Burlington, Vermont
Early 20th-century Postcard Views

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

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Center of City Hall Park looking southwest pre-1906. Postcard courtesy of Special Collections, UVM Bailey-Howe Library. Center of City Hall Park looking southwest, 2012.
The buildings on the left are of the American Hotel that opened in 1824 and operated until it burned on December 16, 1906. The original two-story building at the southeast corner of Main Street and St. Paul Street was built for saddler, Moses Jewett. In 1824, former Governor Cornelius Van Ness purchased the building and added a third floor.(1) The additions on Main Street and St. Paul Street were added in 1844.(2) The December 20, 1906 newspaper article in the Burlington Free Press from when the hotel burned states: "for sixty years it was known as the leading hotel in Burlington and called the 'American'. Presidents Monroe and Van Buren have been its guest." According to the Sanborn Insurance maps for the City of Burlington for 1894, the small building on the corner of The American had a 2-story porch. The Sanborn map of 1900 shows this building as a 4-story brick building with slate roof.(3)
The building in the middle of the postcard is the Van Ness House, a hotel that was named for Governor Van Ness and owned for many years by another Vermont governor- U. A. Woodbury. Previous to the Van Ness House, another hotel, Howard House, was at this location. It burned on June 11, 1867.(4) In 1871, the new Van Ness House opened at the southwestern corner of St. Paul and Main Streets. Urban A. Woodbury purchased it in 1881, and added a 5-story addition along Main Street in 1883 and another 4-story extension on St. Paul in 1892.(4) This postcard dates from when a small roof garden, eventually enlarged, was added to the top of the hotel around 1906.
Across Main Street from the Van Ness House is the Woodbury-Walker Block at 133-139 St. Paul Street. U. A. Woodbury and Kilburn Walker built this building in 1891 to house the offices of the Crystal Confectionery, which they owned. Burlington architect Clellan W. Fisher designed the 3- story brick structure with stone accents and brick cornice.(5)
This corner has experienced great changes since the postcard was taken. The American Hotel at the southeastern corner of Main and St. Paul Streets burned on December 16, 1906. The Hotel Vermont, a seven-story brick building opened on this site on June 10, 1911.
The Van Ness House at the southwestern corner of Main and St. Paul Streets burned in 1951.(6) The Howard National Bank (today TD Bank) designed by Freeman French Freeman Architects, is listed on the Sanborn Insurance maps of August 1978 as a 2-story brick building with a composite roof built in 1955.
Across Main Street from the Van Ness House, the Woodbury-Walker building was severely damaged by fire on January 8, 1910, but was immediately rebuilt. The street level remains stores, but the upper level was turned into apartments. The building has changed owners over the years and the upper levels were incorporated into the Huntington Apartments (later Huntington Hotel).(7)
1. J. Biehl, Early History, Hotel Vermont, accessed October 24, 2012, http://www.vermonthouse.org.
2. Sanborn Insurance Maps for the City of Burlington, Vermont (Sanborn Map Company, 1900) sheets 21-23.
3. "Great Fire in Burlington," Vermont Transcript (St. Albans, VT), June 14, 1867, 2.
4. "Van Ness Hostelry," The Vermonter: The State Magazine, vol. 16, no. 4, (White River Junction, VT: Charles R. Cummings Publisher), 95-7.
5. David J. Blow, Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods, vol. 3 (Burlington, VT: Chittenden County Historical Society, 2001), 127.
6. Ibid, vol. 2, 204.
7. Ibid, vol. 3, 126.
Researched by Suzanne Mantegna  
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