The old Medical College building was located on the corner of Colchester Street and Gough Street (now called North Prospect Street). John Bradley apparently built the building that would eventually be used as the Medical College roughly fifty years before the fire (that would place the construction of the house around 1853).(1) The 1853 map of Burlington does not exactly show the same building footprint of the Medical College, but it does show that H. Bradley owned the land. On the Bradley lot there were eight buildings shown. None of these buildings are labeled but it is obvious that the largest building is the main house and the surrounding buildings are barns and sheds.(2) Around ten years later on the 1862 Burlington map the land is listed under the ownership of L. Underwood (the "L" stands for Levi).(3)
Levi Underwood owned the land from at least 1862 to at least 1881 based on the Burlington city directories.(4) From the 1869 Sanborn insurance map it is visible that the jumble of buildings that existed during H. Bradley's ownership have all disappeared. In their place is Levi Underwood's main house facing Colchester Avenue (the house is in a rough cross shape), while behind the home are two smaller buildings. Also on the Underwood lot behind these three structures is a rectangular structure with an ell; this building faces Gough Street (North Prospect Street). Lastly the map shows a circular driveway to the west side of the home, which exits to Gough Street.(5) The directories never list any family members living with Underwood until the 1881-1883 Burlington Directory, in which Underwood and his son are both listed at 43 South Prospect Street. This fact points to the possibility that Underwood had moved out of the home by this time and was living with his son.(6)
In 1883 John P. Howard bought the "Underwood Place" going through the Burlington Savings Bank for the financial means; the purchase included the mansion and a few acres.(7) Howard planned on giving the building to the University as their new Medical Building.(8) The former Medical Building was located across the campus green on Main Street and had recently grown too small for the increasing class size (even after renovations were done to the building).(9) Howard's plans for the new Medical College also included renovations. Those renovations included remodeling the lower floor rooms for offices, an anatomical museum, and a dissecting room. The second floor was spacious and could be used for a lecture hall.(10) The 1885 Sanborn insurance map depicts the Medical College's main building (the Underwood Mansion) and a few buildings out back of the main building. The main building was now a square shape with a rectangular attachment to the back, where the janitor's office, professor's office, and dissecting room were located. The buildings outback of the Medical College consisted of a horse shed and two unlabeled buildings.(11)
On the morning of December 3, 1903, UVM medical students discovered smoke in the Medical College's amphitheater, and signaled the fire alarm. By the time the fire men had arrived, the building was engulfed in flames and for the most part lost. All that remained of the Medical College after the fire was the museum and part of the library. Medical classes were canceled for the rest of the day but the college administration planned on classes resuming the following day; the new term had just started three days prior to the destructive fire.(12) A few days later in the Argus & Patriot, it was suggested that the fire was a result of a careless student and their cigar; the actual cause of the fire was never discovered.(13)
When the Medical College burned in 1903, it took the college trustees four months to decide to construct a new Medical Building. It was decided to build on the previous location; the sole reason being that the deed John P. Howard had transferred to the University required that the land be occupied by a building used by the University. Construction of the new building was planned to start in the spring, starting with the removal of the burned remains of the Medical College. The funds for this new building would be a combination of the insurance money from the fire (which totaled $11,000) and donations, so that a total of $100,000 would be available for the new building.(14)
The cornerstone of the new building was laid July 5th around 4 p.m. and was part of the University's 1904 Centennial.(15) In August of the same year it was announced that the building contract had been awarded to the Champlain Manufacturing Company for a cost of $100,000; while Huard & Pratt had a contract to furnish all of the brick.(16) The construction of the new building was started at once and the building materials were of both brick and terra cotta; it was estimated that the building would be finished by May 1905.(17) Construction moved quickly, within a month the foundation was almost finished and the upper walls had been started.(18) News of the construction progress remained quiet in the newspapers until there was an elevator accident on January 7, 1905. Frank Adams, John Gowett, and B. Dominick fell fifty feet in an elevator after the plank that held the elevator cable snapped. Luckily all three men survived without any serious injuries and all were transported to the Mary Fletcher Hospital. Oddly enough, that was the last day the elevator was suppose to be used for construction purposes.(19)
By June 7, 1905 the new medical building was completed. It was much larger then the previous building and included a number of features including laboratories, offices, classrooms, bathrooms, a dissecting room, museum, and locker rooms. The most impressive aspect of the building was its front entrance, which received much discussion in local newspapers; the Ionic terra cotta clad columns and granite stone steps were different in comparison to other campus buildings.(20) This new building remained the Medical College from 1905 until 1970, when it became the home of the Psychology Department.(21)
The building was dedicated to John Dewey in 1969. Dewey was an alumnus of the University of Vermont and graduated in 1879; he made a name for himself in education, philosophy, and psychology.(22) The building has had numerous repairs and renovations done to it since it became the home of the Psychology Department. Some of those repairs have included replacing the brick on the front steps in 1982. During the early 1990's there were mechanical and electoral changes, such as installing outlets, relocating outlets, and installing technology for the lecture rooms. In most recent years, asbestos has been removed, fire alarms installed, and masonry work done to the front steps and entrance in 2008.(23)
Text by Courtney Doyle
1. "Fire in Burlington: Medical College Building Burned to the Ground," St. Albans Daily Messenger, December 3, 1903.
2. Presdee & Edwards, Map of Burlington Vermont, 1853.
3. Sanborn Insurance Map, Burlington Vermont, June 1862, New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., Sheet 13. Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser (Burlington: The Free Press Association, 1881), 105.
4. Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser (Burlington: The Free Press Association, 1865), 83. Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser (Burlington: The Free Press Association, 1881), 105.
5. Sanborn Insurance Map, Burlington Vermont June 1869, New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., 1869, Sheet 13.
6. Burlington City Directory and Business Advertiser, (Burlington: The Free Press Association, 1881), 105. The changes in the street name from Gough to North Prospect occur between the 1873/73 and 1875/76 directories; Burlington City Directory, (Burlington: The Free Press Association), 1881.
7. "More of Mr. Howard's Beneficence," St. Albans Daily Messenger, September 29, 1883.
8. "More of Mr. Howard's Beneficence," St. Albans Daily Messenger, September 29, 1883.
9. Jeffery D. Marshall, Universitas Vinidis Montis, 1791-1991: An Exhibition of Documents and Artifacts Telling the Story of the University of Vermont, (Burlington, Vt: University of Vermont, 1991), 30.
10. "More of Mr. Howard's Beneficence," St. Albans Daily Messenger, September 29, 1883.
11. Sanborn Insurance Map, Burlington Vermont, June 1885, New York: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., 1885, Sheet 14.
12. "Fire in Burlington: Medical College Building Burned to the Ground," St. Albans Daily Messenger, December 3, 1903.
13. "Medical College Burned," Argus & Patriot, December 9, 1903.
14. "To Replace UVM Medical Building," St. Albans Daily Messenger, March 8, 1904.
15. Untitled, Argus and Patriot, July, 13, 1904. "UVM Centennial 1904 Programme," St. Albans Daily Messenger, June 20, 1904.
16. Untitled, St. Albans Daily Messenger, April 3, 1905. "To Build Medical College," St. Albans Daily Messenger, August 18, 1904.
17. "To Build Medical College," St. Albans Daily Messenger, August 18, 1904.
18. Untitled, Argus and Patriot, September 7, 1904. Untitled, St. Albans Daily Messenger, August 24, 1904.
19. "Elevator Accident, Three Men Fell Fifty Feet in Burlington," St. Albans Daily Messenger, January 15, 1905.
20. "News of the State: What is Going on in and About Old Vermont," St. Albans Daily Messenger, June 7, 1905.
21. Burlington City Directory for 1905, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co., 1905),126; Burlington City Directory for 1971/72, (Massachusetts: H.A. Manning Co., 1971/72). 622.
22. Robyn Sedgwick, University Green Area Heritage Study: Dewey Hall, UVM Historic Preservation Graduation Program, 2011, http://www.uvm.edu/~hp206/2011/sites/57.html. Psychology Department, John Dewey Hall, UVM Psychology Department, 2012, https://www.uvm.edu/~psych/?Page=JDH_overview.html&SM=researchsubmenu.html.
23. City of Burlington Assessor's Office, Permit History: 2 Colchester Ave., reported as of: 11/13/2012. http://gis.ci.burlington.vt.us/GeneratedReports/1114201232118AM71.pdf.