Department of Sociology
A History of FARRAND-BENEDICT HOUSE
31 South Prospect Street
Judge Daniel Farrand, who came to Burlington from Bellows falls following an unsuccessful Congressional campaign, built and occupied this house in 1809. Nine daughters were born to Daniel and his wife Mary Porter in this house over the years. Farrand, one of the leading lawyers of Vermont, had been Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives 1798-99 and a member of the Council of Censors. During the winter of 1812-13 Farrand served as chairman of a meeting called in Williston to protest the War of 1812, then referred to as "Mr. Madison's War." Farrand, a Federalist, was elected a Judge of the Vermont Supreme Court in 1813, but two years later when the Vermont Federalist party was swept out of power, Judge Farrand also lost out. When President Monroe visited Burlington in 1817, Daniel Farrand made the welcoming speech on that occasion. He died October 3, 1825 and in the summer of 1828, his heirs sold the house and three-quarters of an acre of land to Professor George W. Benedict of the University for $1,350.
George Wyllys Benedict arrived at the University of Vermont in 1825 to teach mathematics and natural history and found an almost non-existent institution. The college building had burned and was in ruins; there were few scholars and a vanishing faculty. In his second year, Benedict was called upon to serve as president pro tem, preceding the Rev. James Marsh, whose precepts revolutionized educational concepts and university teaching.
In the 1830s, Professor Benedict successfully helped to ward off financial disaster, raised funds, harried contributors and established a completely new system of university bookkeeping. After 22 years of teaching, he retired in 1847 because of poor health, but left a well-equipped university and a recognized leader in educational matters.
Benedict then found a new career in telegraphy. Needing an outdoor occupation to restore his health, he joined Ezra Cornell, sold stock in the Vermont and Canada Junction Telegraph Company and assisted in building the line. He became its first superintendent. In 1849 Benedict raised the capital stock for the Vermont and Boston Telegraph Company and with the assistance of his son George Grenville Benedict, contracted to construct that company's line from Boston to Burlington, with extensions to Montreal, Ogdensburg and through the Connecticut River Valley. George W. Benedict was president of this company from 1849 to 1853, the year he began his third career -- this one in journalism.
George W. and his son George G. Benedict bought a controlling interest in the Burlington Free Press April 1, 1853. As a member of the Whig State Committee, George W. was one of the chief architects of the republican Party in Vermont and served as State Senator from Chittenden County 1854-55. In 1866 he sold his interest in the newspaper to another son, Robert D. Benedict, and retired. To regain his health he spent eight months, 1866-67, on the Island of Santa Cruz and subsequently wintered in Florida. He died in Burlington, September 24, 1871.
In October of 1871 George W.'s widow invited her son George G. and his family to move into the house. George Grenville, the second son of George W. Benedict graduated from the University of Vermont in 1847. He taught a year in New York City and then joined his father in working on the Vermont & Boston Telegraph construction. George G. succeeded his father as president of the company from 1860 to 1862. (From David J. Blow, Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods, 1991 Chittenden County Historical Society, pp. 167-169.)
Last modified April 01 2010 12:12 PM