Parley Davis House
Photograph courtesy of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

  Parley Davis
Photograph courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society

The Parley Davis House, located in the center of East Montpelier, is an excellent example of an early Federal style residence. It is one of only a few remaining examples in the region of early Vermont architecture. Parley Davis, one of Montpelier's founders, built the house in stages, similar to most settlers in the region, from 1795 to 1805. In addition to serving as his residence for 54 years, the house was the location of Montpelier's town meetings from 1791 until 1828, after which they were held in the newly constructed Union Meeting House.

Davis arrived in Montpelier in 1787 to help start the first settlement there. He was living in a small log cabin in 1794 when he married Rebecca Peabody, a healer who had come to Montpelier to minister to a sick man. Davis subsequently constructed a frame cabin in 1795, which he expanded in 1799, into a more substantial Cape-type house, the main portion of the current house's rear ell. The main block of the current building, facing Center Street, was finally erected in 1805. Minimally altered over the past two centuries, that portion of the house maintains its classically symmetrical exterior features, although the original clapboards and part of the eave moldings are currently covered with aluminum siding. The interior also features elegant Federal details, including an unusual curving parlor wall, a very sophisticated Federal feature rarely seen in Vermont.

Davis's activities in the early history of Montpelier lend further significance to the house. Accompanying his uncle, Colonel Jacob Davis, Parley Davis was one of the first permanent white settlers of Montpelier. Initially he helped survey the town, built a sawmill, and was elected constable and tax collector in 1791 at the first town meeting. After this meeting, all others were held at Davis's home until 1828. Throughout his lifetime Davis contributed to the town in a variety of ways; he established the first library in his house, participated actively in the local militia and War of 1812, held seats in the Vermont legislature, and was chairman of the Vermont Railroad Association 18 years before Vermont's first railroad was built. Currently the Davis home is a private residence and rental property. Much needed repairs to the home were made when the current owners took advantage of federal historic preservation tax credits.

The Parley Davis House is located in East Montpelier Center on Center Rd. (Town Hwy. 3) near its intersection with Brazier Rd. (Town Hwy. 50). It is a private residence and not accessible to the public.

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