Saturday, March 21, 2015

"A South Newfane Vermont Home"

We have lived in this old (c.1800) village home for 18 years, and we have loved it. Through its long history, it has gone through many changes and alterations, but the essential character of the "old" has been retained, even as new amenities have been incorporated. During our time as "caretakers" of this piece of history, the home has been a family home, a 3 bedroom bed & breakfast (Rock River B&B), and is once again a family home (resident family now 2).

But life continues, and it is now time for us to downsize, and to begin a transition that will bring us closer to where children and grandchildren are living.

These pages attempt to convey what this home is at the present. We also record what we have learned from the previous owner whose family had the home for over 75 years, and to present some historical photographs.

More details are available through the Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors in Brattleboro: 802-254-6400.

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First Floor Tour

First Floor Tour

The LIVING ROOM a bright, cheerful room for family and friends ...

Living Room

Living Room

Front Hall
Front Hall


Dining Room - left door to Kitchen, middle door to china closet, right door to Guest Room

Dining Room
KITCHEN -  the heart of every home

Kitchen - toward back yard

Kitchen - toward the front

Kitchen Table - view to garden

Kitchen Door - to front porch, and to Laundry
LAUNDRY - This room has been kept very much as we found it and as a nod to the home's long history. The "36" on the cupboard door (under back stairs) is a remnant of the 1974 Newfane Bicentennial Celebration when the home was on an historical tour of the town. It was a hotel in the mid 1800s. This room was also the village Post Office for a time.

Laundry - note the "36" on far wall


GUEST ROOM - This downstairs room opens to the 3/4 bath (and Kitchen), to the Dining Room, and to the Living Room. We have used this room as a Den/Study, then as a B&B Guest Room, and is now our Guest Room for visiting friends.

Downstairs Guest Room - door leads to Living Room

Guest Room - door leads to Bath

FIRST FLOOR 3/4 BATH (connects to Kitchen & Guest Room)

First Floor Bath

Second Floor Tour

MASTER BEDROOM - This room served as our Master Bedroom, then as a B&B Guest Room, and is again our Master Bedroom. The east facing windows provide cheerful sunlight in the morning.

Master Bedroom - eyebrow windows at front

Master Bedroom


Upstairs Hall looking toward front of home

Upstairs Hallway - door to 3/4 bath at top of stairs

Hallway looking from top of stairs

3/4 BATH

3/4 Bath

BEDROOM/HOBBY ROOM - This was our youngest daughter's room, then a B&B Guest Room with a double bed. Next it served as the Study, and is now a Study/Hobby Room with single bed for visiting grandchildren. It is a cozy room, cheerful and bright, especially with the afternoon sun.

Bedroom/Hobby Room

Bedroom/Hobby Room - eyebrow windows toward front of house


Full Bath

Currently the CHILDREN'S ROOM (for Grandchildren when they visit), for many years this room was Bedroom  of the Master Suite.

Children's Room looking toward front of home
Children's room looking toward back of home
 STUDY/DEN - This room has served as the Study/Den for the Master Suite, then as a Guest Room/Den, and is once again the Study/Den.

Study/Den looking toward front of home
Study/Den looking toward rear of home
Study/Den looking into Children's Room

BACK STEPS - Upstairs, the back steps lead to the Study/Den (right), and to the barn loft. Downstairs, the steps go to the Laundry, and the Garage.

Back Steps

Recent Improvements

Furnace - 2005 - Fleming Oil (now serviced by Cota & Cota)

Insulation, exterior walls & attic - 2006 - Efficiency Vermont

Note: The new furnace and insulating reduced fuel oil use from 1300 gal/year to 800 gal/year

Wood Stove & Chimney Liner - 2008 - Friends of the Sun

New Metal Roof - 2008 - Aithers Roofing


Garage Doors & Opener - 2009 - Champion Door

Septic/Drain Field - 2011 - Todd Brown Excavating - Engineering by Marquise & Morano

Exterior Repairs to barn siding and house trim - 2011

Yard - top soil & plantings - 2012 - Todd Brown Excavating

Exterior Painting - 2012 - Newfane Painters - This was the first professional painting of the exterior in the home's history. Fully licensed & trained in lead abatement. Additional minor repairs made during painting.

Kitchen Painting - 2013 - Brooks Brothers

New Toilets - 2013 - Cota & Cota Plumbing

Ceiling repair - front hall, Paint LR, DR, Hall  - 2014 - Newfane Painters

Improvements - Changes - Other Important Matters

In 1970, the Solbergs (former owners) became full-time residents. They did major renovations and improvements as they converted the home from part-time to full-time, including (but not limited to):
  • Replaced most of the stone foundation with concrete block
  • Converted barn to two car garage & single bay shop
  • Concrete floor for garage
  • Extended kitchen and remodeled
  • Sanded floors
  • Change from spring fed water supply to drilled well
  • Installed forced hot air oil furnace
When we purchased the home in 1997, we spent a year redecorating: stripping wall paper, painting, refinishing floors. We did some remodeling:
  • wood plank floors in the Children's Room and Study/Den
  • book shelves in Children's Room, Den, hall (up & down stairs)
  • 3/4 bath at top of stairs
  • new fixtures in full bath (except tub) and downstairs 3/4 bath
  • door from downstairs Guest Room to 3/4 bath
  • New kitchen counters, some changes to counter tops, flooring
  • Master Bedroom - cut door to closet - removed wall to enlarge room 
Master Bedroom before remodeling

Master Bedroom - removing front wall to enlarge room
  • In 1999, the well casing was brought above grade to comply with current standards 
  • In 1999, the shop floor was removed and completely rebuilt. The old planks forming the floor were put on top of the floor joists and plywood underlayment. Similar work was done on the barn loft floor over the shop
  • In 1999-2000, old aluminum storms were removed and single pane window sash replaced with new windows tracks, and window sash with energy panel. The energy efficiency of the windows was significantly improved.


VIEW EASMENT - Provides that no structure (except one for agricultural purposes) shall be built on the property across the Rock River from the home west of an extension of the north boundary line of our property. June 22, 1998.

UNDERGROUND TANK - Removal of 1,000 gal underground fuel oil tank, October 20, 1998, in accordance with all established procedures and under supervision of an environmental engineer. Letter from Agency of Natural Resources, dated July 7, 1999.

FLOOD PLAIN - The structure (home and barn/garage) are NOT in the Special Flood Hazard Area (Flood Plain). Dated September 17, 1999

In 1999, the WELL CASING was brought above grade to comply with current water & health standards


The previous owner reported that the home dated to circa 1795, but we do not have documentation. Town records from late 1700s and early 1800s have been lost.

A map of South Newfane (Pond Ville) shows our home. Unlike most of the buildings in the village, there is no name associated with the home. It is noted as "Hotel."

Our home begins to reveal more definite history sometime in the late nineteenth - early twentieth century with the following photo. The written notes at bottom identify the people as (l. to r.) Deacon Brown, Mrs Willard's mother, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Willard. The building connecting the house and barn is one story. The chimneys are inside, and there is a kitchen chimney. The decorations on the porch are common adornments added to homes during the late Victorian era.

The history of the home and its changes becomes more certain beginning in 1920 when Charles & Clara Brown sold the house and property to Lars Reque. The property passed to his wife Edith Reque, and then to Walter and Elsie Solberg (I believe Elsie Solberg was Edith's daughter). Various parts of the property were sold or transferred over the years. Chris and Thanice Petrak purchase the home and .6 acres +/- from Elsie Solberg's estate in 1997.

The Reques used the home as a part-time residence. Probably in the 1920s, they "raised the roof" of the building which joins the house and barn, and added the sun porch. Dover Road is a dirt lane. It seems to show tire tracks from an automobile, but the tire marks in the drive appear narrow - perhaps from a buggy. The grand old maple which currently stands in the front yard is a small sapling

The porch roof which spanned the front of the house has been removed and replaced with a front door porch. It also appears that the chimney on the east end (living room) has been replaced with the current fireplace chimney. This is better seen in the second photo below.

In the mid to late 1930s, the sun room was removed and the current fireplace and furnace (2 flues) was added outside of the Dining Room. The kitchen chimney is still present. The 2nd story bedroom window was moved when the chimney was installed.

"1953" is written on the next photo showing the back of the house. Compare the photo with the one below it to see the changes. Also note that the louvered shutters have been replace with home made shutters. The door which goes into the downstairs guest room was removed in 1997.

Compare the previous photo with the next photo. To give a reference point, in the photo above the downstairs window on the far left is the Living Room, the door (now replaced with a window) and the next window are the Guest Room. In the photo below, the left window and the second window are the Guest Room.