McAuley Hall

250 Colchester Ave

1958, Julian Goodrich Architects Inc.

Current Use: Transportation and Parking Service; Department of Risk Management and Environmental Safety; Nutritional and Food Science

Finished in 1957, McAuley Hall marked the beginning of an era of optimism and growth at Trinity College. Trinity's administration asked Julian Goodrich Architects Inc. of Burlington, VT to design a building that would include housing for 150 students, a dining hall, and a chapel with a capacity of 200. In doing so, Trinity had correctly anticipated a large influx of students while commissioning a building type up-to-date in its construction method, materials, and scale. At a cost of 750,000 dollars, McAuley Hall would represent Trinity College in the Modern Era.

McAuley Hall took its name from Mother Catherine McAuley who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. Appropriately, 126 years later, in a ceremonial laying of the “cornerstone”, the buldings final brick was layed into place whereby Bishop Robert Joyce of Burlington blessed the modernist building and proclaimed it to be an “accolade of divine providence itself.” [1]

Marcel Beaudin, an important Vermont architect who favored the International style, designed the building while working with Julian Goodrich Architects Inc. According to Beaudin, the construction of the building was based on the “lift slab system” a method that is still used today by which concrete slab floors were formed and lifted hydraulically into place.[2] Local contractors Wright and Morrissey, who built Mcauley Hall described the process thusly: “Columns extending into the air at frequent intervals to the level of what the finished height of each floor would be were each equiped with a motor, which was part of a larger hydraulic system. The system would then lift, with equal distribution of pressure, raising each concrete slab at a rate of 8 feet an hour.”[3] This method of construction, while common in the west, was quite uncommon in the East, especially Vermont.

This process created a four-story rectangular block housing the living quarters, in which the first story was originally elevated by massive piers to accommodate covered parking. Half of the first story was subsequently built in for use as storage space. The cladding, characteristic of the work of Julian Goodrich, consisted of wall to wall ribbon windows with metal framing and slate veneer spandrels set beneath each window. The end walls were marked by an unadorned brick veneer surface. The chapel, with its one-story rounded apse and distictive, wide eave extended from the buildings western façade.

While still owned by Trinity College, this rounded, rectangular extension featured a large mosaic glass window 16 feet high and 45 feet long. In sharp contrast to the austere, spare appearance of the rectangular block, the stained glass represented a glaring contrast in its ornate, wildly colorful surface facing Colchester Avenue.

Made by Pierre Millous of Chartres, France, the mosaic depicted a variety of biblical scenes mapped out in hundreds of shades of reds,yellows and blues. The anunciation, the visitation, birth of Christ, deposition from the cross, the appearance of the risen Christ to Mary, and the assumption of Mary comprised the parts of the mosaic each in a harmonious relationship to the other.[4] The dramatic effect was achieved by setting pieces of mosaic glass into a skeleton of steel wire and rods and then pouring a special cement into the space between the glass and the metal.

McAuley Hall stands tall and spare amidst a wide range of primarily single family colonial dwellings. Though its scale is tempered by its location at the base of a hill against a thick line of tall trees, Mcauley was meant to be a conspicuous and bold symbol. Ironically, a conservative religious institution was responsible for one of the finest, local examples of progressive architecture in the International style.

The University of Vermont purchased Trinity College in 2002. Currently, the building contains The University of Vermont’s Risk Management Office.

[1] Unidentified article, Burlington Free Press, 1958. Trinity archive at The University of Vermont Library Research Annex.

[2] Liz Pritchett Associates, Survey of International Style Buildings in Vermont 1937-c. 1975, December, 2003.

[3]To Raise the Roof of Trinity Dormitory,’ Burlington FreePress, August 20, 1957.

[4]Stephen Roth ,  A History of Trinity College, Burlington, VT, 1975

 

 

 

 

Researched by: Matthew Holtkamp

graduate student, Historic Preservation Program, University of Vermont, 2007