History and Lore
The office of W.D. Benton Inc., Appraisers has a long and storied history. William Benton is a sixth generation Vergennes area resident. His great, great grandfather Azro Benton moved to Vermont from Connecticut. Great grandfather, Leicester Felix Benton was a teacher at Bristol Academy in the 19th century and an entrepreneur. In 1906, after a fire destroyed the shop building of the Parker and Hayes furniture factory, he purchased the site and small office on the easterly side of the Otter Creek. He constructed a brick industrial building and began a screw machine business that manufactured “The Benton” spark plug for Franklin Motor Car, Indian Motorcycle and Montgomery Ward. The business was continued under L.F. Benton’s son Cecil Benton, a former mechanical draftsman with Thomas Edison at the Edison Lab in New Jersey. In 1941, the business was sold and merged with Simmonds Aerospace. Cecil Benton’s son Malcolm became general manager of Simmonds until l958 when he left to pursue a career in banking. The small Italianate office building that has housed W.D. Benton Inc., Appraisers since 1991 is the same office building used by L.F. Benton nearly a century ago.