58-60 Park-Smith House
by Doug Porter
Of the properties on the Ammi Young map located near the Battery north of Pearl, all but one had disappeared by 1857.1 The remaining building stood at the corner of Park and Sherman Streets. The building currently occupying that site is the gable-roofed brick home of Frederick Smith. Smith came to Burlington in 1827. At that time there were not more than a half dozen houses north of Pearl Street, most of these along North Street and inhabited by people of color.2 The year Smith arrived, Dr. John Peck and Professor James Dean3 opened the Champlain Glass Company, the "first extensive manufacturing concern in the town". Construction of the dozen or so buildings was begun that same year.4The factory covered an area of two acres and employed about 100 people. Smith took over the Champlain Glass Works from 1834 until 1850, when the factory became unprofitable due to the high cost of fuel and was closed. During Smith's tenure, the glassworks operated under several different names, according to Smith's partner(s) at the time: Loomis, Smith & Co.; Janes, Smith Co.; Wilkins & Landon; and Smith & Wilkins. The main product was window glass. The glass business was the primary reason for development of the town in this direction.
It is not known whether Smith built the house at 58 & 60 Park Street, or whether it was already on the site and corresponds to the structure shown on the Young map. The old construction materials still extant in the cellar and attic along with the eaves-forward orientation, splayed window lintels, and elliptical gable vents suggest a construction date prior to 1830.5Smith eventually subdivided his glass works property and laid out Park and Front Streets across the site. In an 1839 survey by John Johnson, the neighborhood north of the battery was referred to as "Glassville".6 Smith lived in the house while he developed the Pioneer Mechanics Shops in the 1850s,7 and died there in 1892. The house was converted to a duplex in 1917, when it likely acquired its present form.
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1 As indicated on the Walling map of 1857.
2 Rann, History of Chittenden County Vermont, 419.
3 Hemenway, Vermont Historical Gazetteer, vol 1, 522. Dean was the first instructor to be hired at the college aside from its president, Mr. Daniel C. Sanders.
4 The glassworks was established on the old Battery campsite in 1827, and the John Johnson papers contain some of the original buildings.
5 The National Register nomination lists a construction date of circa 1840. This attribution is clearly based on the presence of early materials and is not intended as an accurate determination of the age of the building.
6 John Johnson Papers, Special Collections, Bailey-Howe Library, University of Vermont: Folder 1, map 24.
7 Rann, History of Chittenden County Vermont, 425. Prior to rail travel, nearly all the shipping between the interior of the state and the rest of the world took place through Burlington Harbor. The creation of a lumber market in Burlington after the arrival of the railroad more than made up for business lost with the waning og the shipping industry on Lake Champlain. The Pioneer Mechanics' Shop was organized to promote the development of new (and mostly lumber-related) industries in Burlington, the idea being to erect buildings, outfit them with machinery, and then rent them to mechanics and manufacturers in need of space and equipment. See also Hemenway, Vermont Historical Gazetteer, vol 1, 514.
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