University of Vermont

Summer @ UVM

Segment of the UVM Historic Tour

Transcript to accompany audio slideshow

Narrated by Professor Emeritus William Averyt:

Now let's walk a few steps just to the edge of the street, which is University Place, and look at this group of four very beautiful buildings. This is today called University Row, and this group of buildings is the most architecturally and historically significant group of buildings of the historic district in the center of the campus.

To your right on the southern end and moving over to your left on the northern end, you'll see first the Old Mill, and then to your left you see Williams Science Hall, and to the left and the north of that, you see the old Billings library, and left again you'll see Ira Allen Chapel. We're going to walk across the street carefully here on this Saturday morning. Watch out for the traffic, and pause a second in front of Williams Hall.

Williams Hall was the result of a very generous gift of a UVM alumnus, Dr. Edward Williams. The building was completed in 1896. At the time it was said to be the first fire-proof building in the United States. It was constructed as a science hall. The general facade design is patterned after the University Museum of Oxford University in Great Britain. Over the doorway, you'll see the sculpted heads inside medallions of three famous scientists in the middle and late years of the 19th century: Henry, Morse and Agassiz in the fields of physics, telegraphy and botany. And the general design is late 19th century Romanesque revival.

Let's walk a few more paces to the North and stop on the steps of the old Billings Library.

We're now standing in front of the Billings Library building, and for experts in architectural history, this is probably the most important, valuable piece of architecture the university has in the historic district. It was constructed in the middle 1800s — the result of, once again, a very generous donation by a UVM alumnus Frederick Billings, and we'll have more to say about him in just a moment.

It was designed by America's premiere architect in the middle 19th century, Henry Hobson Richardson, and it's a fine example of what today is called "Richardsonian Romanesque," a style which he developed merging elements from English, French and Spanish Romanesque Medieval architecture. You can see some of those characteristics with the strong, half-circle Romanesque arches and heavily rusticated stonework. The fine and very interesting geometric and figurative carving on the facade is the result of the carving of a master stone carver Alfred Milne, and once we step inside the building, you'll see some beautiful woodcarving of another master carver, Albert Whittekind.

Last modified January 07 2013 03:41 PM