The Luther Graves House

125 Washington Ave., Bennington, VT

Photograph courtesy of the Bennington Historical Society
Published April 25, 2015

     Behind the Elks Club on Washington Avenue is a white brick building with red trim and a Mansard roof. In 1867 it was the carriage house for Luther and Sarah Graves’ mansion which sat where the Elks Club is today.

      Luther Graves, a salesman, and Henry Root, a tin-maker, joined forces in 1831 to manufacture and peddle tin ware: buttons, spoons, cups, plates, pans, stove pipes. A few years later they set up a factory in Bennington. The town had no tin-maker; there would be no competition. As the company grew Graves could no longer peddle; he ran the office. By 1860 the company had 100 peddlers working out of 4 branch offices. Graves and Root were wealthy men. Graves then turned, in 1863, to establishing The First National Bank of Bennington. Root became the bank’s vice-president.

      In 1867 Luther and Sarah Graves built this 3 story brick mansion, a statement to their success. At first glance at the photograph it seems much like the Park-McCullough House built 3 years earlier. Both have belvederes, sloping Mansard roofs, arched windows, wrap around porches with slender Italianate columns. However, this house feels more solid. It is built of massive brick not lighter wood. The window hoods and arched pediments at the roof line are weighty.  The 2 story double chimneys stand like soldiers. The house was sited so that those passing by looked up at the house and knew its strength: a good house for a banker.

     The Graves family built 2 bank buildings on Main Street and 4 houses in Bennington, all architecturally interesting. This house was torn down in the 1960’s.

       Joe Hall tells more of the history of the house on WBTN’s Bygone Bennington No. 46. It can be found on-line.  

Added notes, 4/26/15:

Here is the drawing of the Park-McCullough House by the architects

 and a photograph for comparison.

The drawing is in the collection of the Park-McCullough House. I think the photograph is too. but I have no attribution.

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