University Green Area Heritage Study

Historic Burlington Research Project - HP 206


UVM Quonset Hut


The UVM Quonset Hut is located east of Dewey Hall and behind the UVM Outing Club, located at 8 Colchester Avenue, and is a representation of the final evolution of the original Quonset hut called, the Stran-Steel Quonset Hut. Stran-Steel Huts measure 20 feet wide by 48 or 56 feet long in comparison to the first huts built, which measured 16 feet wide and 20 or 36 feet long. [1] The Quonset hut was first manufactured by the United States Navy in 1941, and thus named for the site where they were first manufactured, a Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, RI. [2] Quonset Huts were designed with an interior skin of pressed wood, an exterior skin of corrugated sheet metal, and a layer of insulation. Plywood panels were installed into the front and back end of the hut where windows and doors could easily be installed if so desired.    

UVM’s Quonset hut first appeared on a 1960 Sanborn Insurance map marked as an animal house. [3] Some accounts state that the Quonset hut was erected c. 1947 to provide space to kennel the research animals used for medical experiments’. [4] In 1948, the Quonset hut was used by the UVM chair of neurosurgery, R.M. Peardon Donaghy, to house his peripheral nerve repair research. Donaghy is credited with introducing to neurosurgery the operating microscope, which he used to revascularize cerebral circulation, as well as the development of the first microsurgical program. [5] Currently, the Quonset Hut is being used as storage space by the UVM Geology department. [6]    

Photo and text by Robyn Sedgwick


[1] Devin Colman, “The Chittenden County Quonset Hut Survey,” Chittenden County Historical Society Bulletin Vol. 42 No.1 Winter 2011, 3.

[2] Ibid, 2.

[3] Sanborn Insurance map, 1960.

[4] Colman, 3.

[5] The Society of Neurological Surgeons: R.M. Peardon Donaghy,

James C. Herbert, The History of Surgery In Vermont,

[6] Colman, 3.