18 Pearl Street

circa 1850


by Nate Bailly

Though significantly altered, 18 Pearl Street maintains a very similar footprint to that of the 1853 Presdee & Edwards map. Its gable front orientation and three bay fenestration are all that remains of its Greek Revival roots. The new commercial façade does a good job of hiding the original. The porch on the easterly side of the building is clearly a later addition.

This house and many like it were built on the lower section of Pearl Street to accommodate middle class families from 1850-1900. There was a great amount of pressure to adapt these homes to commercial uses even after the Civil War. Increased demand for local stores and the area's proximity to Church Street caused this Section of Pearl to become an extension of Burlington's business district.(1)

From 1868-1890, 18 Pearl Street was the home of William Wirt Henry, a famous Vermont Civil War general. Colonel Henry and his soldiers of the Tenth Vermont Division participated in the battles of Monocacy, Cold Harbor, Tolopotomy Creek, North Anna, Spotsylvania, and Wilderness.(2) In the Battle of Cedar Creek, Henry was awarded the Medal of Honor. It was reported that "At the sound of the first volley, the Tenth had fallen into line, and now, seeing guns in danger, moved in to quickly head off the rebels. The Confederates recoiled before the fire of the Vermonters, and the Vermonters brought off the guns by hand."(3) The building now houses a credit union and a number of apartment units.

(1) United States National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Inventory: Battery-King St. Historic District, 1976-1978.
David Blow, Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods (Burlington: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 38.
(3) Louis Morton, "Vermonters at Cedar Creek," Vermont History 33 (1965): 336.

Photo: Nate Bailly
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