9 Center Street
This McAllister photograph of Center Street, historically known as Catlins Lane, shows eleven men spreading loose asphalt aggregate over a section of the street(1). One additional man is seated on the steamroller to the right of the image, rolling the asphalt into a smooth continuous pavement. A concrete curb and gutter edge the street adjacent to a wide concrete sidewalk. Three buildings are clearly shown in the photograph-, including 191-195 Bank Street to the left, 207 Bank Street to the right, and 196 Bank mid-left. Overall, Center Street contains no vegetation and can be characterized by the expansive pavement and flanking buildings.
191-195 BANK STREET
191-195 Bank is a two story frame building whose east façade is punctuated by three doors and a block of windows on the first floor and four evenly spaced 1-over-1 windows on the second floor. A striped awning is drawn back over the door closest to Bank Street. Likely constructed during the late 19th century, the building was occupied by the H.W. Steadman, V.S.; Gregory Grain Co. and the O.K. Steam laundry in 1901(2). Later in 1931, the Patten, Irwin & White Hardware Store and the W.E. Greene Co were tenants of the building(3). However, by 1935 the building was destroyed, marked on the 1935 Sanborn map as a stone foundation, and labeled “H.W. Abraham.”(4) By 1942, the foundation remained, labeled, “Old foundation. Plank Floor Level with Ground.” (5)
207 BANK STREET
207 Bank Street is the Majestic Theater located at the southeast (right) corner of the intersection of Bank and Center Streets. The theater is a large brick building with plastered exterior walls with protruding piers and elaborate, oversized-cornice. One globe light fixture and a white door are also seen on the west façade of the building.
The movie theatre was constructed in 1911 by the , the W. Shelton Company, and opened on May 16, 1912(6). As Burlington’s first movie theater to show motion pictures, the opening performance sold out with tickets priced at 5 cents each(7). After opening day, ticket prices rose to 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children(8). The theater grew in its popularity and by the late 1920s, the theater had installed a large pipe organ, a new air system, and played the first talking movie in the city(9).
The popularity of the Majestic continued to increase throughout World Ward II as movies offered a way to escape the realities of war. New Year’s Day quickly became a popular event at the theater for local city newsboys, as local businessman John Flynn handed out free tickets to the Majestic on the first of the year(10). An annecdotal account of the New Years Day event, recalled, “If you missed the free tickets, you could always sneak into the Majestic. The side door was infamously easy and William Castle, the long-time doorman, smiled on children who lacked the money to pay their way in.”(11) During the 1940s, the Majestic Theater burned and sustained $30,000 in damage, but was soon remodeled afterwards, featuring better acoustics and faux-brown leather seats(12).
196 BANK STREET
The building located at 196 Bank Street was constructed between 1830 and 1853 and is a two-story, three bay frame dwelling with gable roof, central chimney and porch to the east(13). The house is clad in narrow clapboards and the 2-over-2 windows are symmetrically spaced. The far left window on the second story appears to be a 6-over-6 window. In 1869, the property belonged to F. Woodworth(14). By 1901, the small building was occupied by the Dwyer Hack Company and Mrs. Margaret Dwyer, and in 1931, the building was a single family residence occupied by Albert T. Wright(15). Approximately a decade later in 1942, the building was divided into apartments and Arthur G Boss and Hector J Remillard occupied the building(16).
(1) Beers Map of Burlington Vermont, 1869.
(2) Burlington City Directory, 1901 (Burlington: H. A. Manning Co., 1916-1986).
(3) Burlington City Directory, 1931 (Burlington: H. A. Manning Co., 1916-1986).
(4) Sanborn-Perris Map. Burlington, Vermont 1926 with 1935 updates.
(5) Sanborn-Perris Map. Burlington, Vermont 1942.
(6) “Majestic Played the Silents” Burlington Citizen, July 1980.
(7) “Majestic Played the Silents” Burlington Citizen, July 1980.
(8) Hapner, Chris. “It’s 15 Years Since We Welcomed the New Year at the Majestic” Burlington Free Press, 1969.
(9) Hapner, Chris. “It’s 15 Years Since We Welcomed the New Year at the Majestic” Burlington Free Press, 1969.
(10) Hapner, Chris. “It’s 15 Years Since We Welcomed the New Year at the Majestic” Burlington Free Press, 1969.
(11) Hapner, Chris. “It’s 15 Years Since We Welcomed the New Year at the Majestic” Burlington Free Press, 1969.
(12) Hapner, Chris. “It’s 15 Years Since We Welcomed the New Year at the Majestic” Burlington Free Press, 1969.
(13) A.B. Young Map of Burlington Vermont, 1930.
(14) Beers Map of Burlington, Vermont 1869.
(15) Burlington City Directory, 1901, 1931 (Burlington: H. A. Manning Co., 1916-1986).
(16) Burlington City Directory, 1942 (Burlington: H. A. Manning Co., 1916-1986).
9 Center Street
Today the appearance of the intersection of Bank Street and Center Street remains somewhat similar to its appearance during the mid 20th century. The street continues to lack vegetation, and buildings are the predominant feature of the landscape. The Majestic Theater no longer stands at the east corner—a Mobil gas station takes its place. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, the Majestic continued to show movies. However, competition from the Flynn Theater which was constructed in the 1930s and declining audiences competition from forced the theater to close in 1954(1). Ironically, the two theaters were owned by the same corporation. After 42 years of playing movies in downtown Burlinton, the Majestic Theater was sold in 1954. Two years later in February 1956, the “best theater in Vermont” was demolished to construct a gas station on the former site(2). The gas station remains today.
The building located at 191 Bank Street was rebuilt in the mid 20th century years after the demolition of the old structure. The new 191 Bank Street building appears to have been constructed on the old foundation, as it is similar in size and massing as the old building. Today the two story brick building houses Climb High and the Champlain Clothing Company, two outdoor gear apparel stores.
The building at 196 Bank Street remained a residence until 1972, when James Hair Styling and Empire Launderers & Cleaners occupied the building(3). Some time between 1972 and 2006, the building was demolished. Today a tall brick columnar structure and an adjacent gas station stands on the site of the former building.
In the background of the image, is a concrete parking ramp that resulted from the 1960s urban renewal project. Located along South Winooski Avenue and next to the Church Street Marketplace, the ramp provides an additional 400 parking spaces for the downtown business district(4). The ramp was constructed circa 1976 and was funded with $1.6 million from the Economic Development Administration(5).
(1) “Majestic Played the Silents” Burlington Citizen, July 1980.
(2) “Majestic Played the Silents” Burlington Citizen, July 1980.
(3) Burlington City Directory, 1972 (Burlington: H. A. Manning Co., 1916-1986).
(4) A History of the Church Street Marketplace. www.churchstmarketplace.com/history.html 3 November 2006.
(5) A History of the Church Street Marketplace. www.churchstmarketplace.com/history.html 3 November 2006.
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