Burlington, the seat of Chittenden County, is situated on the shores of Lake Champlain at the mouth of the Winooski River. The city,the largest in Vermont, is an industrial and commercial center as well as the gateway to the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks.Samuel de Champlain, exploring on behalf of France, was the first European known to have reached the future site of Burlington. In 1609,he found a village at the mouth of the Winooski, occupied by members of the Abenaki tribe.Burlington was chartered in 1763 by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. Ethan Allan built a home in Burlington in 1787 and lived there until his death in 1789. A 40-foot marble monument marks Ethan Allan's grave.Burlington played an important role in the War of 1812, due to its strategic location on Lake Champlain. In 1823, the Champlain Canal opened, connecting the lake with the Hudson River and opening Burlington to southbound water commerce. The Burlington Breakwater was constructed in 1837.City Hall Park, situated on land originally designated in 1790 for a courthouse, is surrounded by historic public buildings, including the Burlington City Hall and the old Ethan Allan Firehouse. On the heights above Burlington is the campus of the University of Vermont. It is situated in the University Green Historic District, one of 12 historic districts in Burlington. Trinity College, which had occupied a nearby campus since 1925, closed in 2000 and its campus was purchased by the University of Vermont.When Burlington was incorporated in 1865, a portion was split off to form South Burlington, which, interestingly, lies to the east ofBurlington.
In 1962 architecture student Bill Truex experienced the transformation of Stroget, Copenhagen&rsquos main shopping &ndashfrom "traffic-snarled nightmare&rdquo to successful pedestrian mall. Seven years later, as chair of the Burlington Planning Commissioner, Truex enlisted the support of Pat Robins, chair of the Street Commission, to promote the idea of turning Church Street into an inviting pedestrian district. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and his chief of staff, Paul Bruhn, secured a federal grant and Burlington voters, with support from Mayor Gordon Paquette, passed a bond for the city's share of construction costs.
Church Street&rsquos two middle blocks (between College & Cherry) were officially closed to traffic on July 7, 1980. The Church Street Marketplace, which opened on September 15, 1981, has been described as the "gem in the crown" of the Queen City of Burlington.
In 1994, the Church Street&rsquos top block (between Cherry and Pearl Streets) was closed to vehicular traffic and resurfaced with brick. In 2005, City Hall Block (between Main and College) was the final block to be closed to vehicles and resurfaced with brick.
The Church Street Marketplace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been designated as one of America&rsquos Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association.
Click on the video links below to learn more about the history of the Church Street Marketplace
Burlington is located in western Skagit County, just north of the county seat of Mount Vernon. The community was first established in 1882 as a logging camp, developed into a small town during the early 1890s, and incorporated in 1902. Agriculture has always been one of the biggest industries in the city, though extensive commercial development along Burlington Boulevard between the late 1980s and late 2000s changed this to some extent. The city had an estimated 8,783 residents in 2017, and in 2019, Burlington remained a pleasant, small community, one that was proud of its small-town appeal.
During the autumn months of 1882 two loggers, John P. Millett and William McKay, built a shack and set up a logging camp in a cedar and spruce forest a mile or two north of the Skagit River just north of the community of Mount Vernon. It was the birthplace of Burlington, but even as the camp grew during the 1880s, a town on the site would have been hard to foresee. An account from 1887 describes it as "many rudely constructed bunkhouses of cedar shake . clustered around a large long building known as the cook-house" ("Early History of Burlington, Washington").
The scene changed, and fast, in 1890. Development was beginning to transform the western part of Skagit County -- which was a mere seven years old in 1890 -- from wild, untamed woods into small communities and quiet farms. This transformation accelerated in 1890 when two railroads, the Great Northern Railway and the Seattle & Northern Railway, built lines through western Skagit County. The Great Northern line ran north and south while the Seattle & Northern line ran east and west, and the tracks crossed in Burlington, spawning an early nickname for the community, "the Hub City." Burlington itself was named by area settler T. W. Soule after his native Burlington, Vermont.
William McKay filed the plat for Burlington on January 1, 1891. The city's original downtown was at Anacortes and Orange avenues, and to underscore their importance, they were the only planked streets in town. This didn't last long. The railway tracks of the Great Northern and the Seattle & Northern intersected about a quarter mile northwest of the original townsite, and almost immediately the town's business center shifted in that direction, to an area encompassing Fairhaven Avenue and Spruce Street. Meanwhile, the little town quickly grew. A Methodist Church was built in 1891, and a post office and grade school opened that year. T. G. (Tom) Wilson was the city's first postmaster, while Clara Garl was its first teacher. The town's first saloon also opened about this time. Finally, to further cement Burlington's transformation from logging camp to town, its first fraternal organization, the ubiquitous Independent Order of Odd Fellows, built a hall on Anacortes Avenue in 1892.
It was also in 1892 that Burlington had its first recorded flood, though it would hardly be the last. The city is located on a flood plain, and the Skagit River makes up the city's southern and southeastern boundaries. Flooding from winter rains has always been a threat in Burlington, especially in its southern section. Some of the worst floods in the city's history occurred in 1909, 1917, 1921, 1990, and 1995. Dikes set up throughout Skagit County to try to control the problem have in some years exacerbated it instead by trapping the floodwaters in place.
By 1892, Burlington had become sure enough of itself that the locals submitted a petition to the county's male voters to move the county seat from Mount Vernon to Burlington. It lost, and another attempt in 1909 similarly failed. To add insult to injury, an 1896 attempt to incorporate Burlington also failed. A second attempt several years later was successful, and Burlington was officially incorporated as a town of the fourth class on June 16, 1902.
Coming into its own
Burlington rapidly grew from a town just barely large enough in 1902 to have the required population of 300 to incorporate to a town of 1,302 just eight years later. A vivid description of Burlington from 1906 concedes that while "no municipal works have as yet been undertaken" (An Illustrated History . 231), progress was nonetheless proceeding apace, with preparations being made to macadamize (a primitive early method of paving, using crushed stone) some of the main streets in the town. The 1906 account says that Burlington had three shingle mills, three hotels, two lodging houses, various general stores, a bicycle shop, a drug store, a new bank, even a practicing attorney. A local newspaper, The Journal, was seven years old in 1906, while the town's commodious opera hall, opened in 1905, was a source of considerable pride for local residents.
This expansion continued in the 1910s. In 1911, a library reading room was established in the little town. These were precursors to actual libraries and were not uncommon in small towns in the early 20th century. Books were typically provided by the state circulating library and by local residents, and though selections were usually limited, it nonetheless represented an opportunity that most rural residents had never seen. In 1916, Burlington built a Carnegie library (so called because it was built with funds donated by the well-known businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie), which served as the city's library until 1979. The library has since moved twice, and in 2019 was operating in a modern, spacious 22,000-square-foot structure. The Carnegie library building, located at 901 East Fairhaven, was subsequently placed on the National Register of Historic Places and has served the city in several different capacities since.
The Bellingham and Skagit Interurban Railway arrived in Burlington in 1912. This was an electric trolley line operating between Mount Vernon and Bellingham, running part of the way along the scenic Samish and Bellingham bays. (The route included a four-mile overwater trestle just off the Samish Bay shoreline, which gave the interurban the nickname "The Trolley That Went to Sea.") A second line extended five miles east from Burlington to Sedro-Woolley. The trolley was built to better connect the more rural parts of Whatcom and Skagit counties to each other, and for the first 10 years or so of its existence it did exactly that. However, better roads and improvements in automobile and bus technology in the 1920s made the trolley obsolete by late in the decade. Difficulties in maintaining the tracks and trestles helped seal the line's fate. Passenger service ended in 1928, and freight service two years later. A part of the route survives today in southern Whatcom County as a walking and biking trail, aptly named the Interurban Trail.
Further improvements in transportation benefitted Burlington during the 1930s. The Bayview Airport (today known as the Skagit Regional Airport), located about three miles west of Burlington, opened in 1933 with a single runway. More area roads were paved, and a new highway opened between Burlington and Bellingham in 1936. Though scenic Chuckanut Drive between the two cities had been open for 20 years by 1936, it was limited in the amount and type of traffic it could handle and it was also subject to episodic closures from rockslides. The new route, part of U.S. Highway 99 but known locally in its early years as the Lake Samish Highway, proved to be a considerable improvement. This was particularly true for local farmers, who needed a dependable, sturdy road to haul their crops north to Bellingham.
Festivals and the Burlington Hill cross
Agriculture has always been one of Skagit County's (and Burlington's) main industries, and this industry grew considerably during the 1920s and 1930s. Oats, hay, and peas were early mainstays, but during the 1920s seed crops came into vogue. Initially spinach, mustard, beet, and cabbage seeds were grown, but cabbage seed soon became the dominant seed crop. Another crop, hardly unique to Burlington or Skagit County but an important crop nonetheless, was in full bloom by the 1930s: strawberries.
Strawberry farms were common throughout the state and throughout much of the United States in the 1930s. Many communities had strawberry festivals, and Burlington joined them in 1934 with the advent of its annual Strawberry Festival, usually held in June. The festival provided a terrific opportunity for local farmers to ply their wares, and simply for people to get together. In an era in which opportunities to socialize were scarcer than they were nearly a century later, the importance of these local festivals to the community and the excitement that they generated can't be overstated. "The world's biggest shortcake parade" was the featured event in 1938 (80 sheets of shortcake were prepared for it), and in 1939, more than 6,000 people chowed down on the "world's biggest ice cream sundae," made from 200 gallons of ice cream and a half a ton of strawberries. The festival was later renamed Berry Dairy Days, and is still held each June.
Burlington's population remained stable between 1910 and 1940, drifting up slowly from 1,302 to 1,632, but more people began moving to the city after 1940. By 1980 its population had more than doubled, to 3,894, and the city had added more essential services. A new hospital (located east of Burlington on Highway 20) opened in 1960, and the city's Chamber of Commerce incorporated a year later. The Port of Skagit was formed in 1964 and became sole owner of the Skagit Regional Airport in 1975. In the late 1970s the Port built a small terminal and office building on the site and improved access roads there, which later aided additional development near the airport. The Port maintains its offices at the airport today. The airport remains a smaller airport, used mainly for charter flights, though it has grown to include two runways.
During the 1940s a cross was mounted by the local fire department on top of Burlington Hill, a small but prominent 450-foot hill located in the northern part of the city. On special occasions such as Christmas or Easter the city would light it at night, making it easily visible to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. One resident, 4-year-old Marc Beaton, was especially fond of the cross. After he died in a tragic accident in 1964, his mother wrote an area newspaper explaining how much her son had enjoyed the cross and asking if it could be improved. The community came together and raised donations for a new and larger cross, which has graced the top of Burlington Hill since 1965. Known simply as the Burlington Hill cross, it has become an important symbol for city citizens, who will contact the city occasionally to ask that it be lit in memory of a loved one, or sometimes to celebrate a happier event. Maintenance and electric costs for the cross are covered by donations.
Boomtown and slowdown
These changes were dwarfed by what came to Burlington beginning in the 1980s. In 1986 the county approved the Port of Skagit's development plans for the 325-acre Bayview Business Park, located next to the Skagit Regional Airport. By the early 1990s several large employers had offices at the site, including Tri-County Truss, which was still there nearly 30 years later as a part of a larger entity, The Truss Company. But the business park wasn't all business -- other amenities there in 2019 included a brewery and the Washington State University Skagit County Extension (WSU).
The true catalyst for Burlington's commercial development came in November 1989 when the 450,000-square-foot, $30 million Cascade Mall opened on 80 acres in the western part of the city. The mall kicked off widespread commercial development along South Burlington Boulevard and the adjacent area. One of the more notable projects that followed included the smaller Cross Court Plaza, which opened in 1993 just north of the Cascade Mall. A Fred Meyer store followed across the street soon after. This development continued into the new millennium, and expanded to total more than 5.3 million square feet of commercial space by 2009.
By 2009 the financial crisis known as the Great Recession had been underway for more than a year, trimming sales at Cascade Mall and other stores and outlets. Though the economy recovered in the early 2010s, this recovery did not come in equal strength to Burlington's commercial district. Cascade Mall was particularly hard hit, the same victim of declining mall sales worldwide as online shopping became mainstream in the 2010s. A 2016 shooting at the mall did not help, though a subsequent investigation found that by the time of the shooting, Cascade Mall already had more vacant stores and lower sales per square foot than the average American mall.
Shortly before 7 p.m. on September 23, 2016, 20-year-old Arcan Cetin walked into the women's department of the Macy's department store. Armed with a Ruger 10/22 rifle, he fatally shot five shoppers: 16-year-old Sarai Lara, who had survived an earlier bout with cancer, Wilton (Chuck) Eagan, Shayla Martin, Belinda Galde, and Galde's 95-year-old mother, Beatrice Dotson. Cetin was captured the next day and committed suicide in April 2017 while in jail awaiting trial. Though mass shootings -- including mall shootings -- had become far more common by 2016 than in earlier years, Burlington was rocked by the tragedy. Remarked its mayor, Steve Sexton, "The city of Burlington is probably changed forever, but I don't think our way of life needs to change in our community" ("Cascade Mall shooting . ").
Traffic at Cascade Mall continued to decline after 2016, but the city itself fared considerably better. Aided by jobs created by its rapid commercial development, Burlington's population nearly doubled, from 4,349 to 8,388, between 1990 and 2010, and the city was still growing, with an estimated 8,783 residents in 2017. Twenty-seven percent of these residents were identified as Hispanic or Latino, double the overall statewide ratio and an indication of those who still do much of the work at local farms.
Local Grains Garner Attention
Burlington by 2019 had gained national recognition for a very local enterprise -- growing specialty grains for nearby breweries and bakeries. The idea of a grain terroir -- characteristic flavors produced by specific environmental conditions analogous to that of regional wine grapes or coffees -- was part of the newer iterations of artisan food production. Skagit Valley potato and flower bulb farmers for generations have grown grains as part of the crop rotations for their main moneymakers. If sold at all, these grains were mixed in the mass grain production from Eastern Washington. Skagit farmers instead found ways to market these supplemental harvests at a premium as a regional specialty. "There is a marked difference in how this stuff tastes," said Scott Mangold, owner of the Breadfarm bakery in nearby Edison, about the locally grown wheat. "It's sweeter and richer, with layers of flavor. It's got this earthiness" (Bay).
As of 2019, Skagit Valley Malting in Burlington was supplying dozens of regional craft breweries with barley grown nearby and malted on site, while Cairnspring Mills was grinding premium baking flour from a variety of local grains. King Arthur Flour of Vermont crossed the continent to open its second Baking School at the WSU Extension in Burlington, where professional and home bakers experiment with local grains and classic techniques. An annual Grain Gathering, sponsored by WSU and the Port of Skagit, brings researchers, farmers, and grain-based businesses together for workshops, speakers, and networking.
Vermont was covered with shallow seas periodically from the Cambrian to Devonian periods. Most of the sedimentary rocks laid down in these seas were deformed by mountain-building. Fossils, however, are common in the Lake Champlain region. Lower areas of western Vermont were flooded again, as part of the St. Lawrence Valley and Champlain Valley by Lake Vermont whose northern boundary followed the melting glacier at the end of the last ice age, until it reached the ocean. This was replaced by Lake Vermont and the Champlain Sea, when the land had not yet rebounded from the weight of the glaciers which were sometimes 2 miles (3.2 km) thick. Shells of salt-water mollusks, along with the bones of beluga whales, have been found in the Lake Champlain region. 
Lake Vermont connected to a glacial western lake near what is now the Great Lakes. They allowed western fish to enter the state, which is why Vermont has more native species than any other New England State, 78. About half of these are western in origin. 
Little is known of the pre-Columbian history of Vermont. Between 8500 and 7000 BC, glacial activity created the saltwater Champlain Sea. This event caused lamprey, Atlantic salmon, and rainbow smelt to become landlocked. 
Native Americans inhabited and hunted in Vermont. From 7000 to 1000 BC was the Archaic Period. During that era, Native Americans migrated year-round. From 1000 BC to 1600 AD was the Woodland Period, when villages and trade networks were established, and ceramic and bow and arrow technology were developed. The western part of the state became home to a small population of Algonquian-speaking tribes, including the Mohican and Abenaki peoples. [ citation needed ]
The Sokoki lived in what is now southern Vermont the Cowasucks in northeastern Vermont.
Between 1534 and 1609, the Iroquois Mohawks drove many of the smaller native tribes out of the Champlain Valley, later using the area as a hunting ground and warring with the remaining Abenaki. 
French exploration and settlement Edit
French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed the area of what is now Lake Champlain, giving the name, Verd Mont (Green Mountain) to the region he found, on a 1647 map.  Evidence suggests that this name came into use among English settlers, before it morphed to "Vermont", ca. 1760. 
To aid and impress his new Abenaki allies, Champlain shot and killed an Iroquois chief with an arquebus, July 29, 1609. While the Iroquois were already enemies with the Abenaki, they formed a permanent enmity with the French with this incident, ultimately costing the French the bulk of their most developed possessions in the New World, including the contested area of most of Vermont, at the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763. [ citation needed ]
France claimed Vermont as part of New France, and erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in 1666 as part of their fortification of Lake Champlain. This was the first European settlement in Vermont and the site of the first Roman Catholic mass.
During the latter half of the 17th century, non-French settlers began to explore Vermont and its surrounding area. In 1690, a group of Dutch-British settlers from Albany under Captain Jacobus de Warm established the De Warm Stockade at Chimney Point (eight miles west of Addison). This settlement and trading post were directly across the lake from Crown Point, New York (Pointe à la Chevelure). [ clarification needed ]
There were regular periods of skirmishing between English colonies to the south and the French colony to the north, and the area of Vermont was an unsettled frontier. In 1704, De Rouville passed up the Winooski (Onion) River, to reach the Connecticut, and then down to Deerfield, Massachusetts, which he raided. 
British settlement Edit
During Father Rale's War, the first permanent British settlement was established in 1724 with the construction of Fort Dummer in Vermont's far southeast under the command of Lieutenant Timothy Dwight of Connecticut. This fort protected the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro in the surrounding area. These settlements were made by people from Massachusetts and Connecticut. The second British settlement at Bennington in the southwest corner of Vermont would not be made until after 37 years of conflict in the region. [ citation needed ]
In 1725, 60 armed men entered Vermont with rough maps, with the goal of attacking the Village of St. Francis, but turned back at Crown Point. 
In 1731, the French arrived at Chimney Point, near Addison. Here they constructed a small temporary wooden stockade (Fort de Pieux) until work on Fort St. Frédéric began in 1734. When this fort was completed, Fort de Pieux was abandoned as unneeded. [ citation needed ]
There was another period of conflict from 1740 to 1748, the War of the Austrian Succession or King George's War. There were raids at a private defensive work, Bridgeman's Fort, in Vernon, Vermont. 
During the French and Indian War, 1755–1761, some Vermont settlers joined the colonial militia assisting the British in attacks on the French at Fort Carillon. [ citation needed ]
Rogers' Rangers staged an attack against the Abenaki village of Saint-Francis, Quebec from Lake Champlain in 1759. Separating afterwards, they fled the angered French and Abenakis through northern Vermont back to safety in Lake Champlain and New Hampshire. 
Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave control of the whole region to the British. Colonial settlement was limited by the British to lands east of the Appalachians, and Vermont was divided nearly in half in a jagged line running from Fort William Henry on Lake George diagonally north-eastward to Lake Memphremagog. Lands north of this line, including the entire Champlain Valley, were reserved for Indians. [ citation needed ] During this time French families were largely driven out, although scholars of the Vermont Archaeological Society have questioned if a French influence was removed completely, noting some remote farms may have eluded the notice of the British colonists. 
The end of the war brought new settlers to Vermont. The first settler of the grants was Samuel Robinson, who began clearing land in Bennington in 1761. 
In the 28 years from 1763 to 1791, the non-Indian population of Vermont rose from 300 to 85,000. 
A fort at Crown Point had been built in 1759, and the Crown Point Military Road stretched across the Green Mountains from Springfield to Chimney Point, making traveling from the neighboring British colonies easier than ever before. Three colonies laid claim to the area. The Province of Massachusetts Bay claimed the land on the basis of the 1629 charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Province of New York claimed Vermont based on land granted to the Duke of York (later King James II & VII) in 1664. The Province of New Hampshire, whose western limits had never been determined, also claimed Vermont, in part based upon a decree of George II in 1740. On March 5, 1740, George II ruled that Massachusetts's northern boundary in this area would be from a point near the Merrimack River due west (its present location). The boundary was surveyed by Richard Hasen in 1741, and Fort Dummer (Brattleboro), was found to be north of the line. Provisions and support for Fort Dummer were ordered by the Colonial Office from New Hampshire in the following years. 
New Hampshire's immensely popular governor, Benning Wentworth, issued a series of 135 land grants between 1749 and 1764 called the New Hampshire Grants. Many of these were in a large valley on the west (or New York side) of the Green Mountains and only about forty miles from Albany. The town was laid out in 1749 and was settled after the war in 1761. The town was named Bennington for Wentworth. The location of the town was well north of the Massachusetts limit set by decree in 1740, and east of the known eastern limit of New York, twenty miles east of the Hudson River. Ultimately, by 1754, Wentworth had granted lands for 15 towns. 
On July 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45 degrees north latitude. Under this decree, Albany County, New York, as it then existed, implicitly gained the land presently known as Vermont. Although disputes occasionally broke out later, this line became the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont, and is the modern boundary. When New York refused to recognize land titles through the New Hampshire Grants (towns created earlier by New Hampshire in present Vermont), dissatisfied colonists organized in opposition, which led to the creation of independent Vermont on January 15, 1777.  
New York took the declaration of 1764 to apply retroactively, and considered the New Hampshire grants invalid. It therefore required land holders to purchase new grants for the same land from New York. New York then created counties in the region, with courthouses, sheriffs, and jails, and began judicial proceedings against those who held land solely by New Hampshire grants. 
In 1767, the Privy Council forbade New York from selling land in Vermont that was in conflict with grants from New Hampshire, reversing the 1764 decision. 
In 1770, Ethan Allen—along with his brothers Ira and Levi, as well as Seth Warner—recruited an informal militia, the Green Mountain Boys, to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against the new migrants from New York. A significant standoff occurred at the Breakenridge farm in Bennington, when a sheriff from Albany arrived with a posse of 750 men to dispossess Breakenridge. The residents raised a body of about 300 armed men to resist. The Albany sheriff demanded Breakenridge, and was informed, "If you attempt it, you are a dead man." The sheriff returned to Albany. 
When a New York judge arrived in Westminster with New York settlers in March 1775, violence broke out as angry citizens took over the courthouse and called a sheriff's posse. This resulted in the deaths of Daniel Houghton and William French in the "Westminster Massacre".
In the summer of 1776, the first general convention of freemen of the New Hampshire Grants met in Dorset, Vermont, resolving "to take suitable measures to declare the New Hampshire Grants a free and independent district."  On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants convened in Westminster and declared their land an independent republic, the Vermont Republic. For the first six months of the republic's existence, the state was called New Connecticut.
On June 2, a second convention of 72 delegates met at Westminster, known as the "Westminster Convention". At this meeting, the delegates adopted the name "Vermont" on the suggestion of Dr. Thomas Young of Philadelphia, a supporter of the delegates who wrote a letter advising them on how to achieve statehood. The delegates set the time for a meeting one month later. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted during a violent thunderstorm at the Windsor Tavern owned by Elijah West. It was adopted by the delegates on July 8 after four days of debate. This was the first written constitution in North America to provide for the abolition of slavery (for adults), suffrage for men who did not own land, and public schools. (See also History of slavery in Vermont.) The tavern has been preserved as the Old Constitution House, administered as a state historic site. Violations of the abolition of slavery persisted for some time. 
The production of potash in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, resulted in the deforestation of much of Vermont. 
Slavery in Vermont Edit
The population of enslaved Americans in Vermont was calculated to be 25 in 1770 according to the United States Census Bureau's Bicentennial Edition Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970   and was recorded at 16 in 1790 according to a contemporary study Return of the Whole Number of Persons Within the Several Districts of the United States.   The overall population of Vermont was lower than the average of the individual Thirteen Colonies.
The battles of Bennington and Saratoga are recognized as the turning point in the American Revolutionary War. They were the first major defeat of a British army and convinced France that the American rebels were worthy of military aid. General John Stark, who commanded the rebel forces at the Battle of Bennington, became widely known as the "Hero of Bennington". "Bennington Battle Day" (August 16, the anniversary of the battle) is a legal holiday in Vermont.  Under the portico of the Vermont Statehouse, next to a granite statue of Ethan Allen, there is a brass cannon that was captured at Bennington. 
The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, was a seminal event in the history of the state of Vermont. The nascent republican government, created after years of political turmoil, faced challenges from New York, New Hampshire, Great Britain and the new United States, none of which recognized its sovereignty. [ citation needed ]
During the summer of 1777, the invading British army of General John Burgoyne slashed its way southward through the thick forest, from Quebec to the Hudson River, captured the strategic stronghold of Fort Ticonderoga, and drove the Continental Army into a desperate southward retreat. Raiding parties of British soldiers and native warriors freely attacked, pillaged and burned the frontier communities of the Champlain Valley and threatened all settlements to the south. The Vermont frontier collapsed in the face of the British invasion. The New Hampshire legislature, fearing an invasion from the west, mobilized the state's militia under the command of General John Stark. [ citation needed ]
General Burgoyne received intelligence that large stores of horses, food and munitions were kept at Bennington, which was the largest community in the land grant area. He dispatched 2,600 men, nearly a third of his army, to seize the colonial storehouse there, unaware that General Stark's New Hampshire troops were then traversing the Green Mountains to join up at Bennington with the Vermont continental regiments commanded by Colonel Seth Warner, together with the local Vermont and western Massachusetts militia. The combined American forces, under Stark's command, attacked the British column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. General Stark reportedly challenged his men to fight to the death, telling them that: "There are your enemies, the redcoats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!" In a desperate, all-day battle fought in intense summer heat, the army of Yankee farmers defeated the British, killing or capturing 900 men. Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered at Saratoga on October 17. [ citation needed ]
In 1778, David Redding, convicted of being a traitor to the colonies and a spy for the British, was hanged in Bennington. 
The first printing press in the state was established in Dresden in 1779. 
The Republic of Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the southeastern town of Windsor for 14 years. Thomas Chittenden acted as chief magistrate of Vermont from 1778 to 1789 and from 1790 to 1791. In the 1780s Chittenden, the Allen brothers, and other political leaders engaged in negotiations with Frederick Haldimand, the British governor of Quebec over the possibility of Vermont becoming a British province. These negotiations ultimately failed in part due to the timely surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781. 
The first General Assembly voted to establish two counties, Bennington in the west and Unity in the east. It adopted the common law of England as the basis for its legal system. It voted to confiscate Tory lands and sell them to finance the militia. This was the first "tax" passed in the state. 
The first newspaper was published in the state in 1781, the weekly Vermont Gazette. 
In 1784, the state established a postal service linking several towns and Albany, New York. 
In 1786, the Vermont governor replied to requests from Massachusetts about the Shays' Rebellion, saying that he was willing to extradite members of the rebellion, though his response was "pro forma" only since the state could ill afford to discourage immigration. 
In 1791, Vermont joined the federal Union as the fourteenth state—becoming the first state to enter the Union after the original thirteen colonies, and as a counterweight to slaveholding Kentucky, which was admitted to the Union the following year.  
In June 1791, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison toured the state. 
Because of the proximity of Canada, Vermonters were somewhat alarmed during the War of 1812. Five thousand troops were stationed in Burlington at one point, outnumbering residents.  Contemporary reports indicate that almost 1,300 soldiers were treated for various ailments over 100 died between May 1814 and April 1815.  An expeditionary force of Quebec Eastern Townships' volunteers destroyed a barracks built at Derby with no personnel casualties.  The war, fought over what seemed like obscure maritime considerations to landlocked Vermont, was not popular.
In July 1830, the state experienced what turned out to be the worst flood of the 19th century. It was called the "Torrent of 1830." 
Merino sheep were introduced in 1812. This ultimately resulted in a boom-bust cycle for wool. Wool reached a price of 57 cents/pound in 1835. By 1837, there were 1,000,000 sheep in the state. The price of wool dropped to 25 cents/pound in the late 1840s. The state could not withstand more efficient competition from western states, and sheep raising collapsed. 
Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836.
In June 1843, escaped slaves hid at a Shaftsbury farm, in the first recorded instance in Vermont of the Underground Railroad. 
In 1846, the ground was broken for the construction of the first railroad in Vermont, Central Vermont Railway, in Northfield. 
In 1853, Vermont passed a strict law prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Some towns followed the law, while others ignored it. 
An 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery echoed the Vermont Constitution's first article, on the rights of all men, questioning how a government could favor the rights of one people over another. The report fueled growth of the abolition movement in the state, and in response, a resolution from the Georgia General Assembly authorized the towing of Vermont out to sea.  The mid to late 1850s saw a transition from Vermonters mostly favoring slavery's containment, to a far more serious opposition to the institution. As the Whig party shriveled, Vermont changed its allegiance to the emergent Republican Party. In 1860, it voted for President Abraham Lincoln, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.
French-Canadian immigration began in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Already, in the 1810s, Burlington had a French-Canadian population of approximately 100.  Those numbers began to rise rapidly in the 1820s and 1830s as Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) navigated economic and political crises. Immigration continued to the end of the century and resumed in the late 1910s and 1920s it is the continued arrival of French Canadians and Irish that kept Vermont's population from dropping in the second half of the nineteenth century. French Canadians found employment in agriculture, in the factories of Burlington and Winooski, in the quarries of Rutland and Barre, in the rail yards of St. Johnsbury and St. Albans, and in other sectors. At times they clashed with the Irish over the control of Catholic Church resources and with various groups in labor disputes. The nativism with which they contended was often less overt than in other states.    
More than 28,100 Vermonters served in Vermont volunteer units. Vermont fielded 17 infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, three light artillery batteries, one heavy artillery company, three companies of sharpshooters, and two companies of frontier cavalry. Instead of replacing units as they were depleted, Vermont regularly provided recruits to bring the units in the field back up to normal strength. Many of the soldiers had never been out of their own county, much less the state. In the South, they felt like they were on another planet. 
In 1863, there was rioting in West Rutland after the state instituted a draft. 
Nearly 5,000 Vermonters served in other states' units, in the United States Army or the United States Navy. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry (Colored) included 66 Vermont blacks a total of 166 black Vermonters served out of a population of 709 in the state. Vermonters, if not Vermont units, participated in every major battle of the war.
Vermonters lost a total of 1,832 men killed or mortally wounded in battle another 3,362 died of disease, in prison or from other causes, for a total loss of 5,194. More than 2,200 Vermonters were taken prisoner during the war, and 615 of them died in, or as a result of, their imprisonment. Among the most famous of the Vermont units were the 1st Vermont Brigade, the 2nd Vermont Brigade, and the 1st Vermont Cavalry.
A large proportion of Vermont's state and national-level politicians for several decades after the Civil War were veterans.
The northernmost land action of the war, the St. Albans Raid, took place in Vermont.
During the two decades following the end of the American Civil War (1864–1885) there was both economic expansion and contraction, and fairly dramatic social change.
Union veterans banded together into patriotic and fraternal organizations, mostly in the Grand Army of the Republic. There were 116 posts at one time. 
Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts began staffing up. Recruiters were sent out all over New England, including Vermont. Initially they found ample workers from new widows, single parent heads of family.  This demand was filled by August 1865, and recruiting Americans from Lowell ceased abruptly.
By 1860, the state was a leading producer of hops in the nation with 640,000 pounds (290,000 kg), second to New York. This crop conveniently arrived as a replacement for the disappearance of the Merino sheep trade. Hops, too, disappeared. A number of factors were involved: plant disease in 1909,  migration of planting to California from 1853–1910, where growing was performed more efficiently, and Prohibition both at the state and national level. 
Vermont's system of railroads expanded and was linked to national systems, agricultural output and export soared and incomes increased. But Vermont also felt the effects of recessions and financial panics, particularly the Panic of 1873 which resulted in a substantial exodus of young Vermonters. The transition in thinking about the rights of citizens, first brought to a head by the 1854 Vermont Senate report on slavery, and later Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in changing how citizens perceived civil rights, fueled agitation for women's suffrage. The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were first allowed to vote in town elections, and then in state legislative races.
Starting around 1870, a number of Vermont towns dressed satirically for Independence Day in an Ancient and Horribles Parade. The intent was to deride politicians and other well-known figures. This largely died out by 1900. 
In 1902, Vermonters approved a law for local option on the sale of alcoholic beverages, countermanding the prior law of 1853 which banned them entirely. That year 94 towns approved the sale of alcoholic beverages locally. The number of approving towns fell each year until there were only 18 in 1917, shortly before national prohibition became law. 
In the 1920s, Ku Klux Klan membership reached 80,300 in the state. The main target of their hatred were the French-Canadian Catholic immigrants.   A eugenics project apparently targeted Indians, Indian-French Canadians, and Afro-Americans in the state for forced sterilization between 1931 and 1936.  
In 1923, the state passed a law limiting the regular workweek of women and children to 58 hours. 
Beaver populations were re-introduced to Vermont in 1924 and continue to thrive there today. 
Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 85 people died, 84 of them in Vermont.
The US Supreme Court decided that New Hampshire's boundary included most of the Connecticut River, establishing Vermont's eastern boundary in Vermont v. New Hampshire – 290 US 579 (1934). 
Prior to 1935, 5.5 million sugar maples were tapped for syrup. Less expansive softwood was used to boil the sap to condense it to maple syrup.  The 1938 New England hurricane in the fall of that year blew down 15,000,000 acres (61,000 km 2 ) of trees, one-third of the total forest at the time in New England. Three billion board feet were salvaged. Today many of the older trees in Vermont are about 75 years old, dating from after this storm.  By 2017, the old record number of maples tapped for sugar had not been reached there were over 2 million trees tapped. However, more syrup was produced using more efficient and less labor-intensive methods. 
Hydropower supplied 90% of the state's power needs in 1940. 
In September 1941, it looked like America would be involved in the World War which had started in 1939 in Europe. Seizing on a declaration by the U.S. President, the legislature authorized wartime-like payments to citizens involved with the military. This led to facetious headlines that Vermont had declared war on Germany. 
About 6,000 Vermonters were in the military during World War II.  About 874 of these died. 
94 Vermonters died fighting the Korean War. 
Widespread use of DDT to exterminate insect pests after the war led to the reduction of various wildlife, noticeably birds and larger wildlife, such as moose and bear.  The pesticide was banned in 1972 eventually leading to the restoration of many birds and larger mammals. For example, the bear population doubled from the 1980s to 6,000 in 2013. 
In 1964, the US Supreme Court forced "one-man, one-vote" redistricting on Vermont, giving cities an equitable share of votes in both houses for the entire country.  Until that time, rural counties were often represented equally by area in state senates and were often unsympathetic to urban problems requiring increased taxes.
In 1965, the Northeast Blackout of 1965, the worst blackout until then, left Vermont without electricity for about 12 hours.
In 1968, the state took over welfare support for the indigent.  This had formerly been the responsibility of the towns, under the Overseer of the Poor. This had been a nearly insupportable burden for many small towns. The last poor farm was closed. 
A flood occurred in 1973, when the flood caused the death of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.
In 1984, the state had 2,500 square miles (6,500 km 2 ) in farmland. This declined to 1,900 square miles (4,900 km 2 ) in 2013. 
On April 25, 2000, as a result of the Vermont Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont General Assembly passed and Governor Howard Dean signed into law H.0847, which provided the state-sanctioned benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples in the form of civil unions. Controversy over the civil unions bill was a central issue in the subsequent 2000 elections.
In 2001 Vermont produced 275,000 US gallons (1,040,000 L) of maple syrup, about 25% of U.S. production. For 2005 that number was 410,000 US gallons (1,600,000 l 340,000 imp gal) accounting for 37% of national production. 
In 2007, with three-quarters of the state opposing the Iraq War, the state nevertheless had the highest rate of war-related deaths in the nation. This was due to volunteers and participation by the Vermont National Guard. 
During the late-2000s recession, state median household income dropped furthest, or second furthest, depending on how it is computed, of any state in the nation from −3.2% or −10%, depending on whether a two-year or three-year moving average was used. 
In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused widespread flooding, particularly in the southern part of the state, closing at least 260 roads.  Federal assistance for recovery included $110 million for emergency relief and assistance, $102 million for federal highway repair, and $23 million for individual assistance within the state. 
In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity rated Vermont last out of the 50 states for state government accountability and integrity. This was the result of the revelation of a continuing number of municipal scandals including the $1.6 million Hardwick Electric embezzlement. 
Vermont is more heavily forested in 2017 than it was during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A new way of producing potash was found not requiring the intensive destruction of trees. 
Early period (1791–1860) Edit
Though some members of the Federalist Party found electoral success, in its early years of statehood Vermont generally preferred the Jeffersonian Party, which became the Democratic Party in the early 1820s. Vermont stopped voting Democratic in the 1830s, initially over a fear of Jacksonian return to political parties  later, perhaps, over increasing opposition to the spread of slavery. The state voted Anti-Jackson, Anti-Masonic, Whig, and then Republican Party.
The Vermont legislature chose presidential electors through the general election of 1824. Vermont citizens first started voting directly for presidential electors in 1828.
Upward mobility for politicians (1830–1916) Edit
In the 1830s Vermont was one of the strongholds of Anti-Masonry. While the party elected only one governor, William A. Palmer, it was able to prevent the other major parties from winning majorities in some statewide races, which meant that the Vermont General Assembly chose the winner.
From the founding of the Republican party in the mid-1850s until the 1958 election of William H. Meyer to the United States House of Representatives, Vermont elected only Republicans to statewide office. 
Politicians aspiring to statewide office in Vermont normally had to be nominated at a state convention or "caucus." Factions dominated these caucuses. Some of these were family. A look at the list of Governors, Senators and Representatives over time shows the Chittendens, Fairbanks, Proctors, and Smiths.  Nomination was tantamount to election. The state legislature chose US senators until 1913. Up to six seats in the US House of Representatives gave ambitious politicians an ample stage for their talent.
Until 1870, all state officials were elected for one-year terms. In 1870, the term was changed to two-years.  Governors then normally served just one term of two years.
The Green Mountains effectively split Vermont in two. Culturally the eastern Vermonters were often descended from immigrants from New Hampshire. Western Vermonters often had their roots in New York. Recognizing this as a source of potential problems, politicians began following an unwritten "mountain rule", rotating the Lieutenant Governor and Governor residing in opposite sides of the state. 
The first election in which women were allowed to vote was on December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage and were allowed to vote in school board elections.
Statewide primaries (1916–1946) Edit
General annoyance with this system of selecting leadership by a few people, led to statewide primaries in 1916.  Down to only one congressional seat to compete for, Governors started trying to serve two terms, beginning with Governor Weeks in 1927. This worked until World War II.
Senator Ernest Gibson, a Republican, died in 1940. Governor George Aiken, also a Republican, and a liberal ally of the Gibsons appointed the late Senator's son, Ernest W. Gibson Jr. to fill the seat until a special election for the remainder of the term. The younger Gibson did not run, enabling Aiken's election to the seat. Instead Gibson devoted himself to preparing the state for entry into World War II. He served in the South Pacific and emerged as a highly decorated Colonel. There was a tsunami in 1946 in American politics. Returning veterans were popular. Gibson ran an unprecedented campaign against the incumbent Governor, Mortimer R. Proctor, and ousted him in the primary.  Gibson won the general election, won reelection in 1948, and served until resigning in 1950 to accept appointment as Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.
Interregnum — Liberal Republicans prevail (1946–1962) Edit
The elder Gibson, a former member of the Progressive Party, was the first of the liberal Republicans. While conservatives like Harold Arthur and Lee E. Emerson were elected Governor, they seem, in retrospect, to be transitory figures.
The "normal" path to the governorship for Republicans, which Ernest Gibson Jr. explicitly campaigned against in 1946, was to serve in the Vermont House of Representatives and hold a leadership position such as Speaker of the House service in the Vermont State Senate and a leadership role such as President Pro Tem election to the Lieutenant Governor's office and election as Governor.
Successful Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate were also almost always veterans of leadership positions in the Vermont Legislature or statewide office.
In 1962, Philip Hoff was elected Governor, the first Democrat since before the Civil War.
Democratic dominance (1962–present) Edit
The demographics of the state had changed. In 1960, 25% of the population was born outside the state. Most of these immigrants were from Democratic states and brought their voting inclinations with them. Anticipating this change, the Republicans conducted a massive free-for-all in 1958, the last good chance many of them saw to capture a congressional seat.  They were wrong. Democrat William H. Meyer won, the first from his party in 102 years.
While the climate had changed, the legislature had not. With one representative per town and two senators per county, the rural areas dominated and set the agenda much to the frustration of urban areas, particularly Chittenden County. In 1964, the US Supreme Court forced "one-man, one-vote" redistricting on Vermont, giving cities an equitable share of votes in both houses. 
Unlike yesteryear, no party nominee can be assured of election. The unwritten "two term" rule has been jettisoned. Governors usually serve as long as they can, not being able to guarantee that their policies will be continued after they leave office. Vermonters have alternated parties in the Governor's office since 1962. Democratic governors have served longer. [ citation needed ]
Transportation around this mountainous state was a challenge to the original colonists. While this challenge has been met in the current era by turnpikes and limited rail service, public transportation for the majority of Vermonters has often remained elusive.
The state highway system was created in 1931. 
In 2008, the Vermont Transit Lines, a subsidiary of Greyhound Lines went out of business. It had begun operating in 1973.  Limited service continued under the direct aegis of Greyhound. This has been replaced by subsidized regional NGO corporations which provide limited service for most, but adequate service for those needing medical treatment.
In colonial times, like many of its neighboring states, Vermont's largest religious affiliation was Congregationalism. In 1776, 63% of affiliated church members in Vermont were Congregationalists. At that time, however, only 9% of people belonged to a specific church due to the remoteness of population centers. [ citation needed ]
Vermont Historical Society
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Floodlights danced above Burlington to herald the arrival of Vermont's newest and largest "entertainment palace" on Wednesday, November 26, 1930. The event marked the arrival of a state-of-the-art facility in which to enjoy both touring stars of vaudeville and motion pictures. The new entertainment complex&mdashbuilt at a cost of $500,000&mdashwas the brainchild of entrepreneur (and theater namesake) John J. Flynn and his investors in the Queen City Realty Company. A little over a decade later, the Flynn was firmly established, well-loved, and highly attended by the community. The Flynn was a major gathering place for the community during the war years, as Vermonters stayed current on the war effort through newsreels and sought respite from worries about loved ones fighting overseas through Golden Age Hollywood films.
But in the postwar years, American culture and entertainment was changing rapidly, hitting many theaters hard. By the &rsquo70s, the majesty of the Flynn had faded and the venue was derelict. Many larger theaters similar to the Flynn, no longer able to function economically, were either converted or demolished. Thanks to a visionary group of Burlington community leaders, the Flynn was saved from that fate. In 1972, the Flynn was acquired by Merrill Jarvis of the Merrill Theater Corporation, a longtime Vermont company that operates the Roxy and Ethan Allen cinema complexes in Burlington. Less than two years after Jarvis took over the Flynn, live performance returned to the theater for the first time in many years.
Around the same time, the Lyric Theatre Company was founded by a group of about 30 Burlington area residents interested in the production of live musical theater, predominantly classic Broadway fare. Lyric's debut production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was performed at the Flynn in 1974. Before long, Lyric Theatre Company would play a key role in the next era of the Flynn.
Led by Lyric Theatre, a non-profit corporation called the Flynn Theatre for the Performing Arts, Ltd. was formed in 1980. The group's first act was to forge a purchase agreement with Jarvis, including a $5,000 down payment. Meanwhile, Lyric was joined by volunteers in a community-wide fundraising effort coordinated by founding Executive Director Andrea Rogers, who retired in June 2010.
Restoration of the Art Deco theater began in 1981. In the midst of these efforts, the Flynn was recognized by the Art Deco Societies of America as one of the country&rsquos 10 most important Art Deco restoration projects. In its first five years, from 1982-1987, the Flynn hosted more than 350 performances presented by 50 different organizations, including longtime allies in the arts whose partnerships with the Flynn continue to this day: Lyric Theatre, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, and the UVM Lane Series. During this period, the Flynn set the foundation for what became a national reputation for presenting theater, jazz, and dance&mdashperformances virtually unheard of in a region with a relatively small population.
The Flynn underwent several more restoration phases in the ensuing years, including the successful completion of a 10-year strategic plan and two successive capital campaigns. In September 2000, the Flynn &ldquoreopened&rdquo as a comprehensive performing arts center. The Flynn incorporated two performance venues: the original theater, fully restored to its Art Deco splendor, and Flynn Space, a small performance setting that has significantly expanded the Flynn's programming options. Flynn Space has become the community's venue of choice for intimate live theater, performance art, jazz, acoustic music, comedy performance, and more. Patrons now enjoy an expanded performing arts center that includes beautiful education and dance studios housing year-round classes in music, theater, and dance for children, teens, and adults a greatly enlarged main theater lobby a visual arts gallery and additional administrative and support spaces.
The Flynn has been at the center of Vermont's cultural landscape for 90 years. 200,000 people annually attend performances on the Main Stage and in Flynn Space, and an average of 35,000 young people attend more than 30 performances in the Flynn Student Matinee Series each year. Thousands more people discover their creative selves in Flynn classes and summer camps offered year-round in the Flynn studios and diverse community settings. The Flynn also continues to nourish the creative spirit in international, national, and regional artists, hosting residencies, commissioning new work, and providing rehearsal and performance space for the development of new projects. We are recognized internationally for our artistic, educational, and community activities a place for anyone seeking the transformative power of the arts and live performance.
Burlington, Vermont - History
1830 marked an important turning point in the history of Burlington, Vermont. No longer just another Vermont village, Burlington had entered a period of brisk growth that would last for over a half century and transform it into Vermont's largest city. Set on a terraced ridge between Lake Champlain and the mighty natural falls of the Winooksi River, Burlington's location provided easy access to both international water-borne commerce and one of the most powerful mill sites in the region. With the 1823 opening of the Champlain Canal that provided a continuous water route from Lake Champlain to the Hudson River and New York City, Burlington's importance grew swiftly, and by 1830 it was becoming the leading center of commerce and industry on Lake Champlain and in Vermont. From the village's busy shipping and mercantile center clustered along the waterfront one could walk several blocks east to the civic and business center on the Church Street and continue east up the hill through the desirable residential area along Pearl Street to the University of Vermont at the crest of the ridge.
From the perspective of American architectural history, 1830 also marks a turning point in the transition from the Federal style that had dominated architectural design since the 1790s, to the new Greek Revival style that would flourish on through the 1840s.
It was in this context that the ambitious young architect, Ammi Burnham Young (1798-1874), arrived in booming Burlington in May of 1830. Perhaps drawn on commission or perhaps produced as a clever promotional piece, Young created a "Plan of the Village of Burlington, Vermont" that year. This map, published as a lithograph by "Pendleton, 157, Broadway" shows the locations and rough footprints of about 553 buildings. This is the oldest known street map of its type of Burlington. An original lithograph of the map is held by the University of Vermont Library Special Collections.
A native of Lebanon, New Hampshire, Young's career as an architect flourished soon after he arrived in Burlington as he produced such buildings in the Greek Revival style as the Vermont State House in Montpelier, 1833-37 Timothy Follett House in Burlington, 1840 Wheeler House in Burlington, 1842 and the Federal Customs House in Boston, Massachusetts, 1837-47. His reputation grew nationally as he served as the Supervising Architect for the U. S. Treasury Department from 1852-1860, where he was responsible for the designs of many customs houses and post offices constructed around the country. Vermont examples of these include post offices in Windsor and Rutland (later converted into a library). The portrait of Ammi B. Young shown at the left was painted by C. Rogers in 1846 and is in the collection of the Vermont Historical Society.
Like snapshots that freeze a moment of the ever-changing past, few archival documents provide such rich insights into the physical history of communities as do historic street maps. Indeed for researchers studying historic sites and changes in the built environment, this is one of the most important types of archival evidence available.
- What then can we learn from this street map about life in Burlington, Vermont, in 1830?
- How can this map help us rediscover some of the city's oldest surviving historic buildings?
With these two questions in mind, graduate students in UVM Professor Thomas Visser's Researching Historic Structures and Sites course launched a semester-long research project in the fall of the year 2000. Working in cooperation with library professor Jeffrey Marshall and the staff at the UVM Library's Special Collections, the team researched the entire area encompassed by Young's 1830 map. This area extends from the Lake Champlain waterfront east to the UVM Green and from North Street south to below Maple Street. Each student researched a section of the area, using historic maps and other primary historical evidence. They then surveyed downtown Burlington, street by street, building by building, documenting physical clues of architectural evidence that suggested pre-1830 construction dates. Through this research, each student compared the information shown on the 1830 Young map and other archival evidence with the physical evidence that survives on the streets today to develop lists of buildings sorted into the following categories:
- Those that substantially survive from 1830.
- Those that probably survive, at least in part from 1830.
- Those from 1830 for which nothing survives above ground. (Although archaeological evidence may still exist.)
The researchers then compared their findings with such secondary sources of historical information as National Register historic district nominations, the Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey, and books written about the history of Burlington and its neighborhoods. Follow-up research was then conducted using land record deeds and probate court records. The lists were again revised and the students mapped their findings. It should be noted that this study just covers the downtown portion of Burlington included in Ammi B. Young's map of Burlington Village. A few other pre-1830 buildings survive in other parts of the city of Burlington, including the Ethan Allen Homestead in the intervale and some near Winooski Falls.
To help correlate the 1830 map evidence with what stands in Burlington today, Professor Visser made high resolution scans of the original 1830 map at UVM Library's Special Collections. He also scanned 1988 aerial photos of the city. These images were then digitally transformed to approximately the same scale and superimposed then atop each other for the comparative overlay maps included in this site.
Although Young's hand-drawn map is generally accurate, he took minor artistic latitudes that become apparent when viewing the comparative overlay map. He renders proposed rights-of-way for some streets that were not built, for example, and some building locations are approximate. Although many of the street names shown by Young are still in use today, some have changed since 1830. These are listed in the street index included in this site.
Burlington, Vermont - History
Colchester Avenue east of East Avenue, Barrett and Mill Streets
Text and recent photographs by Jean Innamorati
Although not essentially part of the Old North End neighborhood of Burlington, the eastern section of Colchester Avenue and Mill and Barrett Streets are related to it by affinity. Building styles and the ethnic characteristics of residents during the late 1920s, 1930s and early 1940s are similar in both the North End and the more peripheral area of Colchester Avenue and its environs. As it extends from East Avenue toward the Winooski River, Colchester Avenue shifts from solid middle class to a more modest working class milieu as its structures gradually change from single family homes on average-size city lots to more cramped properties and, finally, tenement housing clustered around the woolen mill on the riverfront. There are a few artisans&rsquo shops, a gas and service station and a grocery and general store near the mill as well. Colchester Avenue in these years was the principle thoroughfare linking Burlington to the smaller industrial town of Winooski indeed, the city limits end at the Winooski Bridge.
While Burlington grew rapidly during the last decades of the nineteenth century, from 1920 to 1940 its population grew from 22,799 to 27,686, an increase of only about 20%. Yet that Burlington witnessed any growth is significant, considering that the major manufacturing enterprises in the city, including the woolen mills, were on the wane during these decades that included the disastrous flood of 1927 and the Great Depression.
According to the federal census of 1930, approximately 40% of Burlington&rsquos residents at that time were either immigrants or first generation Americans. French Canadians made up the largest group, comprising about 20% of the total population, followed by English-speaking Canadians, Irish, Russians and Poles. Smaller ethnic groups included the English, Italians and Germans. In his ethnographic study of Burlington, We Americans: A Study of Cleavage in an American City, Elin Anderson claims that the 1930 census figures underestimated the size of ethnic groups within the city because of their failure to account for second and even third generations of immigrant families. By his reckoning, 40% of Burlington&rsquos residents were of French Canadian origin and another 28% included Irish, Italians, Jews, Syrians and twenty-nine other ethnic groups. If these figures are accurate, during the 1930s more than two thirds of its residents were relative newcomers to Burlington.
Thus, like most American cities in the early decades of the twentieth century, Burlington had a diverse ethnic populace. There is evidence of this diversity, in fact, in the names of residents on Colchester Avenue, Mill and Barrett Streets listed in the city directories for these years. Anderson summarized the immigration pattern:
"Between 1860 and 1875 the influx of foreigners increased with the boom in the lumber industry. The demand for laborers brought more French Canadians and Irishmen by 1880 there was a small colony of Germans by 1885 there were enough Jews to support a synagogue, and by 1890 a group of Italians had come in to dig sewers, and to build roads at the military post situated five miles from Burlington. In the late nineties Burlington felt the reverberations of the wave of immigration which brought hundreds of new Americans from southeastern Europe&hellip Thus by the turn of the century the character of Burlington had altered markedly from that of its early beginnings. The change since then has been slower. The only continuous movement of recent times has been that of the French Canadians, who still come down across the border to find work in the textile mills which were Burlington&rsquos last gesture toward becoming an industrial city before it settled into its present character as a commercial and educational center."
Later in his study, Anderson describes the demographics of Burlington&rsquos neighborhoods, concluding that the head of a household&rsquos occupation was the single most important index of social and economic status, often also determining the neighborhood in which a family lived. Furthermore, he states that there is a tendency to identify ethnic groups by the industry in which the majority of their members worked: &ldquothus, the French Canadians are identified with the cotton and woolen mills&hellip the Poles with iron foundries, the Italians with road-building and ditch digging, the Greeks with restaurants, the Chinese with laundries.&rdquo  Again, Anderson&rsquos observations are supported by the occupations listed in the city directories for the residents of Colchester Avenue, Mill and Barrett Streets. Spinners, weavers and laborers at the American Woolen Company Mills lived in the vicinity of the factories, alongside a baker, a barber, two carpenters, laborers, masons, other blue collar workers and several widows. Further up the hill along Colchester Avenue, the occupations listed in the directories shift to salesmen, commercial travelers, clerks, bookkeepers and town and university employees. The directories also indicate that most of the residents lower on the hill, near the river, rented their homes, while atop the hill, closer to the hospital on the western end of the avenue, property owners lived in their own dwellings.
The economic prosperity that characterized the 1920s was abruptly interrupted by the disastrous flooding throughout Vermont that occurred in early November 1927. The iron bridge that spanned the Winooski River, connecting Colchester Avenue to Winooski, was swept away. The city detonated explosives to destroy the Johnson Grain Company&rsquos building, the site of an early grist mill along the lower falls of the river, to create a wider channel for the floodwaters and prevent further damage to the area along the riverbanks. But the city, like the rest of the state, rallied quickly to rebuild after the disaster, in which 84 people were killed and $30 million worth of property was lost statewide, at a time when the average wage was $20 per week. The US Army Corps of Engineers sent a company from Delaware to build a temporary pontoon bridge, accessible only to pedestrian traffic, across the river. The work was directed by Lieutenant Leslie R. Groves, who, as a major general during World War II, would go on to direct the Manhattan Project for the development of atomic weapons.
-- Winooski Bridge prior to the flooding in November 1927 -- -- New steel and concrete bridge just after completion in 1928 --
(Both photos from Annual Report of the city of Burlington,1929)
Within a year, the city constructed a new permanent bridge, made of steel plate girders and reinforced concrete spans, designed by J.R. Worcester and Company of Boston. The Burlington company of James E. Cashman was the contractor. His company was also responsible for building Burlington City Hall, Memorial Auditorium and the YMCA. In another curious aside, Cashman, brother of the chief engineer of the Cape Cod Canal project, moved to Burlington to escape the large shadow cast by his successful sibling.
The new bridge opened on August 4, 1928. Robert B. Michaud recalls the great fanfare of the occasion:
"At 1:30-2:00 p.m. there was a band concert held at each end of the bridge. The 7th Field Artillery Band from Fort Ethan Allen played on the Burlington side and the Burlington Military Band on the Winooski side, and then each band marched to the other side of the bridge. A motorcade of notables passed over the bridge each way and opened this vital link to the Chittenden County communities, a link that still carries much of the commuter traffic across the Winooski."
The celebratory atmosphere would be short lived, however. Two years after the flood, another devastating event disrupted prosperity, this time on a national and international level. The Wall Street stock market crashed on October 29, 1929. Burlington, along with the rest of the country, would experience a severe economic slump lasting a decade.
The earliest images in the photographic record of Colchester Avenue, Mill and Barrett Streets from the Louis L. McAllister Collection date to a few weeks before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. They document road construction work, as well as the buildings and landscapes, along these streets from 1929 until 1941. They are accompanied by recent digital images taken from the same viewpoints as the McAllister photographs and show the changes to structures and streetscapes over the next sixty-four to seventy-six years.
 Annual Reports of the City of Burlington, Vermont. (1920, 1930, 1940).
 Elin L. Anderson, We Americans: A Study of Cleavage in an American City (New York: Russell and Russell, 1937), 17-18.
 Manning&rsquos Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directories (Springfield: H.A. Manning Company, 1929,1935,1941).
 Luther B. Johnson, The &rsquo27 Flood (Randolph Center: Greenhills Books, 1928), 107-109.
 Bygone Burlington: A Bicentennial Barrage of Battles, Boats, Buildings and Beings, (Burlington: Burlington Bicentennial Committee, 1976), 51.
 Annual Report of the City of Burlington (1928), 227.
 Robert B. Michaud, Salute to Burlington: An Informal History of Burlington, Vermont (Lyndonville: Lyndon State College, 1991), 134.
 Louis L. McAllister, &ldquoBurlington Street Department Photographs.&rdquo (Burlington: UVM Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections, c.1929-1941).
Anderson, Elin L. We Americans: A Study of Cleavage in an American City. New York: Russell and Russell, 1937.
Annual Reports of the City of Burlington, Vermont, 1929-1945.
Barlow, Phillip L. &ldquoBurlington 1877: 452 Colchester Avenue.&rdquo 2003. http://www. uvm.edu/%7Ehp206/2003-1877/pbarlow/1877/452%20colchester.html.
Beers Map of Burlington, 1869.
Blow, David J. Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods. Vol. 2. Burlington: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1997.
Burlington City Directories. 1905-1941.
Bygone Burlington: A Bicentennial Barrage of Battles, Boats, Buildings and Beings. Burlington: Burlington Bicentennial Committee, 1976.
Carlson, Sabrina. &ldquoBurlington 1869: North Prospect Street East to the Winooski River.&rdquo 2002. http://www.uvm.edu/
Davis, Allen F. Postcards from Vermont: A Social History. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2002.
Fuller, Edmund. Vermont: A History of the Green Mountain State. Montpelier: State Board of Education: 1952.
Hill, Ralph Nading. The Winooski: Heartway of Vermont. New York: Rinehart and Company, 1949.
Hyde, Arthur L. And Frances P. Burial Grounds of Vermont. Bradford: Vermont Old Cemetery Association, 1991.
Jennison, Peter S. Roadside History of Vermont. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1989.
Johnson, Luther B. The &rsquo27 Flood. Randolph Center: Greenhills Books, 1928.
McAllister, Louis L. &ldquoBurlington Street Department Photographs.&rdquo Burlington: Bailey/Howe Library, c.1928-1950.
Michaud, Robert B. Salute to Burlington: An Informal History of Burlington, Vermont. Lyndonville: Lyndon State College, 1991.
Reimann, Liisa. &ldquoBurlington 1877-1890: 9-11 Barrett Street.&rdquo 2004. http://www.uvm. edu/
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1889, 1906, 1912, 1919, 1926, 1938, 1961.
Visser, Thomas D. &ldquoWinooski Falls Historic District, Proposed Boundary Increase, Amendment to National Register Nomination,&rdquo 1986.
Burlington, Vermont - History
The VT Department of Corrections (DOC) receives the Ford Foundation grant of $100,000 to be directed exclusively to the creation of publicity about Reparative Probation. It resulted in several major publications and a presentation of the award at the White House by Al Gore.
The DOC awards grants to Burlington, Newport, Rutland, Brattleboro, Barre, Montpelier, St. Johnsbury and White River, to begin Community Justice Centers, incorporating the Reparative Boards that were operational in those communities.
The City of Burlington begins work toward a "Community Restorative Justice Center" in March 1998 Mayor Peter Clavelle hosts a town meeting on crime and approximately 200 community members attend
A citizen-based Steering Committee formed which was used to coordinate state and local programs addressing crime and conflict. The Citizens Advisory Committee is made up of 30 people, including community and City representatives. Original members of the BCJC would meet and work in the same building as Vermont Pub and Brewery at 95 St. Paul Street.
A Facebook Group Brings Burlington's History to Life
Did you know that, about a century ago, a huge ravine ran right through the middle of Burlington? Until the early 1900s, if you started where the Main Street bar Esox is now and headed south, you would tumble a good 25 feet, almost straight down, by the time you reached the present site of the "Democracy" sculpture across the street.
And did you know that, in 1791, 91 towns in Vermont had larger populations than Burlington (at 322 residents)? However, it didn't take long for Burlington to become the Queen City — which is the nickname for any city that is the largest in its state but not the capital, BTW. By 1835, Burlington was the most populous municipality in Vermont, and it has remained so ever since.
Speaking of numbers, did you know that in 1940 there were six commercial bowling alleys, housing a collective 47 lanes, within Burlington city limits? (Currently there are zero, though St. Mark Catholic Church on North Avenue does have eight private lanes in its basement.) If you had phoned New York City from one of those alleys during that decade, it would have cost 90 cents for three minutes. On the plus side, you could have rung Milton for just 15 pennies.
If you did happen to know any of those BTV trivia tidbits, you're probably either a historian or a member of the Facebook group Burlington Area History. That rapidly growing online community offers educational rabbit holes as deep and intriguing as the storied tunnels under Burlington itself. (What's that, you didn't know about the tunnels? Dude.)
Burlington Area History is the brainchild of Bob Blanchard, who founded the group in September and is largely responsible for its seemingly bottomless repository of photos and well-researched text. The 68-year-old grew up in Burlington's South End and now lives in St. Albans. Though he graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in history, the retired U.S. Customs Service worker never put that degree to professional use.
Until recently, Blanchard hadn't given much thought to local history, and he says he can't recall what prompted his deep dive into Burlington's yesteryear. But he admits to being long intrigued by the city's gilded age, when the bulk of Burlington's Hill Section mansions were built.
"I always was kind of fascinated by, for the size of Burlington, how much money was here," he says. "This place is not that big, but there were a lot of wealthy people here."
There were also lots of folks who left Burlington to make fortunes elsewhere and whose names grace local buildings and institutions — John H. Converse and John P. Howard, for instance.
"Burlington really punched over its weight for many years," Blanchard says. "As a result, there are all these beautiful structures here. And Burlington is pretty fortunate that most of them are still standing."
Burlington Area History is far from the only Facebook group devoted to local history several others cover Vermont history, and a handful focus on individual towns. Before he branched out on his own last year, Blanchard contributed regularly to another group, but he found that his long, narrative-style posts weren't always a great fit. So he launched his own group, hoping to find people similarly interested in exploring the city's history.
"I thought if I could get 200 or 300 people, that would be pretty good," he says.
As of this writing, Burlington Area History has more than 3,300 members. That's an average of 140 to 150 new members a week.
"What's interesting to me is how many young people are joining," Blanchard says. He explains that members of the previous group he belonged to were mostly retirement-age people waxing nostalgic about long-gone landmarks such as Magrams department store, the Strong Theatre and the old St. Paul's Cathedral. While he concedes that his group's most active members tend to fit that description, he's tickled by the surge of interest among younger people.
Any member can post to Burlington Area History, provided the content is of general, rather than personal, interest — that is, no old family photos, please. Many members do post images and memories, often leading to lively discussions about departed people and places and spirited debates about who and what was where and when.
But what distinguishes Burlington Area History from similar groups is Blanchard himself, who prides himself on unearthing items that members might not have seen before. He's a regular visitor to the special collections at the University of Vermont and Champlain College and to the Vermont Historical Society, where he scours non-digital archives for fresh finds.
But Blanchard's brilliance isn't solely in the rare images he uncovers it's in the context he provides for them. "You can take something as mundane as a sewer line and make an interesting post out of it," he says.
Almost all of Blanchard's posts highlight details that evoke the texture of daily life in Burlington through the years, often corroborated with info from the archives of the Burlington Free Press. Recently, posting a photo of Main Street with antique cars and men on bicycles, he noted the movie advertised on the Flynn Theatre marquee in the background: My Friend Flicka, which came out in 1943.
His research often helps date a photo. In an old shot looking up College Street, Blanchard noted a Winooski and Burlington Horse Railroad Company horsecar — essentially a horse-drawn trolley — on the busy thoroughfare. That placed the photo between 1885 and 1893, the only period when those public-transit vehicles traveled Burlington streets.
"It boggles the mind," says Mary Ellen Claremont, one of the longest tenured and most active members of Burlington Area History. "Every day something new comes out, and your mouth is agape. The history just doesn't end. There's always something more."
Claremont, who raised her family in Burlington before retiring to Colchester, says she's made friends and other real-life connections through the group. Having spent most of her adult life in the area, she enjoys the daily nostalgia trips. But more than that, she believes Burlington Area History can help us appreciate, and perhaps preserve, the city's present.
A recently posted photo of the original St. Paul's Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire in 1971, caused Claremont to consider the recent development along St. Paul Street, where the majestic church once stood. From there, her thoughts drifted to the redevelopment of City Hall Park and, of course, the bedeviled CityPlace Burlington pit.
"It's nice to reminisce about what was," she says. "But seeing the old architecture, the detail in so many of the buildings we've lost — it also really opens your eyes."
Sean Moran agrees. Like many Burlington Area History members, he grew up in the area and left to pursue his career. Now an actor, he splits his time between Vermont and Los Angeles. Moran's grandfather was former Burlington mayor J.E. Moran — namesake of the Moran Plant.
Moran echoes Claremont's sentiment that Burlington hasn't always succeeded in preserving its past, citing the transformation of grand hill manses into frat houses and thoughtless downtown developments. Burlington Area History, he suggests, is a reminder not just of the past but of what's at stake as the city contemplates the fate of landmarks such as Memorial Auditorium — or of the long-debated waterfront building that bears his surname.
"I don't think we have reverence," Moran says, "so I love seeing what Burlington was through Bob's page."
"As we get more members, I hope that people stop and think, How can we incorporate what we have?" Claremont says.
"I've always felt that Burlington was really something back in the day," Blanchard says. "Certainly, it was a very different city, architecturally." Like Moran, he's concerned about what could happen to relics of that older architecture, such as Memorial Auditorium.
"People seem to be really more in tune to architectural preservation [than they used to be], though money is always a factor," Blanchard says. "But what people don't seem to really understand is that, once you tear these old buildings down, they are literally not replaceable."
The original print version of this article was headlined "Post Dated | Burlington Area History Facebook group brings the Queen City's past to life"
Burlington, Vermont - HistoryFig. 0. Map of the buildings in this study. Fig. 1. Detail of 1830 Ammi Burnham Young Map detailing the west side Church Street block between College and Bank Streets.
The Church Street blocks between Main Street and Pearl Street have long been the center of Burlington, Vermont, the state&rsquos largest city. Located halfway up the hill between its historic industrial center, the waterfront, and its academic center, the University of Vermont, this section of Church Street shows an early density of buildings and has long been the populated by a diversity of shops and services. The block between College Street and Bank Street is a particularly good example of this. A quick look at the 1830 Ammi Burnham Young map of Burlington Village, this block, on both the east and west sides, shows a higher density of buildings than the surrounding blocks. This suggests its early nature as an organic hub of the village of Burlington. As such, there is a long and rich history concerning much of the block on the west side, the focus of this study. The Ammi Burnham Young map [Fig. 1] shows buildings occupying nearly the complete frontage of the block facing Church Street and is remarkably reminiscent of the building footprints we see even today [Fig. 0].
The area as it stands today is part of the Church Street Marketplace, a four-block section of Church Street Marketplace, an outdoor pedestrian mall that serves as the focus of Burlington&rsquos downtown. It&rsquos occupied by a bevy of retail shops, restaurants and other services, all tied together by a brick-paved pedestrian street, laid over the previous blacktop of the street. A pedestrian marketplace for Downtown Burlington was first conceived in the 1970s and carried out in the early 1980s. The original plan encompassed just the two blocks between College and Cherry, although it was expanded shortly thereafter to include the top block to the north and later, in the mid-2000s, enlarged to its current configuration. This conversion to pedestrian mall further reinforced the idea that this was the heart of downtown and has continued its importance as the economic, social and cultural hub of the city and its environs.
The Block between College and Bank, on the west side, as previously stated said, has long been a densely populated block. Its early economic importance is attested to by an 1862 map of Burlington by Wainwright which marks every address within the block as a store or shop, the lone exception being the Bank of Burlington on the corner of Church and Bank Streets. 1 As one would expect, as there has been a strong commercial presence in these buildings, many dating from before the Civil War, there have been a multitude of alterations, both interior and exterior to accommodate the many diverse tenants that have occupied them. A brief visual survey of the block as it stands today will provide us with a starting point from which to relay our history of the block. We&rsquoll make an imaginary walk starting east on College Street, then heading north on our block of Church Street, then turning west onto Bank Street.
From College Street west of its intersection of Church Street, we see our first building on inquiry on the northwest corner of the intersection. Commonly referred today as the Leunig&rsquos building, this rectangular block with an Art Deco / Streamline Moderne façade occupies frontage on both Church and College streets. Historically, this building has included the addresses of 174 – 176 – 178 on College Streets and 115 – 113 – 111 on Church Streets. Today Leunig&rsquos Bistro & Café is located at 115 Church Street and Danforth Pewter further north at 111 Church Street. After a narrow alley, there is a two-story gable-fronted yellow brick building occupying 107 Church Street, housing The Optical Center, followed by the modern parged façade of the two-story 103 – 105 Church Street, now occupied by a single tenant, Church Street Tavern. Another gated alley separates this building from 99 – 101 Church Street, a two-story commercial building faced with white stucco. It currently houses two businesses, Sweet Thing, a candy store, at 101 Church Street and The Sox Market at 99 Church Street. Garcia&rsquos Tobacco Shop is located at 97 Church Street, another two-story clapboarded commercial building, on its left a door labelled 97 ½, which provides access to a stairwell for this building. The buildings north of this row of two-story commercial buildings are of entirely different character and scale. A four-story brick Italianate building at 93 Church Street, presently vacant, is connected to the north and to that a large brick Renaissance Revival building, occupying the rest of the block north towards Bank Street. This large structure, historically the Howard Opera House, fronts a significant portion of Bank Street as well and historically has occupied numbers 81 – 83 – 85 – 87 – 89 – 91 on Church Street and 159 through 169 on Bank Street. Current tenants include, south to north on Church, Slate, Ten Thousand Villages, Frog Hollow Craft Center, Pascolo Ristorante and ECCO Clothing and, on Bank Street, access to the office spaces in the upper floors at 159 and Simon Pearce gift shop at 157.
1. C. Wainwright. The Village of Burlington, Vt. [map] Burlington, Vermont: 1862. Accessed 11/12/2018, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library, http://cdi.uvm.edu/image/uvmcdi-116.
History of the Leunig's BlockFig. 2. Leunig's Block east facade as it appeared in September 2018. Photo by the author. Fig. 3. Image showing the current Leunig's Block's east facade, circa 1863 Fig. 4. Here we see Hyman Abraham's 1946 alterations of the building, creating a disinctive double facade. The storefront of black carrara glass and metal type of 111 Church Street was added prior in 1933. Fig. 5. Abraham's facade in the late 1970s, after Hyman Abraham sheathed the entire buiding in 1955. Fig. 6. Leunig's Block's College Street facade clearly shows the difference in color of the separate phases of sheating
The block on the northwest corner of Church and College Streets is the location of one of most unusual buildings on the block, the current Leunig&rsquos Building [Fig. 2]. The building itself is rectangular six-by-eight bay commercial building clad in enameled steel sheathing and replacement fenestration in an Art Deco / Streamline Moderne style. The six bays fronting College Street are three stories, as well as the first two bays on Church Street, the roofline then slope upwards to four stories on the remaining six Church Street bays. Each bay consists of square windows framed by glass blocks, separated at each floor level with cream-colored steel panels detailed with a thin-lined brown square between each bay is a thin, protruding pier of the same cream color and brown line detailing, rising to the eaves on the south side, and to the height of the highest windows on the east side, ending with protruding brown caps. Above these piers is a parapet with alternating panels each spelling out a letter of &ldquoLeunig&rsquos&rdquo in the same brown color. The style of the building is one of the few examples of Art Deco architecture in the city and stands in contrast to much of the rest of the historic downtown. When looking at the building from Church Street, however, we see a single brick stack rising up over the level of the parapet, our first clue into the true age of the building.
Our earliest map, the 1830 Ammi Burnham Young map, shows a similar rectangular footprint to the one currently occupied by the Leunig&rsquos Building, however this may have been relatively new at the time, as Rann indicates no structure was there in 1825. 1 However, in 1847 the owners entered into an unusual contract where a new building would be constructed with both owners sharing ownership in this single structure. 2 This building from 1847 is the one that stands there today, albeit greatly altered. This multiple ownership also accounts for the lack of continuity in the east façade of the building. As we can see from Fig. 3, there is a clear demarcation within the design of the Federal-style building. The three-and-a-half story brick building&rsquos gable end faces Church Street has a typical parapeted roofline and three 12x12 sash windows in the upper half story and a fanlight over the center window. A clear line between the two northern windows is evident, as the section north looks to be unpainted brick and south is painted in a cream color. The fenestration on the second and third stories reinforce this apparent separate ownership: in the larger painted section, there are three bays of widely spaced 12x12 sash windows while the unpainted, and much thinner, section has four bays of much more closely spaced 12x12 sash windows. Under these separate sections are wooden porches over the sidewalk a differing character, further reinforcing this building&rsquos unusual conception. Although the roofline, upper half-story, style and overall massing of the building do suggest this block was built entirely at once, the disjointed façade has shaped its visual character throughout much of its history and can still be observed by a keen observer even to this day.
Its inception as a street-level retail space with multiple owners and occupants endures today. Our earliest Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1869 reflects this as the original delineation of the building as the storefronts on Church Street, numbered 115 and 113, seem to follow the façade&rsquos division. The &ldquoback&rdquo, or western side, of the building, with store frontage at 174 College Street, is also evident as a single business and the earlier 1862 Wainwright map marks three places of business where one would expect. 3 This building&rsquos tripartite division – one storefront west facing College Street, one north facing Church Street and one occupying the corner – would be the norm well into the 20th century. Many of this block&rsquos tenants had remarkable runs of success in business and this building was no exception. A certain &ldquoI.M. Hagar&rdquo attested to on the 1869 Burlington map would be in business at 174 College for many years to come. In fact, it may have been his second location within the building, as the 1862 Wainwright map marks &ldquoHagar&rdquo on the corner and as early as 1848 we find advertisements for &ldquoHagar & Arthur&rdquo selling hardware, drugs, paints and other home necessities on the &ldquocorner of Church and College streets&rdquo and in fact Hagar had been in business there since 1836. 4 In the early 1920&rsquos Hagar Hardware and Paint Company opened up another story nearby at 98 Church Street before moving there entirely in 1923. 5 A few short years later, W.E. Peters purchases this section of the building with the intention of altering it for use as his primary florist shop, removing from his location of ten years diagonally across the intersection to his new one, 128 Church. In a newspaper article announcing the move, the location is described as &ldquoabout as near the center of Burlington as a retail store can get,&rdquo speaking to this area&rsquos importance for town at the time. However, Peter&rsquos success at the location would be short-lived. In late 1932, his brick building and all his business&rsquos contents were put up for a forced sale, as well as his home in South Burlington on Shelburne Road. 6 Clearly the frugality of the Great Depression forced only many owners to relinquish their properties, as the businesses did not generate enough income to cover the mortgages. His business, its building and his home were bought by the Chittenden County Trust Company, who had held the mortgages, for a combined $37,500. 7 However, this was not the end of Peter&rsquos business as it does reopen at 185 Bank Street in August of the next year. 8 Peter&rsquos loss of ownership of the building opened the door for his neighbor at 113 Church Street to purchase the property – Hyman Abraham, who would have a great impact on this property. But to tell the story of story of Abraham&rsquos, we&rsquoll have to start with Morris.
Morris Abraham was born in New York in 1861. He was associates with his brother Lewis Abraham in Rutland for ten years before coming to Burlington to open up a store in 1889. 9 Morris Abraham opened up his &ldquofirst class cigar and tobacco store&rdquo at 113 Church Street, in the building that would make Abraham&rsquos well-known in Burlington, using the upper floors for the manufacture of his cigars. 10 As Abraham&rsquos became established at this location, Morris began to expand his offerings and in 1899, he bills his business as &ldquoAbraham&rsquos Cut-Rate Drug Store.&rdquo 11 This did not sit well with other druggists about town and the Burlington Free Press on April, 11th, 1899, only ten days after Morris first announces his new line of business, mention a &ldquoPatent Medicine War.&rdquo According to the article, the druggists claimed Mr. Abraham only took up the medicine business out of spite, although he upholds he merely did so because of the money in it. The druggists were determined to bring Mr. Abraham to an agreement and if not to open a tobacco store directly adjacent to him at 115 Church and severely undercut his prices. Morris offers a truce of sorts, that he will cease his drug business if the others agree to purchase 10,ooo of his cigars per month but, since none of them have ever carried his cigars anyway, he believes he&rsquos under no obligation to them. 12 This spat did not seem to be resolved, but a mere three months after this disagreement, &ldquoThe Bijou Tobacco Store&rdquo indeed opened at 115 Church, advertising &ldquoprices that will make you smile.&rdquo 13 There seemed to be enough business for the both of them, as both stores would exist there, in one form or another, for the next thirty years. Morris was a businessman through and through, adapted his business throughout the years and clearly instilled this business sense on his successor, Hyman Abraham.
Hyman was born in Rutland, Vermont in December 1894 to Lewis Abraham, Morris&rsquo brother and former associate. He attended Dartmouth College then served in World War I, after which he came to Burlington in the wake of his uncle&rsquos death to take up management of his store and by the early 1920s he was the proprietor. 14 If Morris was a good businessman, Hyman was a great one and was not content with being contained to the established and successful drug store at 113 Church Street. His desire for expansion was made possible by Peter&rsquos bad luck, as the bank acquisition of the retail space at 174 College Street and subsequent sale in July 1933 to Hyman Abraham would make it possible. He would continue to rent out the 174 College Street storefront. More importantly, however, this also was the beginning of Abraham&rsquos real estate business and the extensive alterations to the building, after which would be known as &ldquoAbraham&rsquos Block,&rdquo as his extensive modernization left us with the building we largely recognize today. After purchasing the west side of the building, this allowed him to alter the interior of the store and nearly double his floorspace. It also gave him the impetus to greatly update and modernize the façade. 15 For this, Hyman hired noted local architect Louis S. Newton to redesign his storefront in the Art Deco style, using black carrara glass, zig-zag chevron motifs and &ldquoAbraham&rsquos&rdquo written above in modern, thin, metal typeface, which can be seen in Figure 4. 16 The storefront must have seemed drastically at odds with the Federal building it was applied to. Mr. Abraham evidently had plans for a more complete redesign of the façade. After deciding again to expand, he logically decided to take over the space he owned at 174 College to double the size of his store once again and once again embark on a round of modernization. 17 And once again Louis S. Newton was hired and it was he who encased the building in the enameled sheet metal with the familiar cream-and-brown coloring as well as replaced the old windows with square ones surrounded by glass blocks. Notably the height of the Federal parapet extended over the storefront, giving the façade an Art Deco verticality, culminating in it proudly displaying &ldquoABRAHAM&rsquoS&rdquo in an exclamation of its dominance over the building and the block [Fig 4]. This created quite the contrast within the confines of a single building: half a fading 100-year old Federal style commercial building, half a shiny brand-new Art Deco storefront, encompassing and closing in on its elderly neighbor.
This contrast can be seen clearly even if one only considers the stores&rsquo names above their entrances: Abraham&rsquos and A. Schulte. One written in thin modern metal lettering of stark relief, the other in thick heavy serif lettering. One seems to look towards the future and one towards the past. The storefront at 115 Church Street, as we have seen, is inextricably tied to rest of building. When Morris Abraham moved in in 1889, it was occupied by the Central Drug Store, which opened in June 1875, at the &ldquocorner of Church and College Sts&rdquo, also in the tobacco and drug business. 18 It&rsquos no surprise that the arrival of a competitor right next door irked the established tenants. It&rsquos likely their proximity to one another was anything but neighborly. After the great &ldquoPatent Medicine War of 1899,&rdquo The Bijou Tobacco Store took up residence on this corner, which with their already established location and aggressive advertising campaign, was likely a move to take business away from Abraham&rsquos as punishment for his venturing into the drug business. Although it would have changes in name, ownership and management, the Central Drug Store would endure here until Christmas Eve 1929, when a fire broke out, extensively damaging interior and stock of the business to the tune of $20,000. 19 The next year, the proprietor R.T. Burrows announced that, after over fifty years in the same location, the Central Drug Store would close its business. 20 Perhaps the competition with Abraham&rsquos had become too much and the extensive loss and cost of repairs would tip the scales in favor closing. 21
Shortly after Hyman Abraham purchased the western side of the building, another cigar store, A. Schulte, a regional chain out of New York, moved in. 22 It would remain here for over twenty years, when in 1954 it closed and re-opened under local ownership as &ldquoSchulte&rsquos of Vermont&rdquo. 23 It was during this incarnation that Hyman Abraham finally acquired the final piece of his puzzle and was able to purchase this section of the building in July 1955. The article stated he &ldquohas been negotiating to purchase the block for several years&rdquo and claimed his plans for the space were &ldquoindefinite.&rdquo 24 Photos from the era however reveal that his plans seemed definite enough and although he never expanded his drug store again to encompass the newly acquired space, he did expand his modern façade to finally cover the entirety of the exterior, as seen in Fig. 5. Although the building today looks consistent, we can see traces of stages of construction on the College Street façade. Where the façade is split by &ldquoLeunig&rsquos&rdquo in Fig. 6, we see a slight color change in the paneling, indicating a difference in age. Abraham&rsquos, unlike with their acquisition of the College Street frontage, never expanded into this space, even after Schulte&rsquos of Vermont owners declared bankruptcy and closed shop in 1958. 25
The 1960s finally put an end to the long-running tobacco and drug store on the corner when A&W, a long-running root beer and burger chain, moved into this location. This era also brought the first incarnation of &ldquoAbraham&rsquos Camera Center,&rdquo initially operated above the drug store on Church Street by Hyman&rsquos son-in-law Irwin Abrams, who married into the family in 1955. 26 Irwin would come to manage both the drug store on Church Street and the Abraham Building Corporation which had real estate holdings about the city. 27 This is the business that would continue in the original Abraham&rsquos location into the new millennium. After Hyman&rsquos death in 1974, Irwin Abrams would take over ownership of the business and phase out the pharmacy by the 80s, dedicating the business full time to photography. On the corner of the building, a faded protruding sign advertising a &ldquoCamera Center&rdquo still is present. His son and an associate even set up a professional advertising photography business in the building in 1982. 28
During this time the last important resident begins, one that would ultimately eclipse the Abraham&rsquos name, Leunig&rsquos Bistro & Café. They first opened in 1980 and have been there since, slowly expanding throughout the building and making their mark on the building in an Abraham&rsquos-esque fashion. 29 Throughout their time, they have expanded from the original corner store to encompass the old 174 College space, added a permanent porch in the &lsquo90s on the College Street side to accommodate added diners, utilized the Church Street Marketplace in warm weather and most recently added a lounge on the second floor, complete with a &lsquo20s era theme and Art Deco detailing in line with the rest of the building. This expansion has coincided with the contraction of Abraham&rsquos, who finally closed on Christmas Eve 2003, after Irwin&rsquos 45 years in the camera business here and Abraham&rsquos 115 years overall. 30
The proprietors who took the building from a 19th century Federal commercial block to Burlington&rsquos most recognizable 20th century Art Deco landmark only lasted a few short years into the 21st century. Leunig&rsquos dominance seemed complete when in 2006 they got approval to change the letters reading &ldquoAbraham&rsquos&rdquo along the building&rsquos parapet to read &ldquoLeunig&rsquos&rdquo, a final declaration of the changing times. Interestingly, just as Hyman Abraham covered a historic building in a modern skin, Leunig&rsquos covered Abraham&rsquos with stretch vinyl panels, so beneath them evidence of the legacy of the Abraham&rsquos still remains.
1. W.S. Rann. History of Chittenden County, Vermont. (Chittenden County, Vermont: 1886), 421.
2. National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Church Street Historic District, Chittenden County, Vermont. Burlington, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 2010, 76.
3. C. Wainwright. The Village of Burlington, Vt. [map] (Burlington, Vermont: 1862), accessed 11/12/2018, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library, http://cdi.uvm.edu/image/uvmcdi-116.
4. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), April 6th, 1848, 3.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 23rd, 1926, 8.
5. &ldquoCity News,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 28th, 1938, 12.
6. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 12th, 1932, 8.
7. &ldquoW.E. Peter&rsquos Property Is Sold At Auction,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 31st, 1932, 10.
8. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), August 5th, 1933, 6.
9. &ldquoObituary – Morris Abraham,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), November 19th, 1917, 8.
10. &ldquoThe Patent Medicine War,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), April 11th, 1899, 6.
11. Advertisment, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), April 1st, 1899, 5.
12. &ldquoThe Patent Medicine War,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), April 11th, 1899, 6.
13. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), July 29th, 1899, 2.
14. &ldquoHyman Abraham, Businessman, Dies in Florida,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), June 18th, 1974, 12.
15. &ldquoHyman W. Abraham Buys Peters&rsquo Block,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), July 10th, 1933, 14.
16. Historic Preservation Program, The Burlington Book. (Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program, 1980), 25.
17. &ldquoAbraham&rsquos Store To Be Double Present Size Other Changes Coming As Result,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), November 24th, 1945, 14.
18. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), June 1st, 1875, pg.2.
19. &ldquoCentral Drug Store Damaged By Fire,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 26th, 1929, 9.
20. &ldquoRestaurant To Succeed Long Time Corner Drug Store,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), June 14th, 1930, 9.
21. &ldquoCity News,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), July 2nd, 1930, 10.
22. &ldquoSchulte Company to Open Chain Cigar Store Here,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 24th, 1933, 7.
23. &ldquoLeblancs Rent Former Site Of Schulte Store,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 16th, 1955, 9.
24. &ldquoAbraham Buys Adjacent Block On Church St.,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), July 19th, 1955, 1.
25. &ldquoOperators of Schulte&rsquos, Bake Shop File in Bankruptcy in U.S. Court,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 15th, 1958, 11.
26. &ldquoEsther Abraham Becomes Fiancee Of Irwin Abrams,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 12th, 1955, 4.
27. &ldquoCar Towing Last Resort, Businessmen Tell Court,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 14th 1968, 12
28. &ldquoPhotographers Set Up Shop To Take the Difficult Shots,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 2nd, 1982, pg 45.
29. &ldquoDid You Know?,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 3rd, 1980, 37.
30. Shawn Turner, "Downtown camera shop closes," The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 30th, 2003, 4.
Fig. 7. Facade of 107 Church Street in September 2018. Photograph by the author
107 Church StreetFig. 8. 107 Church Street as is appearing in the last years of Bero's jewelry. Note the clock
Although the 1830 Ammi B. Young map indicates structures in all these locations, most facades show little declaration of age. While the storefront is a typically modern glass-and-steel-framed one, the second story of 107 Church Street indicates more of its age [Fig.7]. The three segmentally arched windows with brick drip moldings, central oculus window (long since filled-in), cornice returns and brackets underneath the modern glass canopy indicate this as an early 19th century Federal-styled building, is more than likely the same structure from the 1830 map and in fact what &ldquomay be the oldest intact historic structure on Church Street&rdquo is attested to as early as 1825. 1 As early as the 1860s there was a wooden shed in the rear, which was added onto in the late 1880s, as evidenced by 1889 Sanborn Map, and these wooden clapboarded structures still exist today. 2 The weight of history also seems to be behind this building in terms of occupancy. As early as 1881 the store was occupied by H.E. Adams, a watchmaker and jeweler, who also had expertise as an optician and ophthalmologist, and continued as a jewelry store for many years. 3 In fact, it seemed so well-established as a jewelry and eyewear location that Nelson Bero moved his established store here from only three lots north at 99 Church Street. Bero also updated the store making it &ldquoone of the most attractive on the street&rdquo with new plate glass windows, marble window bases and an interior finished in mahogany. 4 The Bero Company&rsquos most enduring addition was the distinctive street sign clock which is still an emblem of this block. The clock, now accompanied by neon wire-rim glasses advertising current occupant The Optical Center, which was installed in 1925 and called the &ldquounofficial timepiece of Burlington,&rdquo can be seen in Figure 8. 5 Bero operated at this location until 1967, long after Mr. Bero had passed, ending what was a remarkable 174-year business history as a jewelry store on Church Street, having been established as Brinsmaid and Hildreth in 1793 on the second story of 104 Church. Jim Detore, a local photographer, who bought 107 Church Street after Bero&rsquos departure, vowed to keep the landmark clock outside his new photography and gift shop. 6 Detore&rsquos competition to Abraham&rsquos Camera Center with only an alley separating the two was short-lived however as Mr. Detore passed in January 1969. 7 The Optical Center, then owned by Herbert Davis, moved into the location and keeping with the traditional use of the store sold eyewear as well as gifts. It was Davis that also had the clock repaired to an operable condition. 8 The Optical Center still occupies this location today and currently holds the distinction as the longest running business on this block of Church Street.
1. National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Church Street Historic District, Chittenden County, Vermont. Burlington, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 2010, 81.
2. W.S. Rann. History of Chittenden County, Vermont. (Chittenden County, Vermont: 1886), 421.
3. Sanborn Map Company, Burlington 1889, Sheet 04. [map]. (New York: Sanborn Map Company), accessed October 10th, 2018, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library, https://cdi.uvm.edu/image/uvmcdi-86384
4. &ldquoH.E. Adams & Sons, Watchmakers and Jewellers,&rdquo The Burlington Independent (Burlington, VT), April 9th, 1886, 5.
5. &ldquoNew Jewelry Store,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 2nd, 1910, 7.
6. &ldquoBero Jewelry Co. Closing After 174-Year History,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 19th 1967, 9.
7. &ldquoSaved,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), June 9th, 1967, 17.
8. &ldquoJames V. Detore Sr. Dies Businessman, Photographer,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), January, 18th, 1969, 11.
103-105 Church StreetFig. 9. 103 - 105 Church Street, now occupied by Church Street Tavern, on a typically busy Saturday in October 2018. Photograph by the author. Fig. 10. This image shows the plaque found at 103 Church Street, but also the concrete parged rusticated false quoins, similar to those found around the entrance, as well as the bold color choices. Fig. 11. A business directory clipping from 1882 shows the prevalence of jewelers on this block - 99, 103 and 107, three different jewelers within three buildings.
The modern storefront of 103 – 105 Church Street speaks little of its actual age as early 19th century wooden framed structure. The wide recessed band of aluminum-framed windows on the second story and the concrete parged surface of grey, black and red, scored on the piers and around the door frame to resemble stone, indicate the façade modernization done in the early 1980s [Fig.9]. 1 Photographic evidence indicates the historic façade, which seemed to have been a low-pitched gable fronted structure, has been covered up since at least the late 1960s. Today, the building has a plaque recounting is history as &ldquoone of the oldest surviving building on Church Street, possibly built in the 1820s&rdquo [Fig. 10]. This assertion seems to be valid as a structure is evidenced here on the 1830 Ammi B. Young map. The footprint seems largely unchanged according to map evidence, as brick warehouses were directly behind it. These were demolished in the late 1950s to make space for a parking lot and a wooden triangular addition was added to the back of the building seemingly connecting it to a brick warehouse behind structures at 101-99-97 Church Street in the 1970s. 2 The plaque also tells us that the famous Pangorn and Brinsmaid jewelry store was formed here in 1832, whose establishment would eventually lead its way to the Bero Company in the next century. J.E. Brinsmaid still operated here in the 1880s and in fact within the span of three buildings, there were three jewelers, as shown on a Burlington Free Press business directory [Fig. 11]. 3
The building, while housing a single restaurant since the late 1960s, has typically been two storefronts. 4 The 105 Church Street location housed (appropriately) a jewelry store in the 1870s, a Chinese laundry in the 1880s and 90s, then the headquarters for Citizen&rsquos Coal Company for over fifty years, up until 1955. 5 After this long tenancy, it briefly housed several businesses before being absorbed by the adjacent restaurant. 103 Church Street, as the plaque indicates, has held a long line of restaurants, much of their history intertwined. A 1959 advertisement after a remodeling perhaps lays it out best: opened in 1908 as Boston Lunch, renamed Queen City Café in 1925, then Liberty Restaurant in 1930 and being passed down from one co-owner to the next. 6 The first changing of hands was perhaps spurred on by a fire originating in the Boston Lunch kitchen on September 21st, 1925. The blaze spread to through adjacent wooden buildings as well, contained by the brick veneers of 107 Church and 95 Church. With much physical and monetary damage to multiple businesses, it led the fire marshal to declare that &ldquobeing in the inner fire district of the inner city, these damaged buildings should not be reconstructed. They are fire traps.&rdquo 7 Perhaps against his wishes, these buildings were rebuilt and would endure another round of fire two decades later. The Liberty Restaurant, after nearly sixty years in operation, was sold outright to two guys, who opened another eatery here aptly named &ldquoTwo Guys.&rdquo 8 It&rsquos continued its presence as a restaurant occupying to entire building since, under several names: The Office in the 1970s, Queen City Tavern in the 1980s and early 1990s and Church Street Tavern since 1995. 9
1. National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Church Street Historic District, Chittenden County, Vermont. Burlington, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 2010, 82.
2. &ldquoBrick Wall Topples Wrong Way Here, Crashes Down on Liberty Restaurant,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 1st, 1958, 7.
Sanborn Map Company, Burlington 1978, [map]. (New York: Sanborn Map Company), accessed September 11th, 2018, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library.
3. &ldquoCity Directory,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), July 6th, 1882, 1.
4. &ldquoRestaurant Changes Hands,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 11th, 1967, 8.
5. Advertisement, &ldquoGeo. Simpson, Watchmaker and Jeweller,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 5th, 1871, 2.
&ldquoNotice,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), April 1st, 1901, 3.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 19th, 1902, 5.
&ldquoCitizens Coal To Move Soon To New Office,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 17th, 1955, 7.
6. Advertisement, &ldquoA New, Improved Liberty Restaurant Opens Today,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 9th, 1959, 9
7. &ldquoLoss of $35,000 In Sunday Morning Fire,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 21st, 1925, 7.
8. &ldquoRestaurant Changes Hands,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 11th, 1967, 8.
9.&ldquoBurlington&rsquos Colorful Eating Places,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 28th, 1974, 6.
Advertisement, &ldquoGrand Opening Friday Sept 28th The Queen City Tavern,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 28th, 1984, 25.
Stacey Chase, &ldquoChurch Street Taven plans April 1 Opening,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 25th, 1995, 14.
99-101 ChurchFig. 12. The current facade of 99 - 101 Church Street in September 2018. Photograph by the author. Fig. 13. A circa-1880s photograph looking north towards the Howard Opera House. The three-story 99 Church Street can be seen on the left, as well as a sign indicating jewelry store and watchmakers Brinsmaid & Hildreth (see Fig. 11) with a suspended clock below. the two-story 97 Church Street can be seen to its right. Fig. 14. Storefront of Burlington Shoe Shine and Repairing Co. at 101 Church, photograph likely taken in 1940s.
The two-story white stucco building that stand here today is all that remains of an earlier 3-story structure [Fig. 12]. Photographic evidence from late 19th century indicates a light-colored clapboarded structure with Italianate detailing and cornice, however it has been stuccoed since at least the early 1930s [Fig. 13]. 1 Unlike 103 – 105 Church Street, this double storefront property has remained separate throughout its history, and businesses have operated out of the second stories with residences on the third. In 101, as early as the 1880s, the Kent Brothers established their confectionary and grocery store which operated until relocation in 1912. 2 The Kent store also utilized the brick storehouse behind his store for storage and as a bakery. The following year the Burlington Shoe Shine Parlors opened up on street level, but a bakery was still being operated out of this location. 3 In 1924, a candy store named Candyland moved in only to be ousted by another shoe related business, Burlington Shoe Repairing Company in 1931, the storefront of which can be seen in Fig. 14. 4 This business would operate under one name or another at this location until the mid-80s. 5 Since then, the location has housed a candy store of some sort, reflecting its earlier incarnation in the 1920s. 99 Church Street has also been to home to long established businesses, starting with the first location in the early 1880s of Brinsmaid & Hildreth, formed by the brother and former associates of Edgar Brinsmaid, who continued to operate out of 103 Church Stre, just three doors down. 6 They manufactured jewelry and imported watches as well as acted as early opticians in the area. 7 Interestingly, the circa-1880s photograph seen in Fig. 13 shows a suspended clock outside of their shop, perhaps inspiring the one later located at 107 Church. Nelson Bero would continue on their business under The Bero Company after 1903 before moving a few doors down in 1910. 8 A grocery store, Boston Fruit and Meat Market, was located there for over twenty years before several businesses came and went during the Great Depression. 9 One, the Collegiate Shoppe, expanded from 97 Church Street and joined it via a large archway to 99, a marriage that was evidently short-lived, as another shoe repair, The Shufix, came into the location in 1941 which operated there until the 1970s. 10 Several businesses have since operated here, including an art supply in the 1980s, a t-shirt shop in the 1990s and currently The Sox Market. This block is evidence of healthy business competition throughout the years, as similar or nearly identical businesses operated concurrently within a few doors of one another. It speaks to the block&rsquos long history as an established business sector in the city. This building&rsquos third-floor residences, however, were swiftly erased on October 22nd, 1943, when a worker dropped a can of cleaning fluid on a lighted gas boiler towards the rear of the Burlington Shoe Repair Company. The Burlington Free Press called the blaze the largest in many months and it left an indelible mark on the streetscape, as it reduced this building&rsquos height by a third. 11 The rebuilding likely wiped out any lingering historic elements of the building&rsquos façade, leaving it the long-standing but greatly altered building we see today
1. &ldquoChurch Street Fire Does Damage of $1,500,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 7th, 1931, 8.
2. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 28th, 1883, 3.
&ldquoBig Business Transfer,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 16th, 1912, 8.
3. &ldquoCity News,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 15th,1913, 8.
Paul Pry, &ldquoWho&rsquos Who In Burlington,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), August, 17th 1917, 10.
4. &ldquoCity News,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 24th, 1924, 8.
&ldquoCity News,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), April 22nd, 1931, 10.
5. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), January 26th, 1986, 17.
6. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), July 1st, 1882, 4
7. Advertisement, The Burlington Courier (Burlington, VT), July 1st, 1852, 3.
8. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 2nd, 1903, 5.
9. &ldquoCity News,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), November 11th, 1911, 8.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 16th, 1933, 9.
10. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 15th, 1935, 8.
&ldquoHoward Nat&rsquol Will Expand Into Adjoining Church St. Building,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 14th, 1940, 5. &ldquoFire Ruins Three-Story Wooden Flynn Est. Bldg. on Church St.,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October, 23rd, 1943. Pg. 9.
97 / 97 ½ Church StreetFig. 15. Current facade of 97 / 97 1/2 Church Street. Photograph by the author. Fig. 16. Photograph of the block in the late 1960s, with Burlington Savings Bank's dramatic advertising. Note the bay window on 97 Church Street.
This small 2 1/2-story white clapboarded single storefront commercial wooden structure with Italianate detailing [Fig. 15] is another with a long structural and business history on Church Street. Like its wooden neighbors to its south, it's evidenced on the 1830 Ammi B. Young map and it&rsquos indicated as the business of Miss Kennedy on the 1862 Burlington Map. Kennedy&rsquos millinery store is advertised in the Burlington Free Press through the 1880s, when a particular advertisement seems to indicate a going out of business sale. 1 Perhaps it&rsquos no surprise to learn that in her place, jeweler-watchmaker-optician A.D. Bristol occupied the space until 1902, in direct competition with his next-door neighbors. Syrian native Demetrius Nour briefly operated an Oriental Rug Store here, before it reverted to the block&rsquos familiar formula under R.W. Parish, Jeweler-Optician, until the late 20s. 2 The location was then converted to a clothing store and had several incarnations during the 30s and early 40s. 3 Curiously and perhaps coincidentally, this location was the temporary headquarters for a Republican mayoral candidate in 1941 between clothing stores and held another political post for the Democratic Party City Headquarters just two years later, before another jeweler Ralph Van Gelder moved in later in 1943. 4 He would stay for eleven years before relocating to Florida. 5 A child and adolescent clothing store occupied thereafter, strangely recycling the tagline &ldquoExclusive but not Expensive&rdquo of the 1930s occupant. 6 Whether it still resonated in the community consciousness or was a simple historic homage by the current tenant, or perhaps sheer coincidence, we&rsquoll never know. The building housed - yet again - a jeweler, Fremeau&rsquos, who was seeking temporary tenancy in 1974 after a fire in their building further north on Church Street, and would house more clothing establishments until 1986, when – yet again – a Republican campaign temporarily had an office here, this time for Lieutenant Governor. 7 Throughout much of this street-level storefront shuffle, the second story would be occupied by various barbers and hair salons. Local entrepreneur and clothing designer April Cornell would purchase the property in 1993, convert the upstairs to an apartment, and make the street front her flagship clothing store, before moving a few doors north several years later, after which an upscale off-shoot of her brand, Kit Cornell, occupied the space. 8 Garcia&rsquos Tobacco Store would move in 2007 as the first new use of this building since the first Republican headquarters in the 1940s. They occupy it to this day.
Sometime in the 1890s the exterior staircase accessing the second floor was closed in, connecting it to 99-101 Church today this access to the second-story apartment is 97½. 9 Other than this, photographic evidence from the 1880s shows a similar building to what we see today, as seen in Fig. 13 - a light clapboard exterior with a bracketed cornice - excepting the fenestration changes made on the second floor. Sometime between the late 1950s and late 1960s, the two second floor windows were replaced with one large central bay window, as seen im Fig. 16. The building as it appears today contained a second story band of three sash windows, topped by a segmentally arched tripartite window of the same width. The combination of the two creates an allusion to the grand arched windows of the Howard Opera House to its north.
1. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 24th, 1888, 6.
2. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 31st, 1903, 8.
&ldquoNew Jewelry Store,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), June 6th, 1904, 7.
3. &ldquoNew Smart Shop Opens On Thursday,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 20th, 1929, pg.9.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 26th, 1933, 9.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 14th, 1941. Pg.8
4. &ldquoBrisbin-for-Mayor Club Establishes Its Headquarters,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 11th, 1941, 9.
&ldquoDemocratic City Hdqts. Opened On Church St.,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 16th, 1943, 7.
&ldquoLocal Briefs,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 13th, 1943, 14.
5. &ldquoRalph Van Gelder, Purchases Jewelry Store in Florida,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 23rd, 1954, 9.
6. &ldquo&lsquoYoung Land,&rsquo Children&rsquos Store, Open on Church St.,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), June 19th, 1954, 13.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 16th 1961, 3.
&ldquo&lsquoDisaster&rsquo Label Asked For Church Street Fire,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), August 3rd, 1974, 12.
Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), May 29th, 1986, 10.
&ldquoSmith To Open Office,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 29th, 1986, 10.
8. &ldquoLocal Real Estate Transactions,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 6th, 1993, 31.
&ldquoRetail Roundup,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), February 4th, 1997, 5.
&ldquoNew Stores In Burlington,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 20th, 1999, 5.
9. Sanborn Map Company, Burlington 1900, Sheet 21, [map]. (New York: Sanborn Map Company), accessed September 15th, 2018, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library, https://cdi.uvm.edu/image/uvmcdi-86456
93 Church StreetFig. 17. Photo of 93 Church Street in September 2018, showing its close proximity to the Howard Opera House. Photograph by the author. Fig. 18. Detail of the window lintel at 93 Church Street with the prominent letter "B".
The building at the current address 93 Church Street represents a visual break from the rest of the block. Historically referred to as 95 Church Street, this building is structurally, architecturally and historically tied to the Howard Opera House [Fig. 17]. Built within a year of the Howard Opera House and designed by the same architect, this four-story Italianate commercial building is complementary of the adjacent Opera House, leading to an article declaring that it &ldquoadjoins and practically forms a part of the Howard Block.&rdquo 1 It was originally built for the Burritt Brothers, who operated a drug store out of it from its construction through the 1880s. Although a ground-glass globe inscribed with &ldquoBurritt Bros.&rdquo over the entrance is long since gone, you can still detect the presence of the original tenants by the stylized &ldquoB&rdquo in each upper story window lintel [Fig. 18]. 2 Even after the Burritt Bros. vacated, the location continued on as a pharmacy under the proprietorship of George LaFountain with the name &ldquoOpera House Pharmacy,&rdquo clearly playing up its close proximity, and later by George Churchill, who had previously run a Rutland drug store for eight years, and who would take over in the 1896 and would operate there continuously until the 1920s. 3 An advertisement for his business on the south side of the building can be detected in Fig. 13. It would be another pharmacy owner and Rutland native who would buy his business. In 1927, a newly incorporated firm Soda Luncheonettes, Inc., formed by three local businessmen including Hyman Abraham of Abraham&rsquos Pharmacy at the end of the same block, to buy Churchill&rsquos store, discontinue the tobacco and drug lines and operate it as a luncheonette. Not only did they obtain the lease but also the entire stock of pharmaceuticals and equipment. Extensive alterations were made for the conversion and an addition to house part of the kitchen as added to the rear. 4 The luncheonette would continue until 1938, when the whole building, which was indeed still owned by druggist George Churchill, was sold to David Stollman of Plattsburgh, NY, who opened his third ladies&rsquo dress shop. 5 The store was remodeled and a large plate-glass-and-aluminum storefront that was 15 feet deep was added. 6 Stollman&rsquos would operate there for fifteen years before moving to be replaced by Bernsol&rsquos, a dress shop also owned and designed by David and his son Soloman. 7 Bernsol&rsquos would endure until 1972 but Stollman would continue business in St. Albans for years after. 8 During Stollman&rsquos tenancy, Burlington Savings Bank would purchase the building and install a walk-up teller at the storefront. 9 This acquisition would coincide with the clearing out of the interior of the block for a drive-up teller service at the back of their 86 St. Paul main location. These bold advertisements on the building, with large swooping arrows pointing drivers and pedestrians to their respective locations, can be seen in Fig. 16. In the 1970s and 80s Magram&rsquos would house their department store&rsquos Children&rsquos Shop in this location, effectively making it part of the former Opera House. As Magram&rsquos business began to falter in the 1980s, the owners sold the buildings to local developers Nord Brue and Michael Dressell in 1989. 10 They had founded Bruegger&rsquos Bagels in Troy, NY earlier in the decade and intended to use the location as their hometown bagel shop. 11 They would use the rear 19th century warehouse as a production facility for the store. 12 This downtown Bruegger&rsquos would operate until its closing in December 2017. 13 The location is slated to be occupied by Burlington Bagel Bakery, a local bagel shop founded in Burlington in 1979 by Roy Feldman which pre-dates the existence of Bruegger&rsquos. 14
1. &ldquoA Palatial Drug Store,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 17th, 1878, 3.
3. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 7th, 1891, 8.
4. &ldquoLocal Drug Store To Become Eating Place,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 19th, 1927, 8
5. &ldquoDress Goods Store To Be Opened Here By Plattsburg Man,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 3rd, 1938, pg 10.
6. &ldquoDress Shop Opens in Remodeled Quarters Today,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 15th, 1938, 5.
7. &ldquoNew Dress Shop to Open in October at 95 Church Street,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), August 31st, 1953, 9.
8. Advertisement, The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 6th, 1972, 5.
9. &ldquoLocal News Events During 1952 Presented In Summary by Dates,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), January 1st, 1953, 4.
10. &ldquoMagrams Sells Its Old Home,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), August 13th, 1989, 1.
11. &ldquoBruegger&rsquos Comes Home,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), September 4th, 1989, 37.
12. National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Church Street Historic District, Chittenden County, Vermont. Burlington, VT: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 2010, 82.
13. &ldquoBruegger&rsquos on Church Street Closes,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), December 12th, 2017, A2.
14. &ldquoBagels coming back to Church Street,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), August 2nd, 2018, A14.
A Brief History of John Purple HowardFig. 19. The bust of John Purple Howard erected in a niche at the Old Mill at University of Vermont. Howard gave a donation for the renovation of the building.
John Purple Howard, born in 1814, was the fifth child of John and Hannah Howard. His father, a descendent of Roger Williams, had come from Providence, Rhode Island, and his mother Bristol, Massachusetts. The elder John Howard would become well-known in Burlington as a landlord of &ldquoone of the best and most popular hotels in Burlington for many years.&rdquo 1 His oldest brother, Sion Earl, was also a successful Burlington merchant. It would be in the hotel business that John Purple would make his fortune. The younger John would leave Burlington at the age of fifteen to join his elder brother Daniel Dyer, who at the time was in charge of the Exchange Hotel in New York City. They would later arrange for the 20-year lease of a block of buildings close by to City Hall Park on Broadway and transform it into a popular hotel, the Irving House, which they operated for some years and amassing their fortunes. 2 John Purple retired from the business in 1852 and set his remaining years to the pursuit of travel and public philanthropy. A local judge claimed: &ldquoMr. Howard, as I have said, has travelled long and far. He has crossed the ocean over twenty-five times and extended his journeyings through South America, and under the pyramids in Egypt, and in other foreign lands, but I believe he would still say of his boyhood home… &lsquoWhere&rsquoer I roam whatever reams to see, my heart, untraveled, fondly turns to thee.&rsquo&rdquo 3 Although he would never yet again return to Burlington to live, his benefactions throughout the city would make him a famous and respected man in this town. Although he was not educated in any formal way, he would make multiple gifts to the University of Vermont. Beginning in 1881 with a gift of $50,000 to chair of natural history, he gave another $50,000 the following year for the remodeling and reconstruction of the old college building, in 1883 erecting a statue of French nobleman and Revolutionary War soldier Marquis de Lafayette on the college green which stands to this day, and 1884 saw him giving a gift for the construction of a new building for the Medical Department. 4 It&rsquos no surprise that a large bust of John P. Howard still occupies the center niche of the Old Mill building, seen in Fig. 19. Among his other gifts were to his boyhood church, St. Paul&rsquos Episcopal, a $10,000 grant in 1880 for the construction of a new chapel. 5 Perhaps his most generous and enduring gift, however, was the construction of the Howard Opera House, which we will turn our attention to next. John Purple Howard died in England in 1885 but was returned to his hometown for burial and although he never married or had any children, his munificent gifts about his hometown have ensured his legacy since and for years to come. 6
1. Louise Maxine Varisco, &ldquoFamily History of William Howard and Patience Dyer,&rdquo accessed September, 19th 2018, http://www.ahjur.org/louise/howard.html
2. W.S. Rann. History of Chittenden County, Vermont. (Chittenden County, Vermont: 1886), 437-8.
3. &ldquoThe Howard Opera House,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), March 4th, 1879, 3.
4. W.S. Rann. History of Chittenden County, Vermont. (Chittenden County, Vermont: 1886), 203-7, 245.
5. &ldquoTwo Handsome Gifts,&rdquo The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT), October 30th, 1880, 3.
6. Louise Maxine Varisco, &ldquoFamily History of William Howard and Patience Dyer,&rdquo accessed September, 19th 2018, http://www.ahjur.org/louise/howard.html
The Howard Opera HouseFig. 20. This photo shows the Howard Opera House viewed from the northeast atop a parking garage. It's massiveness is evident and note it's physical connections to 93 Church and 157 Bank. Fig. 21. This stereoview taken between 1863 and 1878 shows the intersection of Church and Bank Streets, on its southwest corner is the Bank of Burlington, occupying the lot that would become the location of the Howard Opera House. Fig. 22. Photograph of the Howard Opera House shortly after construction. Note the raised piers over the pilasters.
By far the largest, grandest and most imposing structure on this block is the former Howard Opera House, occupying a large lot on the corner of College and Bank Streets [Fig. 20]. Built in a Renaissance Revival style with Italianate influences, the building is massive, and it surely dominated the streetscape upon its construction and is still a prominent structure on Church Street. Its Church Street façade consists of five large arched bays, each three windows wide and culminating in three-window arch, separated by brick pilasters. Beneath each bay is separate retail location and lining the parapet is a green cornice, adorned with masks and horns, attesting to its original use. The Bank Street façade, which was the Opera House&rsquos formal entrance, consists of two similar bays flanking a taller bay which once displayed the building&rsquos name. To the west of this tripartite arrangement is another thinner and taller section with two arched entrances which served as the formal entrance to Opera House. To the west is an Italianate commercial building of three stories connected to the Opera House.
Fig. 23. An aerial view from the top of Church Street showing the Howard Opera House's pyramidal roof that was removed in 1904.
Before delving too deeply into the history of the building that now occupies the site, let&rsquos discuss what preceded it. The 1830 Ammi B. Young map shows a prominent building on the corner and a smaller one to the south. In the smaller building, which roughly occupied what is now 93 Church Street, Sion E. Howard, older brother of John Purple Howard, had a dry goods store as early as 1830 and what is purported to the town&rsquos first cash store, in a small, white two-story building. In between these structures was a garden. Sion&rsquos residence was just a short walk away, located on the corner St. Paul and Bank Streets. 1 Whether Sion owned this entire section of the block is unclear, but the 1869 Burlington map makes clear that by this time his younger brother John P. Howard is the owner of this plot. 2 Sion passed in 1866 and it&rsquos possible that his brother inherited or bought the property upon his passing. 3 This corner&rsquos prominence is confirmed by the 1853 and 1862 maps that show this corner building as the site of the Bank of Burlington. This bank likely occupied this site from 1820s before its relocation in 1867, after constructing the elegant stone building on the northeast corner of Church and College which still stands. In 1869 the eastern half of the building was being used as tailor&rsquos shop, which the western half was a dwelling. 4 Luckily, we have a stereo-view, seen in Fig. 21, from the 1860s or 70s that gives us a glimpse into what this building looked like. We see a squarish two-story brick commercial building with a string course framing three arched bays, the center containing the main entrance. Second story contains three rectangular windows and the building is topped by a wooden balustrade. It looks largely undetailed but retains a classical feel similar to that of the building that would soon replace it.
Fig. 24. Interior of the Howard Opera House. Click here to view 1879 Burlington Free Press article discussing the Opera House at the time of its opening.
The Howard Opera House was funded by John Purple Howard at a cost of $100,000 and designed by noted New York City architect, Stephen Decatur Hatch, originally from Swanton, Vermont, who also designed 93 Church Street, the Italianate building attached to the Howard Opera House&rsquos southern side. It seems that Mr. Howard desired in his last years to build a significant public building for his hometown and judging by its location on the long-time property of his elder brother Sion&rsquos business, it was much a remembrance of his family&rsquos presence in the city as it was for himself. It&rsquos not for nothing that his well-known father was referred to as &ldquoUncle&rdquo John Howard by the Burlington community. 5 With the limitations of the assembly hall in the old City Hall now being felt by Burlington&rsquos growing population, Howard recognized the need for suitable and ample music hall. 6 He must have also felt the need not to disrupt the economic heart of the city, as the four-story structure was designed to have stores fronting Church Street on the ground level and the theater, accessed by an entrance on Bank Street, occupied fully the upper three stories. Construction began in November 1877 and was hailed as the &ldquomost massive and substantial ever laid in this city&rdquo, assuring that &ldquothe style will excel anything of the kind in Burlington.&rdquo 7 Construction was completed in February of 1879 and the Burlington Free Press proudly proclaimed that &ldquoa more tasteful and elegant music hall is possessed by no American city.&rdquo 8 The structure certainly was larger than any building in Burlington at the time, 175 feet long and 70 wide, and rising 65 feet above the street level and at the time of its construction had hipped roof, painted bright red, rising 20 feet further. The theatre itself occupied much of this volume being 129 feet in length, 76 in width, 40 in height and seating between 1300 and 1400 patrons. 9 Perhaps the laudatory tone of the local papers is best understood by reading the article and visual understanding by examining a photo [Fig 24], but it&rsquos important to note that this building was intended to be a wholly modern one in style and systems, as its commercial block-cum-public space is a fresh idea in American architecture and the interior was gas lit by extensive system of lamp and heated by steam. 10
Fig. 25. The Howard Opera House and adjacent 157 Bank Street viewed from north side of Bank Street, circa 1960s. Fig. 26. The Bank Street section of infill from some time between 1912 and 1919. Note the inconsistent fenestration and concrete sills, piers and keystones to the left, and those of stone to the right.
The perceived importance of it is also attested to by the fact that local merchants were interested in occupying the space during the course of construction, and judging from the stability afforded to many of the businesses located within this block, its importance as an economic hub is clear. 11 In the first quarter century of its existence, the street level housed many tenants including the dry goods store Lyman & Allen, who had been established on Church Street since the 1868, clothiers, Smith & Pease, whose &ldquoBlue Store&rdquo was founded as early as 1875 and dry goods store the Old Bee Hive, founded in 1855. 12 All these stores occupied other locations on Church Street and chose to occupy this newly constructed and evidently desirable location. The largeness of the building seemed suited dry goods and department stores and many businesses have had remarkably long tenures in the Opera House&rsquos shops.
During this time, John Purple Howard was unwilling to let any of this property go to waste and built another commercial building just west of the Opera House in 1880. A simple brick Italianate structure of three stories, it originally had two stores fronting Bank Street with tenements above. 13 Sometime between 1912 and 1919, the small amount of space separating this block from the Opera House was finally infilled [Fig. 25]. 14 While the style is consistent, this is evident today not only by the break in rhythm of the fenestration on the street façade but most clearly by the difference in sills and lintels on these windows: the original windows have ones made of stone, while the infilled windows have ones of concrete, as seen in Fig. 26.
Fig. 27. The Howard Opera House between 1973 and 1991 with the wrap-around arcaded facade installed by Magram's when they occupied the majority of the building.
The most remarkable aspect of this building&rsquos early history however, is that, after his death, John P. Howard willed the entire structure to the Home of Destitute Children. 15 This way the Home, which had struggled financially in the past and had previously been the recipients of financial gifts from Howard and his sister Louisa, would be able to have steady financial footing from the revenues of the Opera House and the rents from the stores' tenants. It was a remarkable gesture at the end of Mr. Howard&rsquos life. It&rsquos worth noting that the Home for Destitute Children is the predecessor of today&rsquos Howard Center, a non-profit providing mental health, disability and substance abuse services for adults, children and families in Burlington and its environs, and is aptly named in honor of his family&rsquos generosity. 16
The Howard Opera House&rsquos life as an Opera House only last a quarter of a century. Due to rising fire insurance rates on the structure during the 1890s, the Opera House was forced to stage its last performance on November 30th, 1904. 17 The theatre&rsquos closing opened up an incredible amount of volume in the building for new commercial ventures and by the spring interior girders were in place and sleepers being laid to divide up the former theatre into more useful space. 18 Shortly thereafter the building&rsquos once distinctive red roof was removed and replaced with a flat roof like the one we see today [Fig. 23]. 19 This extra space several stores to expand upwards. The Old Bee Hive was tripled in size, W.G. Reynolds, successor to Lyman & Allen occupying the corner spot became one of &ldquothe largest of its kind in New England outside the big cities,&rdquo and E.E. Clarkson&rsquos dry goods store added tailoring and millinery departments. 20 All these firms, in addition to the Blue Store, would remain occupying the former Opera House for decades to come. 21 One particularly fateful change in business would alter the building significantly. In 1943, Barney Magram would become a partner in The Fashion Shop, founded in 1914 by Max Glass, and move it from 52 Church to W.G. Reynold&rsquos vacated corner sport. After rising to sole owner in 1952, Barney would add his surname to the business and over the next 40 years the Magram's name would become synonymous with the Howard Opera House. Barney passed in 1969, after which his son-in-law and successor Murray Daitchman expanded the store to 55,000 square feet within the old Opera House. 22 We can see in Fig. 27 that he also set about to completely overhaul the façade, creating simple arcade of travertine marble around the ground level of the building. 23 The store at its height would cover 90,000 square feet within the building and was a commercial landmark in the city.
Fig. 28. The Howard Opera House's Church Street facade as it appeared in September 2018. Note the thinner windows to the right, curiously the only bay on the facade with these more slender windows. Photograph by the author.
The contraction of the business coinciding with the advent of the Church Street Marketplace and competition from other department stores would eventually lead Magram&rsquos, who had owned the building, to sell it off in 1989 to two local businessmen, Nord Brue and Michael Dressell, founders of Breugger&rsquos Bagels. As mentioned earlier, they would open up a bagel shop in 95 Church Street, while Magram&rsquos would consolidate their business to the two bottom floors, while Dressel used the rest as administrative space for Bruegger&rsquos and his other companies. 24 Magram&rsquos downsizing was foretelling of its fate, but it&rsquos ultimate closing in January 1991 opened the door for the new owners to rethink the space and they did so in historical terms. A 9-month, 5-million-dollar renovation replaced Magram&rsquos wrap-around white arcade and crafted a more historically accurate façade with separate store fronts with iron cornices facing Church Street [Fig. 28]. 25 The building looked historically more cohesive than it had in years and this has persisted to this day, as has the original arrangement of five distinct store fronts, coupled with office space in the upper floors, occupying the space of the building&rsquos long-gone namesake, the Howard Opera House.