Burlington, Vermont
Early 20th-century Postcard Views

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

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Old College U.V.M., postcard, C.T. American Art, post date June 28, 1915.
Photo & text by Jessica Goerold, 2012.

The Old Mill building, which is located at 94 University Place and overlooks the University Green, has had many incarnations in its lifetime and has always been a remarkable fixture of the University of Vermont campus. It is a contributing structure to the University Green Historic District.(1) Currently, the building houses the Economics, English, Geography & Political Science departments.

The firt buildingo n this site was known as the "College Edifice", completed in 1806 at a cost of around $24,000.(2) It was a three storey Federal-style building, 160 feet long and 40 feet deep, topped with a large dome and cupola.(3) During the year of 1813, the United States Government took posession of the College Edifice in order to use it as an arsenal and again in 1814 as a temporary barracks.(4)

On May 27, 1824, an accidental fire destroyed the College Edifice. The rebuilding of a new structure was swiftly begun on the site of what students affectionately began calling the "Old Mill".(5) Instead of one large structure, it was rebuilt as three smaller buildings. The three buildings were connected to each other. The North and South College buildings were finished in 1826 and outfitted to be dormitories. The Middle College building was finished in 1829 and housed administrative offices, a chapel, a small museum and library, and various lecture halls.(6)

The old college building was reconstructed in 1883 in the High Victorian Gothic style and funded through the generosity of John Purple Howard.(7) The cost was roughly $40,000.(8) A bronze statue of Gen. Lafayette (by John Quincy Adams Ward) was erected in front of it on the Green, also a gift from Howard.(9) The statue was seen as a nod to the building's history, as the Marquis de Lafayette had placed its northwest cornerstone on a visit to Burlington on June 29, 1825.(10) It was later moved to the North end of the University Green, facing Colchester Avenue, where it stands today.

In these images, one can see very little evidence of the change that has overtaken the University of Vermont campus since the College Edifice was first erected. The pathways crossing the Green are similarly placed. The Building itself is identical on its exterior. The most notable differences are the lack of a street light on the postcard, and the various types of trees in each image. The elms that so gracefully lined the sidewalks along the University Green have been replaced with more hardy maple and deciduous trees, having succumbed to Dutch Elm disease in the 1930s.

(1) National Register of Historic Places, University Green Historic District, Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont, National Register.
(2) Frank Smallwood, The University of Vermont Presidents (Burlington: University of Vermont, 1997), 4-5.
(3) Smallwood, 4-5.
(4) "The University Buildings in the Past," Burlington VT Free Press, August 18, 1882, accessed November 9, 2012, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072143/1882-08-18/ed-1/seq-5.
(5) Smallwood, 10.
(6) "The University Buildings in the Past."
(7) Robert V. Daniels, The University of Vermont: The first 200 years (Hanover: University of New England Press, 1991), 115.
(8) Charles Edwin Allen, About Burlington Vermont (Burlington: Hobart J. Shanley & Company, 1905), 44.
(9) UVM Ariel (Rutland: Tuttle Co., 1912), 10.
(10) Smallwood,11.