According to the Burlington Historic Sites and Structures Survey (1) this two and a half story, three by two bay structure was built in 1860, in the Greek Revival style, gable-front, with a wood frame and brick veneer. It is typical of many domestic vernacular buildings of this era, though has increased significance in this context, as it is one of only two structures from this period remaining on the street.
There is a discrepancy between the 1869 Beers Atlas and 1869 Sanborn maps as to the exact location of the Gibbs building in relation to the neighboring W. Gibbs building, but structures of similar footprints, varying distances apart, appear on both maps. The 1889 and 1894 Sanborn maps match the relative locations of those shown on the 1869 Sanborn map, number 15 Centre Street. The footprint shown on both the 1869 maps, as well as the later maps, is however, clearly different than the footprint on the 1853 Presdee and Edwards map. Assuming this was originally the building Lemeul S. Drew owned, it seems to have been built between 1853 and 1869, based on the maps. It may be the structure on the 1862 map noted as "Nichols," though no Nichols appears at this address in the 1865-66 directory, the first directory available to reference.
The most thoroughly documented owner is Lemeul .S. Drew, manager
at the Van Ness House Hotel. Burlington land records for 1865-66
transfers include one for C. Miller to L.S. Drew, "house
and lot Catlin's Lane" (2), which seems to match the map
evidence. A Charles Miller was the proprietor of the American
Hotel where Gibbs was boarding at the time, so it is likely that
the two knew each other and that this is the C. Miller of the
land record. If so, building may have been built in 1860, but
not originally for Drew as the Sites and Structures Survey notes.
Drew does not appear to have ever lived here himself-in fact he
is not listed in the Burlington 1869-70 city directory at all.
This is supported by an article in the Burlington Free Press announcing
Mr. Drew's retirement from the hotel business (3). It mentioned
that in 1865 he sold his interest in the American House (the hotel
he owned after the Van Ness House) and moved to his farm on Spear
Street, known as the "Lake View Farm." The same article
also makes reference to his success as a landlord. The Survey
reports that it housed mainly "clerks and various white collar
workers." As it is listed as a dwelling on the 1869, 1889,
and 1894 Sanborn maps, this is a likely scenario, and would have
been appropriate to the character of the area at the time. From
about 1921 on its use shifted from residential to commercial,
with several businesses passing through over the years. Carpenters,
builders, shoe repair and print and photo shops were among the
most common. One long-term occupant was J. Benzion Black, and
at times his wife, Eva R Black, who were sign and poster artists
respectively, remaining there from about 1935 until 1960. During
the 1920s the addition on the north wall was also added to house
the Sikora Shoe Repair shop, which operated there, passing from
father to son, from about 1925 until the 1980s (4). Currently
it is the site of Ken's Golf Shop.
(1) Burlington Historic Sites and Structures Survey, Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1977.
(2) Burlington Town/City Records, Land Records, Box 5, 1865-66
land transfers book, pg 20.
(3) "A Pioneer Boniface, L.S. Drew of the Van Ness to Retire April 1" Burlington Free Press, March 26, 1892, page 5, column 4.
(4) Burlington City Directories, various years.
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