Burlington, Vermont
Early 20th-century Postcard Views

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

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United States Weather Bureau

This postcard of the United States Weather Bureau was postmarked 1907. The image shows the weather bureau, an elevated stand used to collect weather infomation, and a gentleman sitting on the front steps with a bicycle. The man most likely is a weather observer for the weather bureau, though it is unclear who exactly he is. The image would have been taken by standing in front of the weather bureau, looking southward. This photo of the former U.S. Weather Bureau, now known as the Adams Building, was taken by standing to the right of the building looking southward. Photo by author, 2012.

In 1905 discussions began on the possibility of building a weather station center in Burlington that would be used by state of Vermont. It was planned that the "Weather Station and Observatory for Meteorological Purposes" would be manned by four officials: a director, two observers, and a student assistant. Those officials would work around the clock observing the changing weather conditions; their reports would then be telegraphed daily for a state broadcast.(1)

The location of the Weather Bureau Station was chosen because of the land height on the Williston Road (and it was opposite of the Experiment Farms for the University). The land was elevated in comparison to the surrounding terrain and this altitude was good for making weather observations. In the postcard view from 1907, to the left of the Weather Bureau is a small elevated stand. Most likely this was used to make observations of the wind velocity, direction, and temperature. The Weather Bureau Station was constructed of brick, was two stories (including a basement), and the roof was flat making it possible to use for weather observations.(2)

The U.S. Weather Bureau Station first appears in the Burlington City Directory in 1907 at 499 Main Street and was manned by William H. Alexander, who was an observer.(3) Alexander remained the observer at the Weather Bureau until 1910 when Jon K. Hooper became the local forecaster. The street address of the building changed from 489 Main Street in 1910 to 499 Main Street in 1914.(4) The building remained 499 Main until 1923; during that time John K. Hooper stopped being the local forecaster and F. Eugene Hartwell become the meteorologist at the Weather Bureau.(5) In 1923 the street address changed again back to 489 Main Street. In 1928 the street address for the Weather Bureau was on changed from Main Street to the Williston Road in the Burlington City Directory.(6) Finally though, in 1932 the Weather Bureau was listed at 601 Main Street in the city directory, which is its current street location; from 1930 until 1945 the Weather Bureau was run by Milton W. Dow.(7)

In 1948 the building at 601 Main Street was being used by the University as the Department of Air Science and Tactics; it was used for that until 1965.(8) Then in 1965 the building became the Pringle Herbarium Building, also for the University of Vermont. This remained the use of the building until 1977 based on the Burlington city directories.(9) After this time the building was used for a number of things including the home of the Natural Resources Building. It is currently used for ROTC offices and is known as the Adams Building.(10) In recent years renovations to the Adams Building have included asbestos removal, electrical rewiring (outlets, switches, lights), the foundation wall was water-proofed, and the roof and exterior brick were repaired.(11)

Text by Courtney Doyle

1. UVM Notes, No. 1, 1905, pg. 3-4. Part of the Special Collections UVM Building Info File for the Weather Bureau.
2. UVM Notes, No. 1, 1905, pg. 3-4. Part of the Special Collections UVM Building Info File for the Weather Bureau.
3. Burlington City Directory of 1907, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co., 1907), 128.
4. Burlington City Directory of 1910, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co., 1910), 113. Burlington City Directory of 1914, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co., 1914), 121.
5. Burlington City Directory, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co.), years: 1914, 1920, 1923.
6. Burlington City Directory, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co.), years: 1914, 1928.
7. Burlington City Directory, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co.) , years: 1914, 1930-48.
8. Burlington City Directory, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co.) years: 1914, 1864/65-1948.
9. Burlington City Directory, (Burlington: L.P. Waite & Co., 1914), 1964/65-1977
10. Erin Hammerstedt, History of 601 Main Street, UVM Historic Preservation, 1999, http://www.uvm.edu/campus/601main/601mainhistory.html. Erin's history of the Weather Bureau is extremely detailed, giving reason to not go into as great of detail in the history. The author tried to add new information to the overall history of the Weather Bureau without reiterating the same information already written by others.
11. City of Burlington Assessor's Office, Permit History: 601 Main Street., reported as of: 11/13/2012. http://gis.ci.burlington.vt.us/GeneratedReports/1114201242022PM71.pdf