Kent's Corner Historic District
Photograph by CB Johnson

  Kent's tavern and saw mill
Photographs courtesy of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The small collection of buildings that comprise the Kent's Corner Historic District are reminiscent of a 19th-century Vermont crossroads hamlet. The one square mile of the district contains an intact collection of buildings from this time period that were the nucleus of a small rural community. The remaining buildings include Kent's Tavern, a saw mill, and a few houses, barns and outbuildings.

The most prominent building is Kent's Tavern. Constructed in 1837 by Abdiel Kent, it was originally "A. Kent's Hotel," a stop on the Montreal to Boston stage line. Stage horses needed to be changed both before and after the ten mile trip to Montpelier, and after realizing that the Kent family property was the mid-point of that stage route, a young Kent decided to construct a hotel. Kent built a large brick rectangular domestic building, while living in a small frame structure behind it. This wooden section eventually became the tavern's rear ell, providing space for a kitchen, pantry and buttery. Almost all of the building materials were made or produced within a short distance of the building site, illustrating the independence of small rural communities. Brick came from the family brickyard, wood came from the farm and was sawn in the mill, iron work was done in the family blacksmith shop, granite came from a local quarry, while windows and blinds came from a factory in North Calais. Kent's hotel opened with a Thanksgiving Day Ball in 1837, held in the large ballroom on the second floor. After 1846, when Kent was married and the railroad was replacing the stage's business, Kent gave up his hotel business and made the tavern his family home. Kent became involved with other family businesses and operated a general store in the frame ell behind his home.

The saw mill is an industrial site of considerable architectural and archeological interest, representative of the water-powered lumber milling industry in Vermont. The relatively intact mill is typical for northern New England, and one of very few surviving examples. A timber wheel house was located on the north side of the rectangular mill, water to power the wheel was drawn from a nearby pond. The first floor of the mill housed equipment, while the second was the working floor.

The boundaries of Kent's Corner Historic District extend a quarter mile in each direction along Kent Hill and Old West Church Rds. at their intersection known as Kent's Corner, east of Calais. The tavern, owned by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, re-opened as an art museum in 2001 after undergoing restoration. Visitors can call 802-223-6613 for hours and more information.

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