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The University Green

T. Wood, Burlington from the Hill (Litho), 1846  
The gradual development in the nineteenth-century of University Place along a north-south axis in the early 1800's was intersected in the late 1820's by the placement of the Medical School, now Pomeroy Hall, along an east-west axis defined by upper Main Street and Williston Road. The configuration of the irregularly-shaped rectangular campus green began to take shape and functioned as a visual division between gown and town, a division that became blurred as the north, west, and southern sides of the Green were developed. College Street connected the Green to the Burlington, and provided the main axis from the town to the campus as it does today. Clearly, from the perspective of Burlington, the University was the proverbial 'city on a hill', quite literally an 'ivory tower' visibly removed, yet accessible to the city.

University Green, looking East, 2002  
The University Green functions as the symbolic center of the University's larger campus. It is that space which most clearly comes to mind if one were to ask, "have you seen the University of Vermont?" Although the Green is ringed with vehicular traffic, it is large enough in scale to function as a retreat and refuge. The University Green is a sloped plane which falls away toward the north and west, and is not clearly visible from one vantage point: it is in fact green and functions --spring,summer and early fall-- as an 'enclosed garden'. Students, faculty, staff and visitors may stop and sit if they choose. It becomes a 'green beach' in the spring and summer, where one finds people reclining on the grass as if they were lifted from a painting by Seurat; an outdoor classroom in a pastoral setting when weather permits. The variety, age, and height of trees and other plantings remind the viewer of the stability and on-going traditions of the institution. Significantly, the University Green also functions both as a 'living memorial' which commemorates specific individuals, and as an outdoor laboratory for students of Botany.

The monuments and memorials placed on and near the Green provide a visual cathechism which contributes to an understanding of the University's history. See, for example, the Lafayette and Allen statues; the fountain and memorial benches; the UVM Boulder, John Purple Howard Bust, the Old Mill Bell, to name a few.

The Howard Fountain, c. 1885  
Many of the buildings which form the perimeter of the University Green also serve a commemorative purpose. These buildings often tell us by their names - Billings, Tyler, Allen, Dewey, Morrill and Williams - of the initial commemorative function which they served, honoring patrons, trustees and distinctive alumni. The commerorative function remains, however, the initial academic purpose of many of these buildings has changed over the past two hundred years.

  Waterman Building from the Green, 2002
Their new use reflects a differing curricular emphasis and often a redefined mission of the University. For example, the first and third medical colleges - Pomeroy Hall (1829) and Dewey Hall (1905) - now house, after extensive renovation and additions, the Department of Communication Sciences and The Department of Psychology. Waterman Building (1941) no longer contains a rare book room or a three lane bowling alley; but continues to house the Administrative Offices of the University as well as those for the College of Education and Social Services and the College of Arts and Sciences.

University Green, looking East, 2002  
The University Green, with its memorials and distinctive historic buildings is the center of the University: its historic quadrangle, a place to learn and relax as well as to remember.

Similarly, Billings Library, the University library from 1883 to 1960, is now Billings Student Center, housing offices for Student Affairs and providing important social spaces for a variety of University functions.