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Johnson House

Johnson House originally stood at the corner of Main Street and University Place where the University of Vermont's Morrill Hall now stands.

Built for Moses Catlin in 1806 as part of a twenty-two acre farm, it was sold to John Johnson, Vermont's first surveyor, in 1809. Johnson was an accomplished and prolific designer and engineer who oversaw the construction of numerous important buildings and bridges in the northern Vermont area, including Grasse Mount (1804) and Old Mill (1824-9) in Burlington.

The 1830 Ammi B. Young map of Burlington shows the house as an L-shaped structure with a outbuildings attached to the southeast corner and just to the east. These features are shown in more detail on an 1843 map by Edwin Johnson. The image above from UVM Special Collections shows the building as it appeared around 1880 at its original location facing the UVM Green.

The house remained in the Johnson-Allen family with only minor changes until 1906, when the property was aquired by the University of Vermont and the building was moved to its present location on Main Steet. The house was remodeled as a living quarters for farmhands working on the nearby University Farm. (See the image below from UVM Archives.)

The UVM Agronomy Department was housed here from 1928 to 1950. During this period, a greenhouse was added on the southest corner which is shown in the 1932 photo of Main Street below.

Main Street, looking west, 1932, showing 590 Main Street with greenhouse at right.
Photograph by Louis L. McAllister. Courtesy UVM Library Special Collections.

From 1950 to 1987, the building was used by the UVM School of Dental Hygiene. Since 1987, the building was used for a variety of uses, including offices for UVM Police Services, the UVM Historic Preservation Program's Visual Laboratory Project and the Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

In 2002, Johnson House became the home of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.

In July 2005, Johnson House was moved to its third location, across Main Street at the corner of University Heights at 617 Mian Street, to make way for the University's new Davis Student Center.