Rabbit Hill Inn, Architecture to Stay In

Visiting and Revisiting New England Colonial Architecture

The Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont dates back to the years just after America's revolutionary war, and its details tell a story about changing tastes and needs in the emerging nation. Make architecture your reason to visit exciting travel destinations like the Rabbit Hill Inn, with photos, resources, and travel advice.

 

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Lower Waterford, Vermont, Circa 1795

Exterior facade of Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont
Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont. Photo © Jackie Craven

Perched on a green knoll on a winding road through northern Vermont, the Rabbit Hill Inn has the stately aura of an Antebellum estate. Don't be fooled by the porches, and pillars, however. The inn actually is the offspring of Colonial America.

1795: Federalist Beginnings

The main building was constructed by Samuel Hodby, a prosperous merchant who recognized that his land could become an important stopover—on the trade route between the St. Lawrence Harbor in Montreal, Canada and the busy ports in Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as an inn, a pub, and a general store, Samuel Hodby's Tavern reflected the Federalist ideals of the day. Windows were arranged symmetrically around a central doorway while graceful details such as fanlights suggested an air of dignity.

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1800s Growth and Expansion

Bedroom at Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont
Bedroom at Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont. Photo © Jackie Craven

The first dramatic change came when another merchant, Jonathan Cummings, built a three-story home and workshop next door to the tavern. By 1825, Cummings was building wagon wheels, sleigh parts, and farming machinery in the adjacent building.

1830s: Greek Revival Flourishes

In the early 1830s, the tavern and the workshop were purchased by business partners who transformed the facade by adding very popular Greek Revival details. The remodeled inn had porches with massive columns. Inside the main building, the new owners added a distinguished sitting room.

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1855: Victorian Era

Bedroom at Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont
Bedroom at Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont. Photo © Jackie Craven

The inn kept up with the times. New England ushered in the Industrial Age with the familiar Victorian iron bed frame.

But, once again, the property changed hands. The new owner, O.D. Hurlburt added a state-of-the art ballroom with bentwood floors and tin chandeliers crafted by local artisans. The floor, which has a special spring-like effect for dancers, and one of the chandeliers is part of the present-day inn.

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1919: The Gilded Age

Landscape of Vermont's Rabbit Hill Inn
Landscape of Vermont's Rabbit Hill Inn. Photo © Jackie Craven

The expansion of railroads in the early 1900s brought new wealth to the old trade routes. The inn became a restful resort for the families of prosperous industrialists. In 1919, the philanthropist J.W. Davies bought the entire town of Lower Waterford, and his wife set to work restoring the village houses and the inn. The buildings were painted white with dark green shutters, making Lower Waterford renown as the "White Village of Vermont."

1957 - 1987:

After Mrs. Davis died, Rabbit Hill passed through several owners who continued to operate the buildings as an inn.

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1987 - present: Historic Restorations

Bathroom at the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont
Bathroom at the Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont. Photo © Jackie Craven

Many of the interior rooms were renovated to restore original features of the colonial building. Also, modern features such as gas fireplaces and whirlpool tubs were incorporated without altering the original dimensions of the rooms. The Rabbit Hill Inn is currently owned by longtime innkeepers who have continued the restorations. The surrounding "White Village" is a Historic District and has become one of the most photographed villages in Vermont. It's SO New England!