Center Ward

by Rebecca Williams

The former "Center Ward" of Burlington forms a rough rectangle running east-west through the center of the city. Its boundaries extend from the west side of the University of Vermont's Green along what is now South Prospect Street (appropriately named Green Street in 1869), north to Pearl Street, south to Main Stret, and west to the four easternmost blocks of Church Street. The period between 1853 and 1869 was a time of growth and prosperity in Burlington. The railroad, shipping, and lumber industries brought jobs, provided materials and ways to bring those materials to market. By the early 1850s, the commerical district had moved to the blocks surrounding Church Street. Consequently, new commercial blocks were going up along Church Street, fortunes were made (and soon lost in the depression of the next decade), and those who made their fortunes were building elaborate homes in the "hill section" of the growing city. By 1869, the deep gorge than ran diagonally northeast to southwest and looping back to the waterfront was in the process of being filled and the Vermont Central Railroad that ran through it had been discontinued. Parishoners at the newly completed Third Congregational Church (now the College Street Congregational Church) on the edge of the gully no longer had to cross a bridge on College Street to reach services. The 1860s construction boom foreshadowed the late nineteenth century subdivision of some of the larger blocks of the Ward into smaller ones by the addition of several east-west streets and a north-south segment that joined South Union Street (then Union Street) to what is now North Union Street (then Maiden Lane), making a continuous Union Street corridor. In general, moving east to west across the section in 1869, the building use transitioned from residential to ecclesiastic and civic to commercial and light industrial. This pattern remains largely unchanged today.

site plan


Streets with Surviving 1853-1869 structures:

Center Street

9 Center Street

13-15 Center Street


Cherry Street

144-148 Cherry Street


Church Street

30-32 Church Street

38-60 CHurch Street

80-82 Church Street

84 Church Street

142-144 Church Street


College Street

Free Press Buildings

Baxter's Block

Beach's Bakery

College Street Congregational Church

Stephen L. Herrick House (347-349)

Bennett Turk House (368)


Main Street

Captain Daniel Lyon's House (300-302)


South Willard Street

Congregational Church Parsonage (71)


South Williams Street

A. G. Strong House (70)


South Winooksi Avenue

Daniel kern House (70-72)



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