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Thomas W. Wood, a Montpelier resident and well-known painter during the nineteenth century, built the pair of houses in the last half of the nineteenth century. The first structure, built in 1850, served as his summer home and studio until the 1880s when he built the second cottage exclusively to use as a studio. Wood often used local residents as subjects for his work, and he was active in the community. Thus, both Wood and his house were highly significant to the town.

2008 Photo Athenwood & Thomas W. Wood Studio

2008 Photo Athenwood & Thomas W. Wood Studio

1974 Photo of Athenwood & Thomas W. Wood Studio via the National Parks Service

1974  Photo of Athenwood & Thomas W. Wood Studio via the National Parks Service

Built during the last half of the nineteenth-century in Montpelier stand two cottage buildings referred to as Athenwood and the Thomas W. Wood studio. The buildings are also associated with Montpelier native Thomas Waterman Wood, one of the most popular painters of the nineteenth century. Wood designed the buildings himself, starting with Athenwood in 1850 followed by his art studio during the 1880s. 

Wood built Athenwood (1850) with the intention to use it as a summer home, which demonstrates Montpelier's role as a summer resort during the mid-nineteenth-century. With a Rural Gothic design, the building's name comes from the Greek mythological figure, Athena. Wood chose the name as a tribute to his wife Minerva, whose name comes from the Greek goddess of wisdom. The house decor included numerous, small marble statues of Athena's head. In addition to functioning as a summer retreat, Athenwood served as Wood's artist studio until he built the second, separate cottage in the 1880s. 

Several of Montpelier's citizens worked as the subjects and models for Wood's paintings. Wood also served as President of the American Water Color Society and the National Academy and proved to be a significant benefactor of Montpelier. Thus, Wood and his art studio evolved into a substantial part of the Montpelier culture and now exist as a notable aspect of the city's history. 

Merrill, Perry Henry. Montpelier: The Capital City's History, 1780-1976 Paperback. Montpelier: Merrill, 1976

National Park Service. "Athenwood & Thomas W. Wood Studio." Central Vermont: Explore History in the Heart of the Green Mountains. Accessed August 21st 2019.

Roomet, Louise. "Nomination Form: Athenwood & Thomas W. Wood Studio." National Register of Historic Places. June 13, 1974.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

By GearedBull, Jim Hood - Own work, CC BY 3.0,