Burlington, Vermont
Early 20th-century Postcard Views

HP 206 Researching Historic Structures & Sites • 2012
Historic Preservation ProgramUniversity of Vermont

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Campus Green

This postcard of the Marquis de Lafayette statue is postmarked 1907. The image would have been taken looking northeast at the statue, since buildings located on the University Place are seen in the distance. This photo of the Ira Allen statue was also taken looking northeast at the statue. Photo taken by author, 2012.
This postcard of the Howard Fountain is dated circa 1900-1923. The image would have been taken on the Campus Green looking northeast past the fountain towards University Place, Billings Library is visible in the image. This photo of the Howard Fountain was taken looking northeast toward University Place from the Campus Green. Photo by author, 2012.

Based on Burlington city maps of 1830, 1853, and 1869, the University of Vermont's College Green had been bare of any decoration for most of its early existence.(1) The only decorations the College Green possibly had during that time (until 1873) included graded walkways, rows of trees, and a fence. All of which were gifts from the class of 1837.(2) In the second edition of Picturesque Burlington from 1894, the author described the College Green as having two groves, one of pine and the other of tamaracks. The pine grove was allegedly planted by Chauncey Goodrich in the 1850s and the tamaracks were planted by Professor Farrand W. Benedict. There was also supposedly a group of cedars planted by President Wheeler and the College Green was surrounded by elms.(3)

In 1873 it became clear though that the College Green needed a facelift and new decorations. The citizens of Burlington themselves, proposed that the Green be improved. John P. Howard was the first person to give a subscription of $1,000.(4) A little over a year later, John P. Howard presented the University with a fountain meant to be placed at the center of the College Green.(5)

The fountain was not the only decoration Howard paid for to liven up the College Green. In June of 1881, John P. Howard donated more money to the University and made clear his intentions to place a giant bronze statue of the Marquis de Lafayette, an American Revolutionary War general from France, on the Green.(6) The reasoning behind the statue was because Lafayette had laid the corner stone of the South College Building on June 25, 1825, when he visited Burlington.(7) The Vermont Sentinel reported on July 8th, 1825 that Lafayette had visited Burlington because of a request made by Governor Van Ness for the Burlington citizens to Lafayette to visit the city. When Lafayette arrived there was much celebration and on his visit, Lafayette did lay the corner stone of the new South Wing of the College Building.(8)

John P. Howard employed J. Q. A. Ward to sculpt the statue of Lafayette. As inspiration for the statue's stance, Ward used Ary Sheffer's portrait of the Marquise (the painting is part of the House of Representative's collection). The portrait of Lafayette depicts him standing chest out, left foot forward, left hand on hip, while the other hand holds both a cane and hat. Sheffer's Lafayette wears a black suit and a long brown coat. In comparison, Ward's statue of Lafayette shows him with his right foot forward (the chest does not stick out like in the painting), his left hand on hip, while the right hand holds a cane. The statue is decorated in civilian clothes of the 18th century and wears a long coat.(9) The finished statue was unveiled on June 26, 1883, on the same day that the Grand Lodge of Vermont re-laid the original corner stone that Lafayette laid in 1825.(10)

One last note about the College Green during this time, the 1890 Hopkins map shows a great detailed image of what the College Green looked like. It shows two pathways going from Billings Library (they cross each other to form an "X") and it shows a walkway going from the Main College Building to South Prospect Street. This path included the Lafayette statue within a circular pathway and to the north of the statue was another circular path, most likely where the Howard Fountain was located.(11)

In 1920 it was decided by the University to replace the Lafayette statue with a statue of Ira Allen.(12) The reason behind the statue of Allen is because Ira Allen had been responsible for establishing the University. In 1789, Allen gave 4,000 pounds towards the founding of a college that would be located within two miles of the Burlington bay; this was passed and approved by the Vermont Legislature in 1791.(13) Apparently Allen had also asked to have the University named after him but State Legislature would not approve it.(14) The Ira Allen Stature was financed and donated to the University by James B. Wilbur of Manchester and Sherry Fry was the employed sculptor. The statue was seven feet tall and dressed in period clothing. Fry apparently used a painting of Allen, which the University owned, as inspiration for the statue's arrangement.(15)

Since the Ira Allen statue was to replace the Lafayette statue, the later had to be moved to a new home. It was decided that the Lafayette statue would be placed further north on the Campus Green and for this reason it was decided that new paths on the Green would be eventually needed.(16) In June of 1921 Miss Sarah N. Allen, granddaughter to Ira, unveiled the new Ira Allen statue. The donor was also present for the ceremony, and there were speeches given by President Guy W. Bailey and an oration by Darwin P. Kingsley.(17)

Text by Courtney Doyle

1. Sanborn Insurance Map, Burlington Vermont, June 1862, New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., Sheet 13.
2. Junior Class ed., Ariel, Vol. 18, (Burlington, Vt: University of Vermont), University Archives, University of Vermont, 1905.
3. Joseph Auld, Picturesque Burlington: A Handbook of Burlington, Vermont and Lake Champlain (Burlington: Free Press Association, 1893), 116.
4. Untitled, St. Albans Daily Messenger, April 11, 1873.
5. Untitled, St. Albans Daily Messenger, June 6, 1874.
6. Untitled, Vermont Phoenix, June 24, 1881.
7. Untitled, Vermont Phoenix, June 24, 1881. J.E. Goodrich, "Sketch of the History of the University of Vermont," The Burlington Cynic, 1901-1902.
8. "Reception of General La Fayette," Vermont Sentinel, July 8, 1825.
9. Ary Sheffer's Painting can be found at: http://artandhistory.house.gov/art_artifacts/virtual_tours/house_chamber/portraits.aspx. "J.P. Howard Donation," St. Albans Daily Messenger, October 27, 1881.
10. Untitled, Argus and Patriot, June 20, 1883. "Death of John P. Howard," St. Albans Daily Messenger, October 13, 1885.
11. G.M. Hopkins, Map of the City of Burlington Vermont from Official Records, Private Plans, and Actual Surveys, Philadelphia: Hopkins, 1890.
12. "Statue of Ira Allen," St. Albans Daily Messenger, August 27, 1920.
13. E.F. Walbridge, "Historical Sketch of the University," Ariel, (Burlington, VT: University of Vermont: Junior Class, ed.), 1917, 418-438.
14. Junior Class ed., Ariel, Vol. 18, (Burlington, Vt: University of Vermont), University Archives, University of Vermont, 1905.
15. 'Statue of Ira Allen," St. Albans Daily Messenger, August 27, 1920.
16. Untitled, St. Albans Daily Messenger, October, 21, 1920.
17. "Statue of Ira Allen at UVM," St. Albans Daily Messenger, June 18, 1920.