Willard Street is named after Dubartis Willard, a "wheelwright, blacksmith and poet" (1) who lived at the corner of Pearl and Willard Streets in the first quarter of the 19th century. When it was established, the street extended south from Pearl Street, overlooking the Burlington settlement.
Willard Street, in 1830, was somewhat outside of Burlington. Up on the hill, it was a place for the wealthy to establish their estates. All of the surviving houses were once surrounded by large tracts of landscaped grounds. They also all belonged to prominent families of the early 19th century. The original owners of the surviving houses were involved in various occupations including law, the army, manufacturing and commerce. In 1830, these were the richest citizens of Burlington, and they socialized very much together. Intermarriage between these prominent families was a result of this, inextricably linking the history of the houses surviving from 1830.
Over the years, Willard Street was slowly incorporated into the city. As population grew and moved up the hill, the grand estates of Willard Street were slowly subdivided, leaving but the houses. The streets around these buildings appeared, sometimes even established by the house owners themselves (such as Hungerford and Buell streets, established by Rev. Hungerford after his death (2).) North Willard, the extension of South Willard north of Pearl Street, was laid out in 1888 (3). As the surrounding streets were established and more people moved into the area, the economic profile changed. Houses lost their land and were converted to apartments or service buildings. However, the changes to the surviving buildings have been relatively minimal considering the change in use.
Today, from the street, the surviving structures from 1830
along the South Willard corridor are still striking in their appearance.
They constitute the centerpieces of the historic districts on
the hill; they give Burlington its character and reminds us if
Buildings surviving from 1830 along the Willard Street corridor: