Burlington, Vermont
Early 20th-century Postcard Views

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

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Original Fletcher Free Library and Old City Hall, copyrighted 1902 by Detroit Publishing Co. Postcard courtesy of Special Collections, UVM Bailey-Howe Library

City Hall from City Hall Park at Main Street, looking east, November 14, 2012. Photographed by Suzanne Mantegna
This image taken from City Hall Park close to Main Street gives more information about the design of the original City Hall and the building north of it, the Fletcher Free Library (the former County Court House). Two Doric columns and brick pilasters flanked the Renaissance Revival style main entrance to City Hall. There was a symmetrically placed pediment over the entryway roof and two pilasters at the corners. The rusticated stone basement level had keystone-arched semicircular windows. The upper two levels were brick.(1) Two arched windows flanked the arched entrance. The second level had one large arched window/door with possible access to a balcony with stone balustrades.
The building next door to City Hall was the original location of the Fletcher Free Library, but before that it was the County Court House. Mother and daughter, Mary L. Fletcher and Mary M. Fletcher, founded the Fletcher Free Library in 1873, with a donation of $20,000.(2) The city had purchased from the county its share of the courthouse building and retrofitted the second floor of the old Court House for library use.(3)
There have been a number of courthouses at or near this location since the founding of Burlington. The first courthouse built in 1787 was located in the center of City Hall Park. In 1802, the second courthouse was built at the location on Church Street. It burned on June 16, 1829. The building pictured was the third courthouse and was built in 1830.(4) The two-story building was "46 by 60 feet, and a noticeable example of Colonial architecture…of brick (construction) with cut-stone basement and trimmings, the roof being finished with a cupola".(5) In 1872, the fourth courthouse was completed on lower Church Street and the Fletcher Free Library moved into the old building in 1873. It remained there until 1904, when the Andrew Carnegie funded library building was finished on College Street.(6)
The new Colonial Revival style 2-story City Hall building was completed in 1928. The firm of McKim, Mead & White, designed it. According to William M. Kendall who supervised the construction, "the building was designed in accordance with the same classical principles which inspired the public buildings of the Colonies and the early Republic…the exterior walls of the building extending up to the main floor level are granite. Above this they are brick, divided into bays by Corinthian pilasters of marble, which support the main cornice. The roof is of slate. It is surmounted by a cupola, framed in wood, capped by a gilded dome".(7) Ionic columns flank the doors capped with a broken pediment on both the Church Street and City Hall Park entrance and are set in a large arch.


1. Sanborn Insurance Map for the City of Burlington, (Sanborn Insurance Company: Nov. 1896) sheets 16-18.
2. "By Telegraph," Rutland Daily Globe (Rutland, VT), July 15, 1873.
3. City of Burlington, Eleventh Annual Report of the City Government for the City of Burlington, Vermont for the year ending December 31, 1875 (Burlington, VT: Free Press Book and Job Printing House), 82.
4. David J. Blow, Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods, vol. 1, (Burlington, VT: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 163.
5. Charles E. Allen, About Burlington Vermont (Burlington, VT: Hobart J. Shanley and Company, 1905) 87-8.
6. David J. Blow, Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods, vol. 2 (Burlington, VT: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 16.
7. John C. Page, "Court House Square," National Register for Historic Places Nomination Form (National Park Service, 1982), 6.

Researched by Suzanne Mantegna  
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