Grasse Mount Building

More From Vermont

A spirit or two has issues with the decor…

A spirit has decided to politely reinstate her status as lady of the house.

 

DESCRIPTION

Grasse Mount (Captain Thaddeus Tuttle House) is a beautiful blend of Federal, Georgian, Italianate and Colonial Revival styles in a “two-story brick mansion with a hipped-roof, a mid-1800s, Italianate cupola, and balustrade which runs along the perimeter of the roof adorned with cornices between the second story window bays, which are flanked by exterior louvered shutters.”

The visitor will also note the Colonial Revival style sun porch on the west and the lovely entry porticos on the north and east side of the structure.

Grasse Mount is currently being used as the headquarters of University Development and Alumni Relations, with most of the offices on the second floor, and southern ell brick two story structure. It is quite a beauty to see! It has been restored and it shines with its great architecture.

 

HISTORY

The original ninety acre estate was owned by Ira Allen, the brother of Ethan Allen, both active in the Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolution. Ira Allen founded the University of Vermont in 1780, by presenting a plan to the Vermont state legislature, starting a fund for this purpose and donating fifty acres of land in Burlington.

In 1790, Ira was sent to France to convince the French to seize Canada and create an independent country; bringing with him on his ship 20,000 muskets and 24 cannons. Ira Hale was captured at sea by the English and charged with arming the Irish Rebels. Ira sat in jail for eight years but was finally found innocent because of a lawsuit.

This huge delay destroyed his financial empire; loosing most of his land. He had to flee Burlington to avoid debtors prison. Though he died a poor but wiser man in Philadelphia, his effort to create U of Burlington were not forgotten, The Ira Allen Chapel was built on U of V., and dedicated on January 14th, 1927.

During that time, ninety acres of his land was sold to Captain Thaddeus Tuttle, a successful merchant, where he built structures to suite his wants and needs.

In 1804, Captain Thaddeus Tuttle not only built the Bittersweet House to be his store, just west of his estate but also this grand mansion, which show cased his wealth.However this glorious mansion turned out to be a money sucker to maintain.

In 1824, Captain Tuttle sold it to Cornelius Peter Van Ness because Tuttle went bankrupt, due to the fact that his business was based on the barter system. Captain Tuttle spent the rest of his days living on the Bittersweet House property.

During the time when Cornelius Peter Van Ness was serving as Vermont’s governor, Herman Allen, nephew of Ira Allen, lived in this grand house, and called it Grassemount, after an American Revolutionary hero, Frenchman François Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse. Herman Allen served as a Vermont Representative to Congress and as an ambassador.

Attorney Henry Leavenworth bought the estate in 1845. He divided the land into housing lots and put in two new streets, Summit Street and Prospect Street; now Maple St.. Three acres of land and Grasse Mount Mansion itself were sold to Captain Marvin in 1853.

Marvin made some improvements, financing a number of beautiful, artistic additions to this mansion over a ten year period; making it even more glorious! On the roof top, an Italianate cupola was built, a gas-powered “illumination system” was installed, and all the wooden fireplace mantels were replaced with Italian marble.

The mansion’s exterior was painted pink with green shutters. For sprucing up the interiors, Marvin hired at least two Italian professional artisans to paint quite a few frescos throughout the eight rooms the stairway and the cupola.

The subjects of all these frescos were scenes from his “seafaring years”, using watercolors and distempers as the art medium. For added pizzaz, all the images in the frescos “convey the optical illusion of having three-dimensions.”

The artisans skillfully used a shadowing technique with the panels, which suggested “flooding sunlight emanating from the western windows.”

The next owners, Lawrence and Lucinda Barnes in 1866, decided some changes and modernizations were in order. Structurally, a conservatory was built on the west side and a two story brick ell was added to a wooden structure on the south side.They added the Colonial Revival style sun porch on the west and entry porticos on the north and east in the 1870s.

The mansion’s inside decor needed some revisioning. Of course, indoor plumbing and coal-burning fireplaces were added; at least five on first floor and four on the second. Coal was much more efficient than wood.

Yikes! The frescos were not appreciated, so Lucinda painted over them or covered them up with wallpaper. Stenciled geometric motifs leaves and vines, were added. The interior pine woodwork was replaced by the heartier wood, black walnut. The added touch was replacing wooden mantelpieces with marble pieces that came from Spain.

After thirty three years of living there, Lucinda followed her husband, dying in 1892. The mansion sat empty until July first, 1895 when the University of Vermont bought Grasse Mount and its three acre estate for $12,000; about half of what it was worth. The Barnes Estate wanted to get rid of it, and who better to sell it to then U of V? This new U of V Grasse Mount Women’s Dormitory started out with thirteen women residents and grew to the number of twenty-nine female residents in 1966.

Maintenance and improvements continued at Grasse Mount. Apparently, this well-loved building was well maintained and upgraded. In 1915, the residents raised money to install hardwood floors to replace the 1804 wide boards. In 1929, major improvements were made in the maintenance needs of Grasse Mount, covering not only repairs but also redecoration and refinishing. The exterior was painted a warm yellow color that suited it very well indeed.

In 1971, two big changes came to Grasse Mount. New residence halls were opened for women, and they moved out of Grasse Mount. Plus, Grasse Mount was added to the National Register of Historic Places as well. In 1972, U of V was inspired to restore Grasse Mount to its original “historical architectural context.”

“Modifications first included safety and code requirements for heating, structural and electrical repairs. The second phase restored the main parlors, main circular staircase, and three bedrooms at the front of the mansion. The final phase of the project involved restoring the exterior of the building.”

While restoring the walls, the frescos; (“unique 19th century wall art”) and “ceiling imagery” were discovered. Because of limited funds, not all of the lovely art decor presented in the mansion were completely restored because of a lack of funds and the pressing need for office space. It would’ve been a 500,000 dollar price tag. However, a window of restored art was uncovered in some of the rooms to show what it looked like.

Two decorated ceilings were removed to storage at the University’s Fleming Museum of Art. Other “revealed art work” was documented, traced and then covered with a protective non-vinyl wallpaper, pasted on with a water-based adhesive for easy removal.

People who have their offices here surely have a beautiful place to work. Apparently, a few spirits still love this place too, even they don’t quite approve its new look in places!

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

When a person had an attitude of dislike for a physical feature or an item or idea, and changed it while alive, they may be upset when this idea or physical feature was added to their forever home after they died. They find ways to show their displeasure!

Bullock Hotel, SD (Lawman Seth Bullock had a dim view of gamblers and gambling. He had a fit when one arm bandits were being installed into his hotel, and went after the gambling machine facilitator who had the nerve to stay in Bullock’s hotel).

Colonel Michael Swope Townhouse, VA (He had a strong dislike for the British because of their cruel treatment of him and other patriots in their custody during The Revolutionary War. When a British woman came to look at his townhouse to maybe buy this property, his spirit made it clear;”NO!”)

Booth House, UVM, VT (The spirit of Mr. Booth was very unhappy with the renovations done to his dream home that covered up the vintage wooden floors with carpeting and painted the lovely, natural wood and woodwork).

Grasse Mount Building VT (A spirit or two are unhappy with the living for some reason).

One possible candidate: Spirit of Lucinda Barnes who covered up the old artwork because she thought it was awful. Here the dolts have opened up a window in some of the rooms to show case the art she despised.

Second candidate: Spirit of Captain Mason may be upset that not all of the frescos were uncovered.

 

Sometimes spirits will deliberately appear in front of the living to be polite and let them know they are there; sharing the space with the living.

Westover Plantation, VA (The spirit of Evelyn Bird appears to the living as a solid person, behaving like a friendly hostess).

Bittersweet House, VT (The spirit of Margaret Smith appears in front of the living because she is interested in what they are doing, and is also the hostess of her house).

Captain Benson Bailey House Museum, NE (The spirit of Captain Benson Bailey can appear and walk around his house for show, for the benefit of the living).

Grasse Mount, VT (The spirit of the lady of the house; probably Lucinda or Ellen has decided to let others know that she is still there, sharing the mansion with them).

 

Sometimes spirits visit the spirit they loved while alive in the structure that this spirit has decided to stay for various reasons.

Old Allen House, AR (The spirit of LaDell still stays here, and the spirit of her son stays to keep her company. Her spectral parents come and visit too!)

LeDuc Historic Estate Museum, MN (The spirit of William LeDuc is enjoying his house, and the spirit of his daughter, Alice has stayed to be with him).

Whaley House Museum, CA (Spirit of the Whaley daughter, the distraught Violet, still mourns her bad marriage, and her spectral parents stay to comfort her, and take care of her little brother who died in toddlerhood).

Grasse Mount, VT (The female spirit, probably Lucinda, may have her husband’s spirit visiting her, or other family members. or Ellen Mason could be visiting here husband, Captain Mason).

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Apparently, one spirit is very upset perhaps because either not all the art was uncovered and restored, or because windows of art exist in many rooms showcasing art that was not appreciated by the spirit.

Notice Me, I’m Upset!

On the second floor, an unseen presence or two may be expressing how they feel.

Many people, including Former director of Continuing Education Lynne Ballard have heard loud noises coming from upstairs that were not friendly sounds; doors were slamming, footsteps were pounding and Bothe cabinets and windows rattling loudly.

Every time the police came to investigate, no one living was there.

Possibly, More than One

Disembodied voices are heard talking when no one else is in a room.

Doors and windows open and close normally by themselves, not slammed.

Spirit of a Female (Lucinda or Ellen)

Recently, Deb Bryan, a UVM employee actually saw a female apparition. Ms Bryan was walking down the hallway when she got the creepy feeling that someone was right behind her.

As her hair on the back of her neck, stood up, she looked behind her and saw a translucent form of a woman with light coming from behind her.

She turned away in fright but felt compelled to look back again. The spirit was gone. She did a full search in the halls that were upstairs and downstairs and nothing living was there.

STILL HAUNTED?

Yes Indeed!

The Vermont Agency of Paranormal Organized Research (VAPOR) reports that Grass Mount is one of the most haunted structures on the University of Vermont campus, with a long history of paranormal activity.

The living have inadvertently annoyed and vexed the female spirit who still resides here, and feels that she still has a say in decor. She may have been residing here for a long time, and may wish that not so many living people would use her forever home. it may be hard to share.

She may be turning the corner, for she has appeared in person, perhaps deciding to be more hospitable and behave like a polite person. Perhaps not. She could just asserting her right to be there as she sees it.

 

LOCATION

411 Main Street in the central UVM Campus.

Grasse Mount makes prominent statement, sitting on a large lot on the corner of Main Street and Summit Street, in Burlington’s upscale Hill Section.

 

SOURCES INCLUDE

  • Haunted Vermont, by Thomas D’Agostino, Schiffer Publishing, pg.32, 2011.
  • Only In Your State Website, Driving Through This Haunted Vermont Neighborhood Will Give You Nightmares, April 28, 2016 by Kristin Grimes
  • npgallery.nps.gov
  • Wikipedia : Grass Mount and Ira Allen pages. (History)
  • UVM Education website, campus, Grassemount. And History of Grasse Mount
  • New England and Folklore Blogspot, Campus Ghosts at University of Vermont, By Peter Muise, April 8th, 2018
  • The Vermont Cynic, Saturday, October 10, 2020, HAUNTED UVM, January 17, 2008

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Vermont