University of Vermont Buildings

Written by Eddie Gale for UVM's Bicentennial in 1991.

Adapted for WWW by Hope Greenberg on 9/23/94.

The University of Vermont's bicentennial echoes that of the state of Vermont. Similarly, an examination of UVM's building names echoes the fine deeds of many prominent Vermonters who have helped shape the course of history for the state and the nation. These Vermonters have been leaders in the fields of education, the arts, economic development and environmental conservation.

Aiken Hall

The AIKEN NATURAL RESOURCES BUILDING is named after George Aiken of Putney, a former governor of Vermont and long time U.S. Senator. Aiken ran one of the largest plant nurseries in New England, and an early campaign event of his was to travel the garden club circuit with his wildflower slide show.

A conservationist with a sound respect for a gardener's competition with nature, Aiken dedicated his 1933 botanical field guide, Pioneering with Wildflowers, to Peter Rabbit, ". . .in the hope that flattery will accomplish what traps and guns have failed to do, and that the little rascal will let our plants alone from this time on." During the Aiken Lecture Series at UVM in 1982, Aiken presented a copy of this book to then Secretary of the Interior James Watt, ". . .in the hopes that [he] might learn something."

Morrill Hall

Justin Morrill of Strafford did not receive a formal education past the age of 15, yet he has a building named after him on almost every land grant university campus in the country. Morrill was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1854 to 1866, and was the author of the 1862 Morrill Land Grant College Act. The 1862 Act set aside proceeds from the sale of public lands in the west and dedicated money to each state to set up a state agricultural college.

As a tribute to his commitment to higher education, as well as the longevity of his service in Congress, Senator Morrill sponsored the second Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1890. The 1890 Act established state agricultural colleges for black students in the south; nineteen of these institutions exist in the 1990s.

John Dewey Hall

John Dewey Hall is named after the noted educator and UVM alumnus from Burlington. John Dewey was a renowned philosopher and psychologist who pioneered the notion that education must begin with experience. Dewey felt schools need to promote an active learning atmosphere, and also that a strong democracy means encouraging a diversity of opinions and opportunities to enlarge the experience of all society's members.

Woodstock is the home of two prominent Vermonters who have influenced both the building of the university and that of the nation. George Perkins Marsh, the author of Man and Nature, was one of the nation's first conservationists and the first to point out the detrimental effects of timber clear-cutting. Marsh was also a congressman who helped found the Smithsonian Institute, and he served as both an ambassador to Turkey and Italy. The MARSH LIFE SCIENCES BUILDING is named in his honor in recognition of Marsh's contributions to the philosophy that man must be a steward of the natural world.

Billings Student Center (formerly library)

Frederick Billings was a Woodstock lawyer and UVM alumnus (class of 1844) who made his way west to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. He was one of the first lawyers in Northern California and earned a small fortune in legal fees and real estate deals. He was instrumental in saving the Northern Pacific Railroad from bankruptcy, and Billings, Montana bears his name.

Billings later returned to Woodstock, where he purchased George Perkins Marsh's personal library from Marsh's wife after his death for $250,000. Billings then donated Marsh's library collection to UVM and built the BILLINGS LIBRARY (now the BILLINGS STUDENT CENTER) to house it.

Billings is perhaps UVM's most famous building, designed by the reknowned architect H.H. Richardson.

Bailey/Howe Library

The BAILEY/HOWE LIBRARY is named after two native Vermonters. Guy W. Bailey was born in Hardwick and moved to Essex at an early age. He graduated from UVM in 1900, engaged in politics and was elected Vermont Secretary of State. He then became the President of the University of Vermont, a post he held for 20 years.

David Howe, the longtime publisher of the BURLINGTON FREE PRESS and founder of WJOY and WQCR (now WOKO) radio stations, was also one of the founders of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation. The GBIC was an instrumental force behind the economic revival of Chittenden County in the 1960's, a prosperity that continues today.

Proctor Maple Research Lab

The PROCTOR MAPLE RESEARCH LAB in Underhill was donated to the University by the Proctor family of Proctor, Vermont. The Proctor family founded the Vermont Marble Company, and four Proctors served as governor of Vermont. Redfield Proctor also had a profound influence on the federal government, serving as a U.S. Senator and as Secretary of War under President Benjamin Harrison.

Coolidge Hall

COOLIDGE HALL is not named after President Calvin Coolidge, but after his wife, Grace. The former Grace Goodhue was born in Burlington and was a UVM alumnus (class of 1902).

Many early Vermont residents were not native Vermonters, including Ira Allen (IRA ALLEN CHAPEL), the founder of the University, and Thomas Chittenden (CHITTENDEN HALL), the state's first Governor. ROYALL TYLER THEATER's namesake was born in Boston in the shadow of Faneuil Hall, but he moved to Guilford in 1791.

Royall Tyler Theater

Royall Tyler was a revolutionary war soldier, a Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, a UVM professor of jurisprudence, and is also considered to be the first American playwright. Tyler's comedy The Contrast marked the beginning of truly American theater. The serving man in the play, Jonathan, was the original stock Yankee character, noted for his combination of shrewdness and naivete. The title character in Our American Cousin, the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated, was a Vermonter named Asa Trenchard, a descendant of the fictional Jonathan.

Rowell Building

Some Vermonters have had the misfortune of being born across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. One, Lyman Rowell (ROWELL NURSING BUILDING), was a UVM president who was born in Colebrook, New Hampshire, across the river from Canaan, Vermont.

Despite stabilization of growth in the number of students attending the University, as we approach our 200th birthday party, planned for the fall of 1991, yet another building honoring a famous Vermonter is in the offering. Ground breaking for the Stafford Biotechnology Building is scheduled for Spring, 1991 and will honor Senator Robert T. Stafford. A native of the Rutland area, Senator Stafford served in the Vermont Legislature, as Governor, and most recently as United States Senator (1971 - 1988). This new building will celebrate the retired Senator's life long commitment to education and environmental integrity. We anticipate no decline in this form of UVM's honoring noted Vermonters in the tricentennial century.

The preceeding text was researched and written by Eddie Gale in 1991 as a part of the Center for Rural Studies Bicentennial Data Brief Series and posted to UVMTODAY on September 23, 1994.