The Governor Hunt House
The Governor Hunt House was built by Jonathan Hunt (1738-1823), who served as lieutenant governor of Vermont from 1794 to 1796 under the state’s first governor, Thomas Chittenden. (Jonathan Hunt was never actually governor, despite the name acquired by the house.) Born in Northfield, Mass., Hunt inherited extensive acreage in the area of what is now Vernon. (See Jonathan Hunt)
Hunt built this stately home in 1764, and lived here as a bachelor (with his brother Arad) for 15 years. In 1779 he married Lavinia Swan of Worcester, Mass., who had been educated, briefly, by a future President, John Adams, during the year or two his graduation from Harvard when he worked as a teacher.
Upon the death of Jonathan Sr. in 1823, the house and associated farmlands passed to his son Arad (1790-1833), whose holdings in an estate inventory amounted to 1,731 acres. When Arad died, quite young, in 1833, the presence of the Hunts in Vernon came to an end, but multiple generations of the family achieved national prominence in the fields of law, politics, art, and architecture. (See Politics and Society at the Governor Hunt House)
The house remained a farmstead for many years, passing through quite a number of hands (See From Farmhouse to Nuclear Power Plant) until 1947, when it was acquired by Florence Louchheim Stol (1900-1967), a renowned and cosmopolitan patron of the arts, who left an important collection of contemporary art to the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
She used the house primarily as a summer retreat, entertaining a fascinating coterie of guests. (See Florence Stol and An Intellectual Salon)
Stol died at the Brattleboro hospital in 1967. The house was then acquired from her estate in 1968 by the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation as part of land acquisition for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. The house was used by Vermont Yankee as administrative office space during and after the construction of the nuclear plant, using the fireplaces for warmth as there was no other heating system in place. (See Coming Full Circle)
Finally, in 2020, the owner of Vermont Yankee, NorthStar, which is decommissioning the plan, donated the Governor Hunt House to the Friends of Vernon Center, a non-profit group, which is working to develop it into a community center for the town of Vernon.