The Judd-Harris House, the rooms of which display much of the Henry Sheldon Museum’s collection, was built in 1829 by the marble merchant Eben Judd and his son-in-law Lebbeus Harris. They were owners of a quarry and marble works near the falls of Otter Creek in Middlebury. Their three-story brick Federal house was a monument to their expertise in the marble industry. Judd and Harris both died in 1837. With marble columns and window lintels and six elegant fireplaces of rare black marble, the house continues to have a stately presence in Middlebury center.
In the 1850s Henry Sheldon moved into the house as a boarder. Within a few years he began to accumulate the collection which would become the core of the Henry Sheldon Museum. A Middlebury town clerk, merchant, railway agent and musician, Sheldon left as his legacy a large and somewhat idiosyncratic collection of artifacts and written materials, primarily from Vermont. In 1882 Sheldon founded the Sheldon Art and Archaeological Museum and Historical Society in the Judd-Harris House, which he purchased. The Henry Sheldon Museum is the oldest community-based museum in the United States.
The Judd-Harris House is open year round for self-guided tours. Visitors will learn about the region’s settlement, industries, natural resources, and inhabitants, as they view the fine collection of furniture, art, and artifacts. During the holiday season, the annual Holiday Open House features period themes and decorations throughout the beautiful 1829 house. The Walter Cerf Gallery hosts changing exhibits exploring historical themes and showcasing local art and craft traditions. Visitors enjoy browsing through the Museum’s shop or picnicking in our beautiful garden, designed and maintained by the Middlebury Garden Club.