Photographer: Date taken: Houses in view:
Kempton Randolph
Sep. 17, 2005
138, 137, 136, 133 and 132 North Winooski Ave.
Looking: Global position UTM:
18T 0642228, 4927276

Looking south down North Winooski Avenue in 2005, a very different picture presents itself than the one Lewis McAllister saw in 1929 despite the fact that the buildings lining its streets all remain intact and relatively unchanged.

The brick, gable-front, two-and-a-half story house on the right side of the street closest to the camera, 137 North Winooski Avenue, has gone through few changes besides new paint since 1929. The house has been painted a light blue, and the trim a bright white, and aluminum storm windows have been added over the original two-over-two sash. The house still remains divided into apartments.

On the surface 133 North Winooski Avenue looks nothing like its former self, in fact it looks nothing like a house at all. Climbing vines have completely swallowed the entire residence, even obscuring several windows and the hooded entryway. However, underneath this verdant veil, it appears very little has changed. The house, as most on this street, has also retained its original slate roof.

Across the avenue at 132, the greatest changes at this house occurred to the porch. Its second floor has been glassed in and converted to a sleeping porch and the once turned columns have either been replaced or boxed in with square boards. The flared shingled roof that separated the two stories of the porch has been replaced with flush boards. Aluminum storm windows, flashing on the roof eaves, vinyl siding and undersized plastic shutters round out the building’s alterations.

The next closest building, 136 North Winooski Avenue, is also much its former self. The exterior alterations have been minimal and follow a similar pattern of change that many of the buildings in Burlington’s Old North End have undergone. Aluminum storm windows cover the old two-over-two sash. The turned porch columns and railings were replaced at some point by square-milled stock. And the original clapboards replaced with vinyl siding. But because of the contrasting trim colors, the house from a distance looks nearly identical to its former self.

While most of the buildings along this stretch of North Winooski Avenue have remained residential homes, and have marched through a relatively ordinary and uneventful existence, #138 has filled many roles since its construction as a firehouse. After serving as the headquarters for the Franco-American Legion through the 1930s, the building housed a furniture store briefly for a year[1] before becoming the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in 1935.[2] All through World War II, this building housed the VFW until 1947.[3] Beginning in 1949, for the next decade Alcoholics Anonymous called the old firehouse home.[4] In 1960 a local theatre troup called Theatre Club Inc. was based here and used the building for erecting stage sets and as a practicing space[5] for the shows they put on in various theatres. From 1970 onward the building would house a variety of businesses including engraving shop, paint store, medical supply store, bridal shop, and most recently a temp agency.[6] Other than aluminum storm windows and an aluminum swinging front door, the building probably looks more like the firehouse it once was, now that the projecting entranceway has been removed, than it did in 1929.

By far the biggest loss to North Winooski Avenue, and much of the rest of Burlington, has been its elms. The disappearance of these trees has had the greatest visual impact on the street and mostly account for the radically different feel the scene has today. Where the elms have not been replaced by small maples, the street feels bare and sun-baked when compared with the 1929 photographs. Where maples do poke up through the sidewalk, they serve mainly to block the view of the houses from the road, and do little to provide shade, never mind any type of canopy. Despite the best efforts of city arborists, it will take decades to even come close to visually replacing the majestic elm that once so pleasantly framed Burlington’s city streetscapes.

1. Burlington City Directory for 1934, including Winooski and Essex Junction (Burlington, Vt: H. A. Manning, 1934).

2. Burlington City Directory for 1935, including Winooski and Essex Junction (Burlington, Vt: H. A. Manning, 1935).

3. Burlington City Directory for 1947, including Winooski and Essex Junction (Burlington, Vt: H. A. Manning, 1947).

4. Burlington City Directory for 1949, including Winooski and Essex Junction (Burlington, Vt: H. A. Manning, 1949).

5. Burlington City Directory for 1960, including Winooski, South Burlington, Essex Junction (Burlington, Vt: H. A. Manning, 1960).

6. "Theatre Club Proposes to Lease, Perhaps Buy, Old Star Hose Room," Burlington Free Press, November 24, 1959.

Click to view this street scene in 1928, or in 1929

Back to the intersection between North Winooski Ave. and North St.

North Winooski Avenue North of North Avenue

Historic Burlington Project
Burlington 1890 | Burlington 1877 | Burlington 1869 | Burlington 1853 | Burlington 1830

Produced by University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program graduate students
in HP 206 Researching Historic Structures and Sites - Prof. Thomas Visser
in collaboration with UVM Landscape Change Program
Historic images courtesy of Louis L. McAllister Photograph Collection University of Vermont Library Special Collections