University Green Area Heritage Study

Historic Burlington Research Project - HP 206


70 South Williams Street

  The structure located at 70 South Williams Street is a mid-nineteenth century two-story brick home in the Greek Revival style. Today the Greek Revival features are very difficult to pick out, however the structure is a clear representation of the early Italianate style. A bird's eye view map of the area from 1877 shows evidence of balustrade existing atop the hipped roof, a common feature of the style. [1] The Burlington city directories show that Mr. P. S. Peak was living on Williams Street as early as 1866. [2] A newspaper listing in the Burlington Free Press offers the following evidence supporting a 1866 date of construction,

            “The Subscriber offers for sale his residence on William Street, good stable, about one acre of ground, well stocked with fruit and ornamental trees. Will be sold with or without furniture.” - P.S. Peake. [3]

By July of 1869, A.G. Strong was living at the 70 Williams Street Residence. [4] Strong was a well known businessman who had a hardware store in downtown Burlington on Church Street across from the Burlington city park, where City Hall stands today. [5]

            Edward Henry Powell came to Burlington in 1860 to attend the University. [6] In 1862 he enlisted as a private in the army during the Civil War and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. [7] In 1892 Colonel Powell moved back to Burlington to accept the position of treasurer at the University. [8] Throughout his professional life Powell remained extremely involved in the politics of Vermont even serving as an elected State Senator of Vermont from 1878-1880.

            Max L. Powell was the son of Edward Henry Powell and his first wife Ellen G. Rowell. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1885 and received an A.M. from the University in 1907. [9] He practiced law with his father Edward Henry Powell at the firm of Powell and Powell in downtown Burlington as well as sold Fire Insurance to the City of Burlington. [10] In the 1890s he also resided at 70 South Williams with his young family. He was Secretary of the Vermont State Senate in 1896, 1898, 1900; eventually serving a term as a State Senator from Chittenden County in 1910. [11]

            The house stayed in the Powell family for a number of decades and was occupied by various renters until 1940 when the University of Vermont acquired it. It originally housed the Music Department after outgrowing its original building. [12] In the 1980s it became home to the Philosophy Department of the University of Vermont, which it remains today. [13]

  Photos and text by Lisa Crompton


[1] 1887 Ariel Map of Burlington ( Burlington: Special Collections Library at The University of Vermont).

[2] Hart, Hiram S. Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser: July 1866 to July 1867 (Burlington: Hart Publisher, 1866), 59.

[3] “House and lot for sale,” Burlington Daily Free Press, September 14, 1867, 4.

[4] Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser: July, 1869- July, 1870 (Burlington: Burlington Free Press Association, 1869), 81.

[5] Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser: July, 1873 - July, 1874 (Burlington: Burlington Free Press Association, 1873), 113.

[6] Hiram Carlton, Genealogical and Family history of the State of Vermont :V.1 (New York: The Lewis Publishing Company,1903), 307-308.

[7] Prentiss C. Dodge, Encyclopedia: Vermont Biography, Vol. 1 (Burlington: Ullerly Publishing Company, 1912), 292-293.

[8]   Dodge, Encyclopedia: Vermont Biography, Vol. 1, 292-293.

[9] Hiram Carlton, Genealogical and Family history of the State of Vermont :V.1 (New York: The Lewis Publishing Company,1903), 307-308.

[10] City of Burlington Directories: 1894 ( Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co., 1894), 212.

[11] Dodge, Encyclopedia: Vermont Biography, Vol. 1, 293.

[12] Manning’s Burlington Winooski and Essex Junction Directory: 1941-1942 (Springfield: H.A. Manning Co. Springfield, 1942), 245.

[13] Burlington City Directory: 1984 (Bellows Falls: H.A. Manning Co.,1984), 475.