History of the General Stannard House
The General Stannard House is a nationally important resource tied to the American Civil War. The General’s house is demonstrably close to the point of no-return which would occur in a structural collapse. The building has been stubbornly resisting that outcome. Action is urgently needed to arrest the cause of deterioration, and remediate the results of water penetrating the roof over the years. We are currently fundraising to complete Phase 1 of a rehabilitation plan - Stabilization - outlined here. Join us.
To a man who changed the course of American history, a lack of action would be more challenging to absorb, we suspect, than is the challenge confronted by the stakeholders who wish to preserve this piece of history.
General George Stannard owned this house and worked here. He lost his right arm in the Battle of Fort Harrison in 1864. He resigned from the Army in 1866 and purchased this farm in Milton, Vermont. He built a barn that could be run by a one-armed man. In the 1870 census, Stannard's primary residence is listed as Burlington, at which he shared time with this house and farm until it was sold in 1872. He eventually moved to Washington, DC. The Raymond Sanderson family owned and farmed the land until 1989, when the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation bought the land for further development. The State of Vermont designated the site on its Historic Register in April 1980. The barns were burned as a training exercise for the Milton Fire Department. Various ideas for use of the home were floated. They included full restoration for historical education and honors, new site of the Milton Historical Museum, or razing the structure to build new businesses. Nothing could be changed without numerous proper permits and State approval.
Still, local interest continued. Two different appraisals for restoration costs were done, at ten year intervals. They ranged from $200,000 to $500,000, depending on degrees of restoration. At Milton's Civil War Soldiers’ Monument Rededication in 2004, historian and noted author Howard Coffin emphasized the home’s historical significance and said
“It should be saved.” Three local schoolgirls took action in 2005-2006 to “fix-it-up.” They patched, painted, and fundraised to save the house. The hurdles of cost, permits and, especially, the presence of lead paints stopped the project.
More local attention came to General Stannard’s house in the summer of 2013. Members of the Milton Select Board noted its decay and the impression it made on visitors’ entry to the Town of Milton. Thus began renewed interest from our community in saving the house. Later that year, Coffin said, “I will do everything I can. The house needs to be saved. A monument would be without any value, (there’s) already a big one in Georgia (Vermont).”
1820 – George Jerrison Stannard is born in Georgia, Vermont.
c. 1840 – House is built.
c. 1840 – 1849 – Dr. Calvin Deming (1774-1849) lives in and practices medicine at the house.
1868 – Civil War General George Stannard purchases and lives in the house. Has a barn barn built, to accommodate needs of a one-armed man. Raises horses and beef cows on the farm, and runs a brick-making foundry in St. Albans.
1873 – General Stannard sells property and relocates to Washington, DC.
1886 – Stannard passes away.
1950s – Back garage is added off back left corner of house.
Mid-1900’s - 1989 – Raymond Sanderson home and farm.
1980 – Property is placed on Vermont State Historic Register.
1989 – Raymond Sanderson passes away, Greater Burlington Industrial corporation (GBIC) purchases property. Condition Assessment is performed. Barn is burned for Milton Fire Dept. training exercise. House sits vacant.
1995 – Milton Historical Society investigates the house as possible museum site after town moves out of Clark Memorial Building.
1990s - early 2000s – Several businesses express interest in repairing and using the property. State and town regulations and zoning prevent any deals from taking place.
2004 – At Milton’s Civil War Soldiers’ Monument Rededication, keynote speaker Howard Coffin states that due to its historical significance, the house “should be saved”.
2005-2006 - Milton Middle School students August Cyr, Alison Joseph and Mae Kemsley raise awareness of General Stannard and the historical significance of the house, modest cosmetic repairs are done, discussion of renovation. Kenneth Adams Construction estimates full repair at $400-500K. Lead paint, cost, other reasons halt project.
2012 – REM Development purchases house and surrounding property and builds Gardener’s Supply distribution center directly behind the house, with entrance alongside Stannard House.
Nov. 2012 – Conversation re-opened with Frank Cioffi to re-open discussion about what can be done to save the house. Slow to keep the discussion going, which now needs to include new property owners REM Development / Bobby Miller.
June 2013 – Milton Town Manager Brian Palaia sends email to the Milton Historical Society stating that a Selectboard member wants something done about the Stannard House, whether it is restoration, demolition with a historic marker, or another solution. The concern is that deterioration will continue at this gateway to our community, and this lack of care does not contribute to a positive visual impression when entering town. Asks whether the Society and others would like to weigh in and help. The answer is Yes.
August 2013 – A group of about 20 people enter the house to visually survey its condition. Owner Bobby Miller gives his verbal support to interested people rehabilitating the house for a public use, with the option of leasing the building for $1 a year.
December 2013 – Discussion is opened with The Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTVT); Field Rep Ann Cousins tours the house and directs us to their Condition Assessment Program.
May 2014 – With matching grants from PTVT and the Town of Milton, Scott Newman performs Condition Assessment.
July 2014 – Meet with Colchester Historical Society at Airport Park Log Schoolhouse to discuss their restoration project completed in 2007; General Stannard House Committee is formed.
August 2014 – Received Vermont Division of Historic Preservation and ACT 250 Commission approval to proceed with a stabilization plan as outlined in Scott Newman's Conditions Assessment.
The decaying old home is what remains of the farm and living space of the man “who, at Gettysburg, may well have changed the course of world history when he ordered his 2nd Vermont Brigade to attack the right flank of Pickett’s Charge.” General George Stannard, born in Georgia, VT, was this man. His biographer, George Maharay, wrote “Had Pickett’s Charge succeeded and the war ended, North and South might have become two nations. That didn’t happen and the Union was preserved.” If “Gettysburg provides the climax of the war, then the climax of the climax, the central moment of our history, must be Pickett’s Charge.”
Further details on the house's history to come.
Mid-1800s, looking north
The barn that General Stannard had built in the late 1860s
February 1977 - Vermont Division of Historic Preservation photo