The Storrs House









 415 Pearl Street

This one-and-a-half story Federal residence languishes in a manner similar to that of the preceding structure; while clearly a rare example of early vernacular architecture in Burlington, it is (quite literally) overshadowed by UVM's monumental edifices. The HSS is careful to point out that "few examples of the simpler, wood-frame, 'cape cod' house type such as this one, still stand in the city," while many impressive high-style Federal types are still extant (1). A similar acknowledgment concerning the ca. 1815 building is made by the National Register of Historic Places. Although 415 Pearl Street was entered on the National Register in 1974 as part of the University Green Historic District, no description was included in that nomination. A later inventory corrected the lapse with the explanation that the structure was "clearly within the boundaries of that district" (2).

The earliest known occupant was Orvis Storrs, who first appears at the address in 1875 (3). Prior house residents were difficult to trace, as the 1857 Wallings Map and 1869 Beers Atlas offer contradictary evidence. N. Stevens (or N. Stearns, according to the later map) owned various lots on this block, and appeared to have rented the house to a Mrs. Stevens in 1857, and to a Mrs. Slocum in 1869 (4). Since the information is so haphazard, it seems more prudent to assert Storrs as the first permanent occupant. This seems to have been Storrs' first home, as earlier city directory entries trace his many previous dwellings. The twenty-five years of his occupancy show his consistent employment in the food industry, with jobs ranging from butcher to clerk. At one point, Orvis and his father operated as fish and oyster dealers from a shop on Church Street. The profession was apparently the preferred family trade, as evidenced by the advertisement from the 1886 city directory shown above. After his death in 1920, his wife Louise retained the house briefly, moving to North Winooski Avenue in 1924.

Harry J. Preston, a commercial traveler, was the next resident and presumably presided over the conversion of the house to a multi-dwelling unit. In 1932, a sales manager named Holger Sorensen lived in a portion of the house, with John J. Conway and James A. Pickett rounding out the decade's occupants. After a year of vacancy in 1940, music teacher Helen Van Buren moved in. The following year, Chaucey and Mary Perry also arrived. According to the HSS, the Perrys were the current owners of the dwelling at the time of the survey. It seems probable that with Harry Preston's death in 1944, the Perrys purchased the property. Interestingly, almost two decades went by without a change in residence. Not until Lottie Preston, Harry's widow, died in 1960 did the resident configuration change. Van Buren also vacated the property in the 1960s, when the transition of the house from permanent dwelling to semi-temporary dwelling seems to have occurred. The Perrys retained their residence and ownership for the next few decades, and the house was rented out to a sequence of nurses, medical students, and employees of the nearby hospital.

In the course of all of this change, some alterations were made to the house. Surprisingly, however, there is little evidence of the deterioration that normally follows when a family residence is converted to student apartments. Details like a replacement front door and stairs, as well as the addition of an eastern ell, have been executed with care and have not compromised the building's historical integrity.


 (1) Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey (Montpelier, Vermont: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1973).
 (2) National Register of Historic Places Inventory--Nomination Form. (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1970).

 (3) Burlington City Directory. All information concerning the residents of this structure taken from the 1868 to 1980 directory.

(4) Wallings Map, Chittenden County; Beers Atlas, Chittenden County.