Community Center of Goddard College Greatwood Campus, originally a hay barn and silos
Photograph courtesy of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

  Martin Manor, Goddard College Greatwood Campus
Photograph courtesy of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

Greatwood, now a collection of fine buildings comprising Goddard College, was one of Plainfield's largest farms in the 19th century. Farmed by generations of the Martin family from the early 1800s, Willard Martin Jr. was the last to own the site. Martin was a wealthy Boston businessman, and developed the successful agricultural business he inherited from his father in 1902 into a "gentleman's farm." Gentlemen's farms were large agricultural operations using modern scientific farming techniques and breeding programs with a large estate for the family's summer use. Once known as "Vermont's Finest Farm," Greatwood is indicative of this broad pattern in agricultural history. Some of the most outstanding Shropshire Sheep and Milking Shorthorn Cattle herds in the country were raised here. Now a small college, the Greatwood site is a unique institution of higher learning.

The buildings and grounds of Greatwood, most dating to 1908, reflect major architectural and landscaping styles of the early 20th century. Martin hired architect James T. Kelly to replace the 19th-century farm buildings with an estate home and a modern agricultural complex. Kelly designed numerous barns, a creamery, clock house, greenhouse, garden house, blacksmith shop, farm manager's cottage, and the family estate. He primarily drew on the Shingle Style, with elements of the Indian Bungalow and Colonial Revival styles, to unite his complex. Arthur Shurcliff, the landscape architect during Colonial Williamsburg's restoration, designed the gardens of Greatwood, which are an integral part of the site today.

When Goddard Seminary purchased the site in 1938, it became a college with a unique philosophy of teaching and learning. The college's first president believed schools should be forums for learning, and that tests were not the best way to measure a student's success. Since its inception, Goddard College has taught in alternative ways and included students in the operation of the school. Goddard College is but one of a number of small Vermont colleges which have successfully adapted the various buildings of large summer estate farms as the educational, recreational and residential facilities that comprise a college.

Goddard College Greatwood Campus is located west of Plainfield at the intersection of Rt. 2 and State Rt. 214. The college welcomes visitors to its campus. Tours can be arranged by calling 802-454-8311.

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