183 South Champlain Street

Gray's Carriage Works, c.1848


By Eliot H. Lothrop

Gray's Carriage Works was the factory for John K. Gray's prosperous carriage building business. Gray bought the lot in 1848 from Lyman B. Porter and built the factory shortly thereafter. Gray was the protégé of Simon Willard and Truman Seymour two of Burlington's first carriage-makers. Gray and John D. Perrigo took over Seymour's shop on Pearl Street when Seymour left Burlington in 1830. Perrigo died seven years later and Gray bought out the entire business, eventually moving to Champlain Street, right off of the railroad lines. Gray died in 1861 leaving his son Charles B. to run the business.1 It was soon more prosperous as ever, doing $16,000 worth of business a year, according to the 1870 census. The Carriage Works included a blacksmith's shop for the carriage's iron and five years worth of lumber stored in a separate building. The main building was turned into apartments in 1885 and by 1900 the lumber sheds and blacksmith shop were gone.2


The large brick structure that remains today would have been the manufactory in which the blacksmith shop would have been housed. Although the storage sheds, to the West of the manufactory, have been destroyed, the manufactory itself remains largely intact. It is a seven bay building with its long eave side facing Champlain Street. Two large parapet walls extend on the gable ends to bring the height of the building to four stories. The heavy stone lintels and sills remain as well. At the far western edge of the parking lot that now sits behind the apartments, it is still possible to see the stone foundation of the lumber sheds and blacksmith shop. The old stone is directly underneath a layer of tar and in some places the wooden sills also remain.

1 Blow, David. Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods. Chittenden Co. Historical Society: Burlington, VT. P.100.
2 1900 Sanborn Insurance map. Burlington, VT Bailey-Howe Library Special Collections, UVM.
3 Gray's Carriage Works, late 1800s. Courtesy of Bailey-Howe Library Special Collection, UVM.
4 Burlington City Directory. Bailey-Howe Library Special Collections, UVM.