38 South Winooski Avenue

First Congregational Church, 1842


By R. F. Panepinto

On the east side of South Winooski Avenue at the head of Cherry Street is the First Congregational Church. It was built in 1842 to replace the original Old White Church built in 1812 and destroyed by arson in 1839. The new building was designed by Henry Serle and supposedly modeled it after the Church of St. Pancras in London at a cost of between $8000 and $20,000. Built in the Greek Revival style, Professor Joseph Torrey of the University of Vermont was consulted on the correctness of the design. At the suggestion of George P. Marsh, a bell tower based on the Choragic Monument was added in 1845. (1)

Originally five bays long, the brick bearing walls on a stone foundation support a wood truss roof presently covered with modern materials. Six massive columns of the Ionic order support the front portico. The church has been remodeled many times over the years; however, it still retains its original form. At the turn of the century, in anticipation of the congregation's 100th anniversary, the building was extended by forty-four feet. A sixth bay added approximately twenty feet to the main building. Evidence of this can be seen in the brickwork. This addition was carefully crafted to match the existing building. A 1930 addition connects the main church with the chapel. (2)

(1) First Congregational Church Building, 1842-1992, (Burlington, VT: First Congregational Church, 1992), p. 3, and Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Vermont Historic Sites and Structures Survey, South Winooski Avenue, (Montpelier, VT, Division for Historic Preservation, n.d.).

(2) First Congregational Church Building, 1842-1992, (Burlington, VT: First Congregational Church, 1992).