Currently owned by the University of Vermont and occupied by the Philosophy Department, this Federal with Greek Revival influences, load-bearing brick, hip-roofed building is known as the A.G. Strong residence. According to the Burlington Historic Sites and Structures Survey (1), more of the building's classical elements remain in the interior than on the exterior. Its roof may have once sported a cupola, as evidenced in the 1877 Birdseye View of Burlington Map. At least one of the building's side wings was added around 1900. A Greek Revival porch spans the width of the front and part of the north facade, but otherwise the house maintains a clean, sharp look.
Although it traditionally bears his name, A.G. Strong was not the original builder of the house. According to the Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods (2), it was built for P.S. Peak (alternately spelled Peake) and sold to Mr. Strong in the fall of 1867. This is supported by Mr. Peake's ad in the September 14, 1867 Daily Free Press :
This transfer also appears in the Burlington Town/City Land records, with a notation in the 1867-1868 book that a land transfer occurred between P.S. Peake and A.G. Strong, "Homestead, William St" (4). The Burlington Neighborhood Guide adds that Mr. Strong paid $12,000 for the property in September of 1867 (5). So although the Burlington Historic Sites and Structures Survey says the house was built in 1868, it is more accurate to say that it was built after 1857 but before 1867 (it is not on 1857 Wallings Map of Chittenden County, but on the 1869 Beers Atlas map).
The Strong family first appears in the Burlington City Directory in 1865-66, boarding at the American Hotel. The years 1867 and 1868 saw them boarding at the Central House. By 1869 they were settled into the house on what is now South Williams Street, and remained there until Mr. Strong's death in 1892 (5). A. G. Strong was a successful Burlington hardware dealer, later branching out to include paints, carriage hardware, and metals. A fire on January 15, 1857 destroyed his original store in the Strong Block, but he soon purchased the Leavenworth Block on College Street and prospered there until his death. He was also one of the original members of the Ethan Allen Engine Company and was described by Hon. George H. Bigelow as "the noblest fireman of them all" (6).
The 1893 City Directory lists E. Henry Powell, a Burlington attorney and co-owner of the Vermont Collection Agency) as the next occupant. Mrs. Strong (Jane L. Tyler of Shelburne) left to board on St. Paul Street (7). The Powells lived at 70 Williams Street for the next thirty-seven years. Henry Powell died in 1911, but Georgiana Powell remained nearly twenty more years, seemingly passing away in 1930. Despite her passing, the house did not stray far from its roots. A Mrs. Gertrude P. Morris first appeared in the city directories in 1924 as residing at (but not owning) the Strong House. When Mrs. Powell died, the property either passed to or was purchased by Mrs. Morris. She stayed for another five years (8). For the years 1936 and 1937, the city directories list for the house what appear to be renters, as Mrs. Morris is not listed, but reappears there for the last time in 1938. For the next two years, John G. Andrews, an assistant manager at the Sears Roebuck Company, occupied the house. The University of Vermont purchased the property in 1940, housing the Music Department until 1976 when the new music building was completed. The Philosophy Department now occupies the space.
(1) Burlington Historic Sites and Structures Survey, Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1977.
(2) Blow, David J., ed. Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods, Vol. 1, Chittenden County Historical Society, Queen City Printers, Burlington, VT , 1991, pg 113.
(3)"House and lot for sale," Burlington Daily Free Press, September 14, 1867, page 4, column 3.
(4) Burlington, VT, Town/City Records, Land Records, Carton 5, folder 27, pg 62, Land Records: Real Estate Transfers 1866-68.
(5) Burlington City Directory of 1892 notes that Albert G. Strong died June 18, 1892.
(6) "Death of Albert G. Strong, one of the oldest and best known Business Men of Burlington," Burlington Daily Free Press, January 19, 1892, page 2, column 3.
(7) Burlington City Directory, 1892.
(8) Burington City Directories, 19.