July 7, 1993. Nearby, a short two blocks down Birge Street to the southwest, is the former Estey Organ Factory complex (listed in the National Register on April 17, 1980, and amended with a Boundary Increase listed on January 9, 2007). A steep wooded bank creates a natural boundary to the district on the east while outside the district across Canal Street modern commercial development dominates the streetscape.

Most of the residential structures in the Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District are either originally multi-unit or were converted from single family to multi-unit in the period from 1895 to 1915 and represent substantial urban infill of earlier village areas to address increased housing needs in the urban core. The majority of buildings were built new in a restrained Queen Anne style. Though there are some earlier houses along Canal Street, many of these were updated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the addition of Victorian porches or even relocated to side streets to make way for larger new buildings on Canal Street. The earlier buildings, including 192 Canal Street, 198 Canal Street, 202 Canal Street, and 208 Canal Street are of the vernacular Greek Revival and Gothic Revival styles or very simple such as 30 Horton Place and 31 Horton Place, which were relocated during the period of significance. A notable stylistic exception in this neighborhood is the simply early Italianate home of Jacob Estey (162 Canal Street). His large property pre-dated many of the district buildings and was subdivided after his death. Most of the buildings of the Victorian era are two and three stories often with two or three story porches. This is a dense small neighborhood that is bordered by Canal Street on the west and a steep hill on the east that sweeps around the cluster of houses in an arc that creates a natural border. It was fully developed with its present density along the two side streets — Homestead Place and Horton Place by 1915. Only one building has been demolished since 1919. The architectural and historic character of most of the buildings is well preserved and the district remains a visually cohesive neighborhood.

The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is within easy walking distance of the downtown section of Brattleboro's Main Street. Canal Street, which is an extension of Main Street and roughly follows the east bank of the Whetstone Brook, leads up a hill to the south and continues past the older residential neighborhood of Clark Street-Canal Street Historic District and the Elm Street bridge across the Whetstone to the beginning of the Homestead-Horton district. Between Main Street and the district Canal Street is a mix of single and multi-family residential with scattered small commercial uses. The district itself on the east side of Canal is entirely residential with only one mixed use property while the opposite side of Canal is almost entirely commercial with a small residential enclave behind it. At the southern end of the district, Washington Street leads up a steep hill to the east to more residential neighborhoods while on the west Birge Street leads to the Estey Organ Factory Complex and Estey-related residential neighborhoods to the west. Further south from the district, Canal becomes more commercial and institutional with the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital dominating the west side.

The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District and other nearby residential neighborhoods on the eastern and southern side of Brattleboro are filled primarily with modest homes and multi-family units on relatively small lots. The hills that rise on the north and west of the downtown, by contrast, have neighborhoods of larger homes and fancier multi-unit buildings on larger lots. The district has always been a working neighborhood and is in close proximity not only to the Estey Organ Factory where many of its residents worked but also to the industrial areas of Flat and Frost Streets across the Elm Street bridge just to the north. Here other industries such as carriage and light manufacturing; lumber mills, machine shops, and wholesale grocers were located throughout the latter half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. If residents walked instead to the bottom of Canal Street where it meets Main Street at the falls of the Whetstone they would have found another 19th century industrial cluster with the railroad, a paper mill, gas works, and other businesses. Despite a lot of change along Canal Street brought about by the automobile and other late 20th century forces, the district has remained a very, intact residential neighborhood aided by current zoning and also possibly because it is physically protected by a hill on the east.


The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is a cohesive, well-preserved example of a residential district that developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide housing to the burgeoning workforce in Brattleboro. During the era of heightened industrial activity from the 1870s to the mid-20th century the growth of neighborhoods like this one transformed the town from a village to an urban center. The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is locally significant in the, area of community development by conveying how working neighborhoods evolved to handle the housing pressures that were typical in Vermont's c.1900 regional industrial centers. It is significant as well for its close association with an important local and international industry and its founder, Jacob Estey. The early, mid-19th century development of this neighborhood was due in large part to both Jacob Estey and the Estey Organ Company. Estey made his home here in the district when he was starting the organ business that would become so important to Brattleboro and Vermont and remained here throughout his life and the enormous growth of the industry. He was employer to many in the neighborhood as well as real estate developer, banker, and landlord. After his death in 1890, the final transformation of the neighborhood occurred through the subdivision of his estate and one other on which were laid out the two side streets, Homestead and Horton Places. This infill development allowed the housing capacity of the district to quadruple through new construction to meet the demands of the organ factories and other growing Brattleboro businesses. The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is particularly characterized by the many large single and multi-family houses and apartment buildings built here in the Queen Anne style between 1895 and 1915. The district is architecturally locally significant as an intact collection of Queen Anne style workforce rental housing and a few higher style single family homes that blended well with the earlier houses that were literally moved aside for them. The buildings within the boundaries of the district remain remarkably intact and continue to clearly reflect their original character despite the passing of over 100 years since many of the structures were built.

The small, compact neighborhood nestled between Canal Street and the foot of a sweeping hill developed as a place where people of widely varying means could live comfortably together and walk to or take the 1895 trolley to work. The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District, in close proximity to the Estey Organ factory on nearby Birge Street, housed many of its employees and leaders during several decades including the founder Jacob Estey. The Jacob Estey homestead (162 Canal Street) is well preserved and is locally significant for its association with a man who had such a profound impact on Brattleboro and Vermont. Unlike showier, more affluent neighborhoods that developed in the 19th century on the other side of town, this one has always been primarily a working class neighborhood. Many of the houses from the earlier small cottages to the large three story apartment houses to the few larger single family homes are conservative — even vernacular — examples of styles ranging from Greek and Gothic Revival to Italianate, Queen Anne, Shingle, and Colonial Revival. It is primarily the massing and form of the predominantly Queen Anne and Greek Revival examples that convey their history. The actual details are simple and include the use of entablature, plain friezes, pilasters, molded cornices and returns, flush board siding with Italianate windows and doors, and shallow pointed arches in the earlier buildings. The later buildings made use of cross gables and pavilions, angle-sided bay windows, basic scroll-sawn brackets, valences and pendants, glazed and paneled doors, molded surrounds and cornices with returns. The types of millwork used throughout the district on houses of all periods can also be found sprinkled throughout Brattleboro and was probably locally readily available.

The 1852-4 Jacob Estey house (162 Canal Street) is the only example of Italianate style elements in the district and in this case they were combined somewhat cosmetically with the more common Greek Revival style of form and massing. However, there were other examples of the more full blown early Italianate style built in the 1850s in Brattleboro, such as the elaborate 1853 house designed by Richard Upjohn for John Stoddard (later occupied by Julius Estey), the 1855 Town Hall on Main Street, and the 1856 house built by Charles Royall Tyler. All of these examples have been demolished. While the Italianate, Second Empire, and High Victorian Gothic styles were quite popular in Brattleboro in the 1870s and 1880s, the district had no new construction in this period and so no examples of those styles.

The few higher style houses built later in the Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District's second wave of construction from 1895-1915 include Andrew Horton's 1895 apartment house (182 Canal Street) and his own 1896 residence (176 Canal Street) which were more elaborate versions of the Queen Anne style. Another higher style example was the 1906 Shingle style/Colonial Revival style house (170 Canal Street) with its matching carriage barn built by A.W. Rockwell. The 1892 construction of the high style Classical Revival style Canal Street School[1] at the edge of the district may have had some influence on district architecture. The school's attributed architect, Robert Gordon Hardie, Jr. the son of an Estey Organ employee, lived on the west side of Canal Street across from the district in an eclectic and unusual, almost Arts and Crafts style house of his own design (still extant at 191 Canal Street). Another possible inspiration for the Rockwell house was the Arthur Wyatt House,[2] a more full blown example of the Shingle style on Putney Road built in 1893-4 and designed by architect Francis Crosby.

The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District's second period of construction saw the development of the multi-family residence. Beginning in 1895, the multi-unit residences constructed were designed like large single family homes that were slightly altered to accommodate two families. The Queen Anne style with complex footprints and multiple facade and gables was well suited to this form. The examples include 21 and 27 Horton Place and 146, 176 and 182 Canal Street. These blended well with the earlier, smaller 19th century dwellings of the first period. However, there was an evolution of the multi-unit form. Several examples built later between 1905 and 1915 were actually two and three story apartment houses and were not based on the single family model. In 1896, William Stuart built the High Victorian Gothic style three story frame seven-unit building now called the "Victoria Apartments" nearby at the foot of Canal Street. This was likely the earliest building built specifically as a multi-unit residence in Brattleboro and is listed in the National Register as part of the Canal Street-Clark Street Neighborhood Historic District. The modest two- and three-story apartment houses in this district were clearly influenced by the Victoria Apartment model and remained small in scale to fit in with the surrounding residential neighborhood of earlier houses. The district examples of small apartment houses include 188 Canal Street, 12 and 16 Horton Place, and 19, 20 and 22 Homestead Place.

From its early beginnings in the mid-19th century through the subdivisions and creation of new streets in the early 20th century, this neighborhood has been closely associated with the Estey Organ Company, which by 1900 had become the largest organ factory in the world and ranked among the largest industries in Vermont. The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District's smaller Greek Revival and Gothic style homes of the 1840s and 1850s housed many Estey employees and key players including not only Jacob Estey but his son-in-law and partner, Levi Fuller.

As the workforce in Brattleboro grew, so did the housing pressure on the 19th century residences in this neighborhood which census data and directories show increasingly housed boarders and multiple families. The population of Brattleboro had gone from about 3800 in 1850 to nearly 7000 in 1890. More dramatically, the Estey organ workforce had gone from about 8 in 1853 to nearly 700 at its peak around 1900. The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District's growth and increased density coincided with Estey Organ Company's success and expansion but did not fully urbanize while Jacob Estey still made his home there. Estey died in 1890 and by the turn of the 20th century, the subdivision of his and one other large estate resulted in the construction of many more multi-family dwellings and small apartment buildings. The 1895 trolley line installed along Canal Street increased the mobility both of Estey employees and the people who lived near the route. Census and directory data show increasingly varied occupations and places of employment for neighborhood residents from that time on.

Brattleboro has never been a one-industry town in the way that paper mills dominated Bellows Falls or machine tool manufacturing defined Springfield. However, over the past two hundred years, its most influential and largest industry by far was organ manufacturing. Principally this meant the Estey Organ Factory from 1852 through the mid-20th century though there were other organ and melodeon manufacturers as well. However, long before organ manufacturing started, printing and paper making had been well established important industries and the town was also shaped in the early to mid 19th century by the presence of the Vermont State Asylum (now the Brattleboro Retreat) and the several world-famous water cure establishments.

Early industries of Brattleboro focused on the water power of the Whetstone Brook and were concentrated at the falls near the Connecticut River. These included mills like paper, wool carding and cloth dressing, and distilleries but other businesses developed also, notably printing, bookbinding, and trading in wholesale goods and merchandise using the early navigation of the Connecticut River. By the 1830s there were machine shops serving the paper mills and producing tools as well as the opening of the Vermont State Asylum. Other industries of the early 19th century included foundries, tanneries, and a shop making lead pipes and pumps which Jacob Estey purchased in the 1830s and ran for twenty years. Prior to the mid-19th century Brattleboro's industries and shops were clustered in the downtown near the Whitstone Falls and partly served by the early canal that gave Canal Street its name. An 1849 map[3] drawn by the Wesselhoeft Water Cure indicated that the Whetstone Brook and its falls, pools and banks were used as part of the health treatment. By the time Estey bought a major interest in a small melodeon business in 1852, the foot of Canal Street and the brook were dominated by the Woodcock & Vinton Paper mill and many other industrial shops. Estey had built a new house in the district (162 Canal Street) and several of his early employees lived nearby in the early houses along Canal Street. After devastating fires in the downtown and floods along the Whetstone had destroyed many businesses, Estey led the way to developing industries further south and west along both sides of the brook — in the area of Flat Street where water cure patients once bathed and walked. The 1869 Beers map shows his new "Cottage Organ" factory across the Whetstone from his home in the district by way of the Elm Street bridge. The Frost Woolen Mill was also shown at the end of Birge Street on the brook. Other industries started to develop on the former Frost Estate and newly laid out Flat Street extension following the construction starting in 1870 of the large new Estey Organ Factory Complex on the high part of Birge Street. Most of the industry and commerce developing in Brattleboro in the 19th century was in easy walking distance of the district's residences.

Judging by a comparison of bird's-eye views[4] from 1856 (Batchelder), 1876 (Bailey and Hazen) and 1886 (Burleigh), the new Estey factory complex was of a new scale for Brattleboro. The next largest factory pictured in 1876 was the former Estey factory on Flat Street which became the Smith & Hunt children's carriage manufacturer. The Estey Organ business continued to expand and by the end of the 19th century was a world class industry employing nearly 10% of Brattleboro's population. Other industries in Brattleboro included the Carpenter Organ Manufacturer, Brattleboro Sewing Machine Company, and many others on Flat Street and the vicinity of the railroad station near the river. During the early 20th century, the Estey Organ Company as well as the paper mill continued to flourish and sustain many smaller machine shops and reed and tool makers. While the downtown along Main Street became more solidly devoted to retail and commercial business blocks, the areas of Flat Street and the railroad continued to support the many small industries. Residents of the district and other nearby neighborhoods could easily walk or take the 1895 trolley to work in Main Street shops and hotels, the railroad area near the depot or walk to industries along Flat, Frost and Birge Streets. In the first half of the 20th century, while Brattleboro's biggest industry, — Estey Organ Company remained relatively constant in the size of its workforce and then got smaller, the population of the town rose steadily. The smaller, varied industries and shops continued to flourish and attract population away from farms in surrounding Windham County. In the period between 1890 and 1930 when most rural Vermont towns in the south hit their all-time low for population, Brattleboro continued to grow gaining 3000 residents. This growth placed increased housing pressure on working class downtown neighborhoods like the district to become denser as most people prior to World War II still walked to work: The large number of multi-unit dwellings constructed in the district during this same period was an answer to the need.

The earliest detailed map of Brattleboro was the Presdee and Edwards 1852 map which showed the large new Jacob Estey house on the north end of the small cluster of houses on both sides of this section of Canal Street. Next to the Estey House on the east side there were three other small houses shown but not labeled. Across Canal Street seven more houses are shown. This map illustrates the relative density between this more rural pattern of houses fronting the main road on large, long undeveloped lots and the more urban pattern of the Clark Street area which was closer to Main Street along Canal Street and was developed several decades earlier.

The Clark Street area, physically separated from this neighborhood by the steep hill north of the Estey home, was also originally on large lots that were subdivided. It developed with a secondary street in parallel to Canal Street that allowed many more houses on smaller lots. The well preserved 19th century Canal Street-Clark Street Neighborhood Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1993.

The houses shown near the Estey home on the 1852 map were soon joined by 4 more on the east side and one more on the west side along Canal Street by the publication of the 1856 McClellan map. The increase in density between these two maps only a few years apart is an indication, supported by the architecture itself that the neighborhood was actively being developed at that time. The names listed in 1856 on the east side were "J. Estey," "Joslyn," "Mather," "J.G. Root," "Snow," N.E. Priest," and "Mrs. Miller." Dozens of recorded real estate transactions by Jacob Estey include many in this neighborhood where he bought and sold lots, gave mortgages, and leased property to his neighbors — many of whom were also his employees. The 1856 map showed the completion of the first period of this neighborhood's evolution with the less dense, long lot pattern along a main street, having much to do with Estey's various development activities. The 1869 Beers map showed the third Estey factory in close proximity to the neighborhood on Flat Street across the Whetstone Brook. Estey owned three houses in the area including his own residence at 162 Canal Street and the house at 192 Canal Street. Both sides of Canal Street were lined with houses still on long undeveloped lots. The development further south on Canal Street changed dramatically after the neighborhood's edge at the intersection with Birge and Washington Streets. It became very rural with only four properties in open countryside for the next half mile or so.

Jacob Estey's development activities around his home was a driving force in the early mid-19th century evolution of the neighborhood in which the census of 1870 documents that at least 11 residents on the east side of Canal Street alone worked for the Estey Organ Co. including Jacob and his son-in-law, Levi K. Fuller. By that time the company had relocated and greatly expanded its factory closer to the neighborhood and its influence on the district continued to increase.

Fires, then the devastating 1869 flood, had destroyed a succession of Estey Factory buildings on Main Street next to the Whetstone falls and at Flat Street further upstream. By 1870, work had begun on the new Estey Factory Complex on a high plateau out of reach of the brook on Birge Street, just around the corner from Estey's own house. The new Birge Street location was not only well above the flood zone but had its own water supply and fire fighting capacity. The new buildings were sided and roofed in slate — an unusual approach meant to make them less susceptible to fire. These unique and visually distinctive buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 1980 with an amendment on January 9, 2007. The documentation recognized the Estey Organ Company Factory for its statewide and national significance "both for its historical role in the United States organ industry and its unique architectural character."[5] The nomination's statement of significance provides a good history of the company's growth and importance as well as the story and contributions of Jacob Estey, his son Julius, and his son-in-law, Levi K. Fuller.

The Estey Organ Company Factory nomination states "The founder of the company, Jacob Estey, entered the organ business somewhat by chance and after it had been established in Brattleboro by its pioneers — including Samuel H. and Joseph L. Jones, Riley Burdett, and Silas M. Waite...Born in 1814 across the Connecticut River in nearby Hinsdale, New Hampshire, Estey moved to Brattleboro in 1835 and took over an existing plumbing business. Early in 1852, he obtained Riley Burdett's share in the melodeon business (possibly to satisfy a claim for unpaid rent.)"[6] According to Mary Cabot in her Annals of Brattleboro[7], Jacob and Desdemona Estey were married in 1837 and lived initially in the "Parker House" that had been purchased two years earlier — likely from Stephen Parker, whose plumbing and pipe business Estey took over. Cabot writes that they lived there until their own permanent residence was built in 1854. However, since the 1852 map shows the Estey house, Cabot's date may be a little off.

According to the census Levi K. Fuller and his wife, Estey's daughter Abby, lived in the district in the same household or property with Jacob and Desdemona Estey in 1870. He was Jacob's partner starting in 1866 and a talented inventor who developed the technical aspects of the organ business that made it dominant in the industry. He and Abby built an elaborate mansion, "Pine Heights," in 1873 further south on Canal Street on the next hill. Fuller oversaw the tremendous growth of the Estey Organ Company in the last quarter of the 19th century. He was active in politics and became governor of Vermont in 1892.

Though there was no new construction activity in the Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District on the east side of Canal in the 1870s or 1880s, the 1876 Bailey & Hazen bird's eye view of Brattleboro shows the addition not only of the large factory complex on Birge Street but also the creation of a secondary street on the west side of Canal. Brook Street, which looped around the large corner of Canal and Birge Streets, was developed from some of the long lots fronting the west side of Canal Street and had five new houses by 1876. An 1886 bird's eye view of Brattleboro by Lucien Burleigh shows more infill in this area as well as the development of the Esteyville and other related neighborhoods on the hills south and west of the factory.

While the west side of Canal Street had developed a second layer of housing with Brook Street two decades earlier, the east side area of the district did not have any major changes until after the death of Jacob Estey in 1890. It was very likely due to the presence of his large homestead here that the subdivisions were focused on the west side. By the time the Horton and later Estey estates were subdivided and the new streets Horton and Fuller Places were built, the census records and directories document the housing pressure in this small area by the number of boarders and shared homes in the district. Jacob Estey remained in his home even while the success of his company exploded and he engaged in a public life of politics. His home was near his work and was surrounded by a working neighborhood with residents diverse in their incomes and occupations. Along with the president of the Estey Organ Company, lived local businessmen such as druggists and carriage manufacturers, superintendents and managers, as well as laborers, carpenters, machinists, seamstresses, organ tuners, reed fitters, and railroad workers. By contrast, Estey's son and son-in-law both moved out of the small cluster in the 1870s into large and elaborate mansions. Jacob Estey was known for his conservative practicality exemplified by his long-term commitment to the small neighborhood cluster where he started his career. This was celebrated as part of his legend as evidenced by a line drawing of his house in the Brattleboro Historical Society collection with the inscription "Jacob Estey's Modest Home."

The very detailed Sanborn Fire Insurance maps which started for Brattleboro in 1886, included the important Estey Factory showing the extent of the huge complex but did not show the little residential neighborhood along Canal Street nearby until 1906. However, a very good 1895 Miller map shows the beginnings of the next era in the history of the district. The neighborhood was still dominated on the north end by the two large properties of the Estey Estate and Andrew J. Horton, the Superintendant of the Gas Works, who had begun to subdivide his family's long lots and had created a new dead-end street named "Horton Place." The home of Andrew's father, H.B. Horton was located two doors down from the Estey residence on the 1869 Beers map. Horton was also associated with the Estey Company. By the early 1890s, the Horton property which included two dwellings on Canal Street and the long lots behind them was in the process of new development. According to a newspaper account of 1895, Andrew Horton moved an earlier house — likely his father's — back on the lot in order to build a larger home for himself with the prime Canal Street frontage. The Miller map of 1895 shows this in progress with the small house already moved back (30 Horton Place) and an empty lot on Canal where Horton would soon build his home (176 Canal Street). Horton had likely laid out "Horton Place" the year or two before the map in the center of his property and had already moved another older home (31 Horton Place) to the rear in order to construct the c.1895 modern Queen Anne style multi-family house at 182 Canal Street. The Sanborn maps of 1906 through 1925 show Horton Place as a dead end street with a "cistern" in the middle of a cul-de-sac at the end. By the 1950 map, the cistern was gone and a new water main was shown.

Another newspaper account[8] in 1906 described additional subdivision development on the "former Estey Estate" in the district. The street now called Homestead Place may have been named for the Estey homestead at the west end of the street, however it was first called Fuller Place, presumably after Levi Fuller who may have been instrumental in developing his father-in-law and business partner's estate. Fuller Place was constructed by the 1906 Sanborn map along with four houses along it. Three fronting on Fuller included 14 Homestead Place which appears to be an earlier, c.1850 house that was relocated as well as 15 and 25 Homestead Place built in 1905 and 1906 respectively. Another one fronting on Canal Street was 170 Canal Street, a Shingle style/Colonial Revival style home built in 1906 by a local carriage manufacturer, A. W. Rockwell. Two more buildings were constructed on Canal Street north of the Estey house. These were the 1905 single family home of O.D. Stowell (152 Canal Street) and the 1906 multi-family apartment building at 146 Canal Street. The 1912 Sanborn map showed Fuller Place had been renamed Homestead Place and the last two houses (1907 multi-unit 19, 20 and 22 Homestead Place) had been added. These Sanborn maps also showed continued infill development on Horton Place including the 1899 and 1905 duplexes 27 and 21 Horton Place respectively, a c.1910 duplex that no longer exists, and the three-story 1910 apartment house at 16 Horton Place. The last two buildings to be added to the compact neighborhood were the three-story apartment house at 12 Horton Place and two-story apartment building at 188 Canal Street, both built in c.1915.

Horton and Homestead Place and the district were fully developed by 1915 and only one building has been lost since that time. During a 20-year period from around 1895 to 1915, fifteen new Queen Anne style buildings were added in the district including ten very large 2 to 3-story apartment buildings and one on Horton that has been demolished). With the construction of so many new buildings in a fairly short amount of time the architectural character of the small neighborhood was dramatically changed to an overwhelmingly Queen Anne style. These substantial structures largely define the character of the district. They are similar in character due to their large 2 and 3 story massing, multi-level porches, wood siding with original trim details on most buildings, and many that have original windows or new sash to match the historic window types. Even those that have lost some detail have the distinctive Queen Anne massing common to most of them.

The overall character of this neighborhood is defined by the 19th century dwellings on Canal Street and the later, large multi-family buildings that were constructed on Canal Street, Horton Place and Homestead Place early in the 20th century. Unlike the west side of Canal Street which has changed in character substantially through commercial zoning and modern commercial development, the east side and its compact neighborhood sheltered by the large hill to the east is still entirely residential and largely intact architecturally. Only one property in the district has offices along with an apartment. The lack of traffic on the short streets preserves the quiet setting of the neighborhood and the small yards, shrubbery and some large shade trees enhance the feeling of the historic neighborhood. Although originally both were dead-end, the streets now connect behind 30 Horton Place, 20 and 22 Homestead Place and have been designated "one-way."

Since the late 1990s, the Windham Housing Trust (formerly the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust) has been buying, preserving, and rehabilitating many of the multi-unit homes in this neighborhood for affordable housing. In addition to affordable apartments, 192 Canal Street housed the offices of the Housing Trust but has since relocated to Birge Street. The current renovation of this property will convert it back to all housing. The activities of the Housing Trust have had a profound impact on the preservation of and thus the historic character of the district.

The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is a significant group of residential buildings associated with the major industrial trends of Brattleboro and with Jacob Estey the founder of the nationally significant Estey Organ Company. The early history of the neighborhood from 1850 through 1890 is closely connected with Estey and the organ factory that had so much influence over the town and region. The well preserved early Italianate home of Jacob Estey and some of the earlier houses he helped to develop continue to convey this history.

The Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District's later history is overwhelmingly conveyed visually though its remarkable collection of large Queen Anne dwellings and apartment houses built in a very short amount of time near the turn of the 20th century. The district is a very good example of the crucial community development process of urban infill in response to the intense housing pressure experienced by many industrially active Vermont towns of the early 20th century. More recently the Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District is also a good example of the equally crucial community development technique of the appropriate rehabilitation of historic structures to provide both high quality affordable housing and to revitalize deteriorated neighborhoods.


  1. Listed in the National Register on August 19, 1977.
  2. Listed in the National Register on May 10, 2005.
  3. Allen, David. Early Maps of Brattleboro Vermont, 1745-1912, With a Narrative History. West Chesterfield, N.H.: Old Maps, 2003, p.20.
  4. Ibid, pp 32-33, 38-39, & 40-41.
  5. Henry, Hugh. H. National Register Nomination for Estey Organ Company Factory. Montpelier, Vt: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1980.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Cabot, Mary R. compo and ed. Annals of Brattleboro 1681-1895,2 vol. Brattleboro, Vt.: Press of E.L. Hildreth and Co., 1922, p.631.
  8. An April 27, 1906 newspaper clipping in a scrapbook collection of the Brattleboro Historical Society reports that: "Three new houses will be erected this season on the former Estey estate on Canal Street. Cratus Weatherhead has the foundation started for a large two tenement house [146 Canal Street] between Mr. Stowell's new house [152 Canal Street] and the schoolhouse. Other houses on the opposite side of the Estey homestead [162 Canal Street] will be built by A.W. Rockwell [170 Canal Street] and W.E. Combs [25 Homestead Place]."


Allen, David. Early Maps of Brattleboro Vermont, 1745-1912, With a Narrative History. West Chesterfield, N.H.: Old Maps, 2003.

Bailey, H.H. & J.C. Hazen. Brattleboro, Vt. Brattleboro, Vt: Bailey & Hazen, 1876. (A bird's eye view).

Beers, F. W. Atlas of Windham County. New York: 1869.

Burleigh, Lucien. Brattleboro, VT. Troy, N.Y.: Burleigh Lithograph Co., 1886. (A bird's eye view).

Cabot, Mary R. compo and ed. Annals of Brattleboro 1681-1895, 2 vol. Brattleboro, Vt.: Press of E.L. Hildreth and Co., 1922.

Child, Hamilton. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windham County, Vermont, 1724-1884. Syracuse, N.Y.: The Journal Office, 1884.

Cote, Richard C. and Clark Schoettle. National Register Nomination for Canal Street Schoolhouse. Montpelier, Vt: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Unpublished documentation, 1977. (Entered into the National Register of Historic Places on August 19, 1977).

Hemenway, Abby Maria, ed., The Vermont Historical Gazetteer, Vol. V. Brandon, Vt.: Miss Carrie E.H. Page (Pub.), 1891.

Henry, Hugh. H. National Register Nomination for Estey Organ Company Factory. Montpelier, Vt: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Unpublished documentation, 1980. (Entered into the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 1980).

Liebs, Chester H. State of Vermont Historic Sites & Structures Survey for Brattleboro, Vermont. Unpublished documentation, 1971. (Vermont Division for Historic Preservation).

McClellan, C. McClellan's Map of Windham County, Vermont from actual surveys and under supervision of J. Chase, Jr. West Chesterfield, NH: Old Maps, 1984. (Originally published as a wall map: Philadelphia: C. McClellan, 1856.)

Miller, D.L. Map of Brattleboro Vermont, New York, 1895.

Presdee & Edwards. Map of the Village of Brattleboro. Windham County, Vermont. New York: Presdee & Edwards, 1852.

Pritchett, Liz. Unpublished letter addressed to Suzanne Jamele, dated May 19, 2008 titled "Request for Determination of National Register Eligibility: Canal-Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District."

Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Brattleboro, Vermont. New York: Sanborn-Perris Map Co., 1885,1906,1912,1919,1925,1950, and 1971.

Wise, Susannah, Tala Henry-Halabi, and Bob Riley. National Register Nomination for Canal Street — Clark Street Neighborhood Historic District. Montpelier, Vt: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Unpublished documentation, 1993. (Entered into the National Register of Historic Places on July 7, 1993).


Brattleboro Town Clerk's Office, various notes, deeds, land records and other public records on file.

Brattleboro Historical Society: collections, files and photographs.

Brattleboro city directories for various years.

United States census data.

‡, ‡ Lyssa Papazian, Consultant, Homestead-Horton Neighborhood Historic District, Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont, nomination document, 2008, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Canal Street • Homestead Place • Horton Place

Home | Whats New | Site Index | Contact
Privacy | Disclaimer

Copyright © 1997-2024, The Gombach Group