The Chittenden County Superior Courthouse in Burlington, Vermont was built in 1906 and is one of the most bold architectural designs in the city. The building was actually constructed as the U.S. Post Office and Custom House for Burlington, but changed use in the 1980s after the Old County Courthouse was destroyed by fire. The building was the work of U.S. Treasury architect James Knox Taylor. Taylor designed, many major eastern federal buildings during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He provided plans for this Beaux Arts structure with a well-appointed exterior finished in marble and dressed granite. Beaux-Arts architecture depended on sculptural decoration along conservative modern lines, blossoming in the United States in the early 20th century after many American architects studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century.
The Burlington Savings Bank building, constructed in 1900, is one of the most architecturally sophisticated buildings in Downtown Burlington, Vermont. The design uses a brick and brownstone facade with prominent wall dormers and a corner tower with conical roof which harkens back to the chateaus and estates of Europe. The recessed corner entrance is framed by free-standing Ionic columns which support a brownstone segmental arch, which helps command the corner presence. The Burlington Savings Bank opened for business on January 1, 1848, and operated under that title until 1988 when it merged with the Bank of Boston to become the Bank of Vermont, which in 1995, was purchased by KeyBank. The corner building is now occupied by Citizens Bank, which continues this buildings legacy as a castle of finance in the city.
One of the largest, most grand buildings in Downtown Burlington, Vermont is its City Hall building, constructed in 1928, just before the Great Depression. The brick facade with extensive carved marble trim is Neo-classical in style, with virtually all the finish materials – brick, marble, roofing slate, and granite produced in Vermont. The building replaced the 1850s City Hall, which was poorly constructed and suffered from deterioration, exacerbated by an earthquake in 1925. Architect William M. Kendall was hired to complete the designs of the large, bold Classical building. Kendall spent his career with the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, the leading American architectural practice at the turn of the century, and showcased the best of that firm with the design of this building.
Jonesville Academy, located in the village of Jonesville in Richmond, Vermont is a large wooden school building constructed in the Italianate style around 1868 . It is remarkable for its high-style in a rural setting with its engaged center entrance tower, and ornate Italianate bracketing. Jonesville Academy was one of nine schools in the town of Richmond, and operated as a high school for this village. The village of Jonesville also included a railroad station, hotel , hardware stores, several mills, and homes. The village dwindled in the mid-20th century after WWII, and the town consolidated schools as buses and personal automobile made traveling to school much easier. The town deaccessioned the school and it was acquired by a private citizen for use as a personal residence, a use it retains to this day. Oh to see the interior of this baby!
Gothic Revival homes in New England are not as common as Greek Revival or Italianate homes built in the mid-19th century, so when I find one, I make sure to snap a picture. This home in Richmond, Vermont was built around 1850 for Orson Goodrich (1808-1877), likely after the death of his first wife, Ann in 1849. Goodrich was a farmer who had a large property off the Main Street, which likely ran all the way to the Winooski River. The house is an excellent example of Carpenter Gothic, a wooden Gothic Revival home which has decorative bargeboards at the roof (which look like icicles in the snow), pierced wooden columns at the porch, and a lancet window at the second floor gable end. The home was such a statement piece, that the home was one of a handful of buildings portrayed in the 1857 Map of Chittenden County, Vermont. After Orson Goodrich died in 1877 (outliving his second wife), with no children living to adulthood, the property was sold off and subdivided for new housing in the 1880s. Today, the home retains much of its original detailing, but could use some sprucing up.
The Richmond Congregational Church, built in 1903, is one of the most prominent architectural landmarks in town. The church desired a new place of worship by the end of the 19th century, to replace the outdated 1850s building. Significantly, the building of this 1903 structure corresponded with a period of prosperity for Richmond, generated in large part by the advent of the Richmond Underwear Company in 1900. The Company had come to Richmond at the behest of local officials and business leaders, who provided the company with financial incentives in the hope of fostering economic opportunity, which it did. Additional housing for workers was built on the former church land, and money from the sale helped the congregation get enough funding to hire an architect to furnish plans. The Richmond Congregational Church was designed by one of the few professionally-trained architects working in Vermont at the turn of the century. Walter R. B. Willcox (1869-1947) was a Burlington, Vermont, native who was trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. He eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest and continued his career there.
The Old Round Church in Richmond, Vermont, was built in 1812-13 under the direction of local craftsman William Rhodes to be the Town Meeting Hall and place of worship for members of five denominations in the area. While the church is known as the Old Round Church, it is actually a sixteen-sided polygon, but I think it is safe to say the Old Round Church sounds better than the Old Hexadecagon Church… Traditionally, 18th- and 19th-century meetinghouses were rectangular in form and many followed popular builders’ pattern books which standardized the rectangular Wren-Gibbs architectural type. Experimentation was generally limited to decorative detail, steeples, porches or the orientation of the entrance, and not to the form, which is why this building is so unique. Within a few decades of the church’s opening, the founding denominations began to move out, some of them to build worship places elsewhere in town. In 1880, the Old Round Church reverted to the Town of Richmond and continued in use as the town’s meeting hall until 1973, at which time safety concerns forced its closure to the public.The Richmond Historical Society was formed in 1973, shortly before the church had to be closed and in 1976, the town deeded the church to the society, who then gathered funds to restore the building, protecting it from a much darker future. The Old Round Church remains one of the most unique architectural designs in Vermont and is always a treat to drive by in all seasons!
The Richmond Underwear Company in Richmond, Vermont was formed in 1900, in response to a drive by the citizens of town to attract a business to the town by means of financial inducement. In 1900, residents here raised several thousand dollars to entice two businessmen from Upstate New York to establish a plant for the
manufacture of women’s and children’s muslin underwear. The factory was built in a former apple orchard just north of the main strip in seven months and soon after, became one of Vermont’s largest manufacturers of underwear, employing 160 people at its peak (mostly women). This new company resulted in an influx of workers, and a building boom in the town, and it became the first building in the town to be fitted with steam heat and electrical power. After WWII, the factory was occupied by Gilman Paper Co., who manufactured paper to use for the backing of rugs, but later became know as Cellucord. After that, the building was occupied by various companies and craftsmen until it was restored in the early 1990s and now houses offices.
This two-story brick schoolhouse was built in 1907 for town growing along the river in Richmond, Vermont. The town’s history goes back thousands of years ago when indigenous people lived here during the Archaic period from 9,500 to 3,000 years ago. The Winooski River, which runs through the town today, was also a common highway for the Abenaki Tribe after 1,000 A.D. between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River. European settlement of Vermont did not begin until the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War in 1763. Richmond was eventually granted township status in 1794 when the Vermont Legislature combined parts of nearby towns to form the new town. The town grew mostly as an agricultural village until the 19th century, when the Winooski River was harnessed for power. The town grew over the years, surviving large town center fires and floods over the years. As was the case with many small Vermont towns, Richmond’s population began a steady decline during the Great Depression. The trend was reversed in the 1960s as a result of new regional employers coming into the area. The school here was outgrown and built a new school in town in that period of growth and converted to the Town Hall, showing a great example of adaptive reuse in small town New England.