A New National Register District

The Norwich Historic Preservation Commission has nominated the 15 homes in the Hopson Road neighborhood as a National Historic District. It is described as “one of the best concentrated collections of these styles (of homes) in Vermont.”

When thinking about historic preservation, we naturally think about saving the stately Federal and Greek Revival buildings in our communities. This emphasis on preserving the 19th-century landscape makes the architect-designed modern homes of the mid-twentieth century vulnerable. Recognizing the contribution of these homes to Norwich’s unique sense of place and character, will create increased interest in stewardship and preservation.

The challenge today is to find ways to preserve the design of these homes, while at the same time making them comfortable and energy-efficient. The architects designed the modern homes of this period with the latest in building technologies, but the large windows, single-paned and framed with metal and insulating materials, were not as efficient as today’s standards. This cluster of houses is evidence that a pocket of Norwich residents was striving beyond the town’s 19th-century cultural roots and embracing new ideas that married house to land.

While the materials and construction techniques might be outdated, the philosophy of their design is not. Today we still seek to design homes that bring families together, open up to nature, and surround us with beauty such as The Jacobson House.