Main Street: 590 Main and Vicinity
#180643581E; 492617N

Louis L. McAllister
September 1, 1933

Sarah L. Graulty
October 15, 2006
Louis McAllister took this photograph on September 1, 1933 to document a portion of Main Street on the crest of the bill, looking west-northwest towards Burlington. The tall and full elm trees cast a thick shadow on the road, which McAllister's caption explains will soon be widened and resurfaced. On the right is 590 Main Street, known as the Johnson House. This Federal-style house was built in 1806 for Moses Catlin as part of a large farm at what is now Main Street and University Place. The building was sold to John Johnson, Vermont's first surveyor and an important figure in Vermont's architectural history, in 1809. Johnson House appears in some detail on several nineteenth-century Burlington maps. The University of Vermont acquired it in 1906 and moved it to its above location, 590 Main Street, to make room for Morrill Hall (built 1904-07 and obscured by trees above). At this point, Johnson House was remodeled to serve as housing for workers at the nearby University Farm. In 1928, the University's agronomy department moved into the building and the greenhouse visible in the above photo was added.
Today, this area is dominated by the University. The towering trees have been replaced with lamp posts, traffic lights, and buildings. To the right, in the distance, one now clearly sees Morrill Hall, a large and imposing building, but a structure that is all but dwarfed by the new Dudley H. Davis Student Center, under construction in the foreground. The Johnson House, prominent in McAllister's photograph, is absent here. After the University of Vermont Agronomy Department moved out in 1950, the School of Dental Hygiene was installed until 1987. For the next twenty years, Johnson House has served a variety of purposes. On July 9, 2005, the University moved the building once again so that the Davis Student Center, scheduled to open in September 2007, would have room to be built on the north side of the street. Some time before that, the building's greenhouse was removed.
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Historic Burlington Project
Depression Era Streetscapes: Old North End | 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 University of Vermont Library Special Collections, Louis L. McAllister Photograph Collection