Notes (Part II)
3. The Vermont Watchman, August 14, 1889, 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Accessed on October 25, 2013 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
4. Burlington Free Press, December 18, 1901.
Part III: 180 and 2 Flynn Avenue (Lumiere North America, Vermont Hardware and Standard Oil)
The Lumiere North American Company, a French-based photographic product production firm, purchased the Howard Park fairground property (located at what is now 180 Flynn Avenue) from James B. Henderson, a trustee of the Champlain Valley Fair Association, for eleven thousand dollars on February 4, 1902.1 Before this business transaction occurred, the Champlain Valley Fair Association transferred the physical property (consisting of thirty two acres of open space and forty rods of lake frontage) via a mortgage deed to J. W. Russell, a trustee for the bondholders.2 An article in the Burlington Daily Free Press, published in December of 1901 publicized the emergence of this new company before the land purchase actually occurred, presumably because the transaction marked the beginning of a dramatic change in the neighborhood. It proclaimed, "Lumiere Company Coming to Howard Park. Manager White, Who is in the City, Outlines the Plans—About $100,000 to be Invested in the Plant and 100 Operatives Employed".3 Understandably, this began to generate a markedly different business activity than that of Howard Park: products would now be created and shipped out for use all over the world.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Lumiere Company was the largest manufacturer of photographic dry plates and papers in Europe—the parent plant was located in Lyons, France.4 At the time, their business expanded so rapidly in Europe that company officials decided it was time to create new operations elsewhere; North America thus became a logical choice for production expansion. French representatives for the Lumiere North American Company chose the Howard Park Site on Flynn (then Park) Avenue in Burlington, Vermont because they felt the city had the "cleanest atmosphere" and the neighborhood had the "biggest abundance of fresh water"—two highly necessary qualities for the production of photographic materials.5 F. J. White, the representative for the Lumiere Company in Vermont (referred to in the title of the Free Press article mentioned above) traveled to Burlington in early 1902 in order to make preliminary arrangements for the company's new construction at the Howard Park property.6 Architect F. S. Hinds of Boston produced the building plans in cooperation with manager White and the Lumiere Company's Consulting Engineer, Claudius Poulaillon: the three men traveled from Paris to Vermont, Massachusetts and New York to collaborate and complete the plans for the buildings to be erected at the old Howard Park site.7 These men faced the challenge of creating a series of structures in Burlington for the Lumiere Company that could adapt to the already successful European manufacturing processes. At the time, the Lumiere Company's industrial structures that existed in France were only one story high, made of stone and had cement floors; differences in local materials and applicable building techniques in America made this uncommon in Vermont's existing industrial structures.8 The engineers and planners decided that the new factory buildings at Howard Park must be similar to those in France but made of brick instead of stone; they also deemed the site itself "ideal" because the landscape provided the possibility for the company to expand and build more buildings over time if necessary.9
Throughout the remainder of 1902, a multitude of changes took place on Flynn Avenue as the Lumiere North American Company contractors constructed the buildings and therefore drastically altered the neighborhood. Because the company produced photographic dry plates and paper, the availability of water played an imperative role in the manufacturing process at 180 Flynn Avenue. Each day that the Lumiere Company manufactured products in Burlington, they used approximately a half million gallons of water that were pumped from Lake Champlain into a reservoir near the plant.10 Because of this, it is possible to clearly deduce the major reasons why manufacturers (like Lumiere) looked to Burlington as a logical choice for product production in the early 20th century—the availability of applicable resources made the city an ideal location. Flynn Avenue's extremely close proximity to Lake Champlain (a major waterway), Route 7 (a major highway) and the Rutland Railroad clearly set the stage for a successful business endeavor. Newspapers such as The Burlington Free Press publicized many of the important changes that occurred in the neighborhood at the dawn of the twentieth century: an article dated October 3rd, 1902 proclaimed "Changes at Howard Park: Old Fair Ground Has Lost Its Familiar Look." During that particular month, the company contracted the placement of large water mains in Lake Champlain near Oakledge Park to assist in transporting water to the factory buildings; these pipes extended about 1,100 feet long and were put in place by an individual diver (Diver "Falcon") who reportedly did similar work for Dr. William Seward Webb and the City of Burlington.11 Shortly after the diver set the water mains in place, the builders completed the company structures: the October 1902 Free Press article stated that "Howard Park is so changed that it would not be recognized but for the grand stand, the floral hall and some of the horse sheds…the new buildings are entirely different from any manufacturing building in the State, the large part of the rooms being entirely without light".12
This initial change in character to the Flynn Avenue neighborhood proved to be so drastically different that newspapers such as the Free Press actually noted the changes in appearance and association, as evidenced by the article mentioned above. While the transition from a strictly residential and recreational area to a more commercialized and industrial neighborhood proved to be slightly daunting and different for Burlington, clearly the city residents attempted to maintain a strong sense of "place" and consistently value the past. In addition, the public played as much of a role in the Lumiere North American Company's landing in Vermont as they could: during the initial business deal, the citizens of Burlington authorized the company to take over the Howard Park property by granting them an exemption from taxation for ten years.13 Mayor D. C. Hawley of Burlington called a meeting to order at City Hall on September 20th, 1901, where residents voted on the tax issue regarding the Lumiere Company—the majority voted "yes" on the condition that the French company must invest at least $50,000.00 in their business.14 Clearly, the community believed that the Lumiere Company's presence and commerce in Burlington could inspire positive change and economic benefit in Vermont—the city also created public accessibility within company activities. Many skilled workmen from France were to relocate to the Burlington site, as would many materials necessary for photograph production; company officials also hoped that after some time in Vermont that they could eventually transition to using only local Vermont materials in product manufacture.15 Therefore, the new extension of the company had goals that clearly aligned with the building structures: adapt to the new site and materials present in order to create a highly innovative product.
Although the Lumiere North American Company did not actively produce photographic materials at the Howard Park site in Burlington for an extremely extended period of time, their work on Flynn Avenue remained important to the city's manufacturing history. The Lumiere brothers, those responsible for starting the company in Lyons, France, essentially invented the mechanism for producing photographs in color by using what they termed the "autochrome" plate.16 This proved to be the most important step forward since the initial discovery of photography. By using their patented "single plate color process," one could expose a photograph in color on a single piece of glass by using an ordinary camera with exposures of one second or less. Despite the fact that the parent branch of the Lumiere Company in France persisted as the stronger component, the Lumiere brothers made efforts to extend a full understanding of the firm's activities in Burlington. In the spring of 1908, they gave a well-attended lecture at the Williams Science Hall at the University of Vermont that explained the processes associated with color photography to the public.17 Several years later, the company closed its doors on Flynn Avenue in Burlington and removed one small office to New York City that became entirely devoted to motion picture production; the Lumiere brothers realized they could import photographic materials from France as cheaply as producing them in Burlington and thus abandoned 180 Flynn.18 Maps such as the 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (Fig. 1) show that the company abandoned its buildings on Flynn Avenue. However, at this time they were not destroyed—several years later a new company, the Vermont Hardware Company, moved into the existing structures and began to adapt them for re-use that has persisted until the present day.
The excerpt from a Fire Insurance Map by the Sanborn Map Company (made in 1912), shows the basic structure of the Lumiere Company's Flynn Avenue facility just shortly after production ceased and therefore provides the clearest visual representation of the company's physical presence in Burlington (Fig. 1). The yellow portions of the map (only the back end of the coal shed) indicate "frame" (wood) structures and the red portions (the majority) indicate composition by brick. The popularity of brick usage in early 20th century factory structures such as the Lumiere North American Company buildings on Flynn Avenue indicates the availability and strength of such a material in North America—manufacturers had to create sturdy buildings resistant to fire that could also withstand the daily operations of industry. When left untainted by fire or other destruction, brick construction materials actually persisted over time very well. This is evident in certain structures at 180 Flynn Avenue that still exist in the present day, as shown in current photos of the site (Figs. 2, 3).
Figure 2 shows a structure that stands at present on Flynn Avenue in the eastern end of the old Howard Park location; this particular building element is what remains of the original coal shed (seen in the lower left corner of the map in Fig. 1). Although it has been heavily modified and altered since the time that the Lumiere Company utilized the space (especially with the new inclusion of windows), the relatively small size and low height of the building speaks to the "peculiarity" of the original Lumiere structures in relation to other North American factories at the time of its construction. Clearly, the company did intend to begin with relatively small operations in Burlington and expand their physical presence as necessary; despite a strong start to their North American business, evidence shows that the expansion never occurred as planned.
The physical Howard Park property that the buildings rested upon was sold at public auction to John J. Flynn of Burlington for $17,000 in May 1914.19 Shortly after that in 1916, the Vermont Hardware Company moved into the existing spaces and began strictly wholesale operations—understandably, this began to slowly alter some exterior characteristics of the buildings, but as the 1919 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (Fig. 4) shows, much of the initial structure remained the same.20 It is likely that the company made some additions to the complex at this time this time, including a large sign reading "Vermont Hardware Co." that was erected over the entrance to the main building (Fig. 5). A pamphlet, published in 1916 by the Vermont Hardware Company puts forth a public explanation of the company history, but also the importance of the new location on Flynn (Park) Avenue, their initial attraction to the site and its physical characteristics: "We are justly proud of our new quarters, not only for their unusual attractiveness which adds pleasure to business, but for their utility as well. With a larger stock of goods than ever before, housed in well lighted fireproof and weather proof buildings in such a way as to be readily accessible, we are in a position to give the trade service they have never enjoyed before" .21 Despite the "industrial" association of operations on Flynn Avenue, instances such as these statements put forth by the Vermont Hardware Company indicate a true sense of regional and neighborhood pride—manufacturing in Burlington was made to enhance the city and the lives of its residents, not detract from it. Furthermore, the statements by the Vermont Hardware Company concerning the "attractive" physical qualities of the old Lumiere Company buildings that were originally called "peculiar" speaks to the increasing eclectic nature of the neighborhood.
According to Burlington City directories and physical evidence at the current site, the Vermont Hardware Company still exists today in the Howard Park Space at 180 Flynn Avenue; the existing facilities are called the "Howard Facilities." Early business listings in the city directory advertise the Vermont Hardware Company at this location as "Jobbers" who sold "shelf hardware, glass, auto accessories, sporting goods, paints and varnishes, Atwater-Kent radios and R. C. A. tubes" under the direction of President J. Charles Arnold (Fig. 6, top)22 . The remaining images (Figs. 7-12) illustrate the appearance of the site at present; the difference between the Lumiere North American buildings and other American factory structures is evident if one considers the original function of these small brick buildings as large-scale manufacturing outlets as opposed to retail spaces. Modern business operations in the later 20th-century constructed additional outbuildings at the site to accommodate current business operations (such as Booska Movers), but antique marketplaces such as the Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace and artist studios such as the Borough Gallery and Studio now utilize several original areas of the structures.23
It should be noted that the original Howard Park property extended from the Rutland Railroad tracks to the shore of Lake Champlain; the site directly to the west of 180 Flynn Avenue now has the address of 2 Flynn Avenue and is operated by an Environmental Services Company called Enpro. The separation between sites 180 and 2 developed beginning after 1915 because the closing of the Lumiere North American Company no longer necessitated the use of the extra space between the original brick structures and the lake. Presumably, this is the area once reserved for company expansion. In July of 1915, John J. Flynn (who purchased the entire site in 1914) transferred approximately 20 acres of the land (including lake frontage) not then occupied by the Vermont Hardware Company to E. L. Jones of New York City; at this time, no one knew of the site's future function.24 Approximately one month later, the Standard Oil Company of New York purchased this specific piece of property from E. L. Jones because they had outgrown their operating plant on North Avenue in Burlington and intended to construct new buildings on Flynn Avenue.25 Although Standard Oil only occupied this location until approximately 1946, other oil companies (such as Mobil) utilized this location in the late 20th century.26 Oddly enough, the current usage of the site by Enpro is to minimize environmental damage by treating waste and recycling oil, not harvest and provide it.27 The following images (Figs. 11-12) show a glimpse of the current operations of Enpro at 2 Flynn Avenue (although the site is heavily secured and surrounded by a chain-link fence); an extreme contrast between the smaller historic brick buildings at site 180 is clearly visible.
Images (Part III)
Notes (Part III)
3. Burlington Free Press, December 2, 1901.
7. Burlington Free Press, February 5, 1902.
8. Burlington Free Press, December 2, 1901.
11. Burlington Free Press, October 3, 1902.
13. Burlington Free Press, December 2, 1901.
16. Burlington Free Press, July 26, 1907.
17. Burlington Free Press, April 16, 1908.
18. Burlington Weekly Free Press, October 12, 1911. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Accessed on November 9, 2013 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
19. Burlington Free Press, May 19, 1914.
20. Manning's Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directory for the Year Beginning October 1916. (Springfield, M.A.: H.A. Manning Co., 1916), 464.
21. Vermont Hardware Co., Exclusively Wholesale: The Gateway to Good Service. Informational Company Pamphlet produced by Vermont Hardware Company, 1916, 2. Courtesy of University of Vermont Special Collections.
22. Manning's Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directory for the Year Beginning August 1930. (Springfield, M.A.: H.A. Manning Co., 1930), 522.
23. Listing for 180 Flynn Avenue. Burlington City Assessor's Property Database; accessed on September 5, 2013 at http://property.burlingtonvt.gov/PropertyDetails.aspx?a=9500.
24. Burlington Free Press, July 16, 1915.
25. Burlington Free Press, August 31, 1915.
26. Manning's Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directory for the Year Beginning October 1946. (Springfield, M.A.: H.A. Manning Co., 1946), 253.
27. Company History of Enpro. Company Website; accessed on September 5, 2013 at http://www.enpro.com/history.html.
Part IV: 207 Flynn Avenue (Lang & Goodhue, Burlington Shoe, Vermont Construction and Vermont Structural Steel)
As the success of Howard Park dwindled, two additional industrial constructions, relatively small in scale, existed at the property that is now listed as 207 Flynn Avenue (located southeast from site 180 at the intersection of Briggs Street). The Lang & Goodhue Manufacturing Company owned and operated the buildings to the west of Briggs Street; the very small and short-lived Burlington Shoe Company owned the buildings to the east of Briggs Street (Fig. 1). In 1894, Lang & Goodhue advertised themselves as "hydraulic engineers and contractors for complete systems of water works for cities and towns: manufacturers of steam fire engines, pulp machinery and horse nail machinery" in the Walton's Vermont Register (Fig. 2). According to the advertisement, the company also sold other assorted engines, boilers, water wheels, motors and mill machine supplies at the site on Flynn (then Park) Avenue (Fig. 2). Burlington Annual Reports also mention the Lang & Goodhue company's important service to the improvement of Burlington's water systems in the late 1880s: W.H. Lang designed a hydraulic motor in 1881 that propelled a new "high service" reservoir pump in Burlington (installed in 1888) and therefore helped to provide cleaner, fresher water to the town's residents.1 The new advanced pump contained both brass and bronze metals, operated by the flow of water in any direction and also sported a number of significant safety features—clearly, Lang & Goodhue used their engineering expertise to bring imperative products to the city of Burlington.2
Although not much else is known about Lang & Goodhue and the Burlington Shoe Company, both businesses operated in town prior to the establishment of physical numbered addresses and regular business listings. Extant copies of stock certificates for Burlington Shoe Company (Fig. 3) also suggest active investment culture in the company in the late 1800s.3 The 1894 Sanborn Map also shows the existence of the Stewart Hartshorn Shade Roller Factory and the Ransom Hardware Company within the Lang & Goodhue Complex on Flynn Avenue; throughout the 20th century as this site eventually transformed into the longtime home of the Vermont Structural Steel Corporation, the inclusion of additional and separate companies within the same major complex became an important characteristic of the neighborhood. Although the manufacturers didn't necessarily share equipment, products or profits, their outlying structures clearly related to one another and thus made the neighborhood into somewhat of an "industrial community." This is still evident in the association of structures present on Flynn Avenue at present. The entirely yellow coloring in the buildings evident on the 1894 Sanborn map clearly shows the lack of brick or metal in the construction of Lang & Goodhue and the Burlington Shoe Company's buildings. This became especially significant in July of 1902 when two separate fires, both of unknown origin, erupted at the corner of Flynn (then Park) Avenue and Briggs Streets—the Burlington Shoe Company property was completed destroyed. Much of Lang & Goodhue's manufacturing facilities were also severely damaged; insurance covered the cost of losses at both these properties and Lang & Goodhue continued to operate at site 207 for approximately two more years.4 The Burlington Shoe Company building was never re-built in the same location, and the last Burlington City Directory that lists Lang & Goodhue Manufacturing Company as a functioning business on Flynn (Park) Avenue was published in 1904.5 At that time, the Lumiere North American Company had begun operations across the street at 180 Flynn Avenue and the southern side of Flynn Avenue remained largely quiet.
After Lang & Goodhue ceased operations, the factory buildings at 207 Flynn Avenue remained vacant for a short period of time; a Sanborn Map dated March 1906 shows relatively little change to the physical structures of Lang & Goodhue but lists the property as "vacant: no watchman".6 In 1907 (approximately), a company called "The Vermont Construction Company" moved to the 207 Flynn Avenue site and began to produce structural iron pieces and brass castings: this is the earliest origin of the Vermont Structural Steel Corporation (perhaps the longest lasting industrial manufacturer in the Flynn Avenue neighborhood).7 Vermont Structural Steel proved to be a staple in the industrial history of Burlington because of the nature of their product and a strong sense of local company values. This is present in their advertising materials and products created and distributed over the twentieth century.
A man by the name of Floyd W. Moore formed the branch of Vermont Construction Company active on Flynn Avenue in 1907-1908; originally the location once used by Lang & Goodhue, Stewart Hartshorn Shade Roller and Ransom Hardware served as a small iron foundry and fabricating shop. Later, this became incorporated into The Vermont Structural Steel Corporation around the year 1921.8 The company initially served Northern New England and New York; they held offices in Burlington (at 207 Flynn Avenue) and Plattsburgh, New York and specialized in the fabrication of structural steel reinforcing steel beams, ornamental iron castings and plate work.9 Advertising materials available for circulation during the late 20th century state the existence of a "miscellaneous iron shop for the fabrication of railings, fire escapes and steel stairs".10 Over the course of its production time, Vermont Structural Steel Corporation fabricated elements at 207 Flynn Avenue for important landmarks around Burlington such as the Patrick Gymnasium, Gutterson Field House, Given Medical Building and the Billings Student Center at the University of Vermont.11 Many bridges along the Vermont interstate highway system were also constructed using Vermont Structural Steel beams, as were components of the high school buildings in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex and Winooski.12 In this manner, the company naturally worked themselves into the history and culture of the built environment in multiple areas of Burlington—not just in the area of manufacturing industry.
The presence and popularity of such a large scale production site in a neighborhood as small as Flynn Avenue certainly generated an interesting series of physical changes throughout the 20th century—photographer Louis L. McAllister, who visually documented much of Burlington in the 1930s and 40s, made several pictures of activities around the Vermont Structural Steel Corporation headquarters that made these physical changes visible. The two photographs below (Figs. 4 and 5) show the intersection of Flynn Avenue and Briggs Streets in June and September 1942 as the city completed a large road-widening and sewer improvement project to better accommodate increased car traffic and industrial activity at the Structural Steel Plant.
Although the Vermont Structural Steel Corporation was active on Flynn Avenue for the majority of the 20th century, their most successful years occurred in the 1950s; at this time they employed a work force of approximately 150 people and maintained an annual payroll of three million dollars.13 The company projected a clear sense of pride in the scale and reach of their operations, but also their interest and specialization in locally and handcrafted materials: for large-scale industrial operations, this is often a rarity. Advertising packets distributed from the 1950s to the 1970s also show an interest in acquainting the public with both the activities of the corporation, but also its physical location on Flynn Avenue (Figs. 6 and 7). Business cards showed aerial views of the Flynn Avenue manufacturing site (Fig. 8), thus indicating the company's vast expansion and domination of the Briggs Street intersection throughout the majority of the 20th century. The main façade of the factory buildings and front offices always remained situated right at the edge of the street, but photographs such as that on the business card actually show that the buildings in the complex extended very far south, similar to those of Lang & Goodhue. Understandably, the physical structures were created to be long and narrow in order to accommodate the machinery, equipment, products and workers necessary to facilitate comfortable production of structural steel products. Due to the varied nature of structural steel fabrication and production, it also makes sense that the Flynn Avenue outfit was not constructed as one large factory building, but rather a series of smaller outbuildings. As the company persisted throughout the 20th-century, Burlington City Directories also list several other interrelated firms (such as Filling Station Supply Company and Cities Service Refining Company) at addresses of "207 Flynn Avenue," "Off 207 Flynn Avenue" or "203 Flynn Avenue"—it should be noted that the physical area occupied by the Vermont Structural Steel Corporation encompasses all of these outbuildings.14 Many of the structures were built from wood and fortified with metal on the roofs and outer walls.
The Vermont Structural Steel Corporation ceased production and closed in January of 1988 due to "fierce competition and too few construction jobs"—company decline actually began in the 1970s, and in the next decade the board of directors finally agreed to close the company and liquidate the inventory.15 The president of the corporation at the time, Robert Moore (son of Floyd W. Moore, founder of the company) blamed the company's eventual decline on increased structural steel usage in Vermont from out of state companies—for certain projects around Burlington, interest in local materials had faded and other Vermont Steel Companies such as Reliance Steel and Colchester/Bennington Iron fought with one another to stay in business.16 The buildings persisted, however, and the large complex was overtaken in the recent past by outfits such as the Barrett Trucking Company (16 Austin Drive), Evergreen Roofing (43 Briggs Street) and Upstairs Antiques (207 Flynn Avenue). The photographs below show the present day structures at the site; when compared to the Vermont Structural Steel business card (Fig. 8) it is possible to see that the current physical nature of the complex still pays homage to its industrial past, but in a much more artistic and eclectic nature.
Images (Part IV)
Footnotes (Part IV):
2. "Report of the Superintendent of Waterworks, 16th Annual Report of the City of Burlington, Vermont for the Year Ending December 31st, 1880" (Burlington: R.S. Styles Steam Printing House, 1881), 34.
3. L.P. Waite & Co., ed., Burlington City Directory for 1890, Including a Business Directory, Church Society and Street Directories, a Map of the City and a Directory of Winooski for the Year 1890. (Burlington: Free Press Association, 1890), 136.
4. Thirty Eighth Annual Report for the City of Burlington Vermont for the Year Ending December 31, 1902 (Burlington: Free Press Printing, 1902), 136.
5. L.P. Waite & Co., ed., Burlington City Directory for 1904, Including a Business Directory, Church Society and Street Directories, a Map of the City and a Directory of Winooski for the Year 1904. (Burlington: Free Press Association, 1904), 167.
6. Sanborn Insurance Company Map, Burlington Sheet 27, 1906. Map courtesy of University of Vermont Special Collections.
7. L.P. Waite & Co., ed., Burlington City Directory Including Winooski and South Burlington for 1907 (Burlington: Free Press Association, 1907), 276.
8. Burlington Free Press, January 1, 1988.
9. Vermont Structural Steel Advertising Packet, exact date produced unknown. Material contained in Vermont Structural Steel Corporation (Burlington) Reference File, courtesy of University of Vermont Special Collections.
11. Burlington Free Press, January 1, 1988.
14. Manning's Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directory for the Year Beginning October 1935. (Springfield, M.A.: H.A. Manning Co., 1935), 200.
15. Burlington Free Press, January 1, 1988.
Part V: 208 Flynn Avenue (Vermont Milk Chocolate Company and the 208 Complex)
An additionally significant industrial structure on Flynn Avenue at present is the extraordinarily large, three-building complex known as "208 Flynn." Today, this complex houses a number of professional offices, businesses and studio spaces that all serve completely different functions yet coexist in the same location. This is not unusual given the history of the building as a location that housed nearly twenty businesses at different times throughout the 20th century—however, the most important roots of the structure located at 208 Flynn lie in the establishment of the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company as the initial manufacturer. William H. Edmonson, a consulting engineer from Boston designed the physical structure of 208 Flynn Avenue in 1917 according to "slow burning mill-style" specifications with the utmost care and attention paid to safety concerns, materials and workmanship.1 The plans for the new building dictate specific rules for contractors, the scope of the work and materials necessary and the physical characteristics of each building.2 According to Edmonson, construction of the new factory would combine fireproof brick walls and petitions with concrete floors, tar roofs and iron reinforcements with the inclusion of many windows and comfortable work spaces: he designed the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company to withstand almost anything.3 Edmonson drew up the plans in 1917 when the company was formed, and construction began shortly thereafter. The photograph of Edmonson's building plans (Fig. 1) shows detail of one side elevation of the new building. It is possible to see the copious windows and brick overlay in this diagram; this factory is clearly different from other structures present in Flynn Avenue's manufacturing history because of its attention to "mill-style" design—there are many similarities to the design of neighboring factories in Burlington such as the Queen City Cotton Mill (Lakeside Avenue) and the Maltex Building (Pine Street).
The Vermont Milk Chocolate Company formed as an additional component of the Massachusetts Chocolate Company; expansion beyond the existing Boston facilities was deemed necessary in order to accommodate a rapidly growing business.4 Like the motivation of the Lumiere North American Company sixteen years prior, officials for the Massachusetts Chocolate Company deemed Flynn Avenue in Burlington a suitable location for the new factory because of its close proximity to an excellent supply of fresh milk and the possibility to create good shipping facilities for chocolate orders; the new site would function as a new company, rather than just an additional outlet for the existing Massachusetts chocolate firm.5 Originally, the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company aimed to produce a new line of chocolate coatings, but a large portion of the factory's operation and labor actually went toward fulfilling government contracts (due to World War I at the time). These government contracts actually kept the Flynn Avenue Chocolate plant operating from day to day.6 As construction for the new building neared completion in January 1918, the company received an order commissioned from the Belgian government in order to one million dollars worth of products to be shipped overseas in order to provide relief for troops the Burlington Free Press newspaper proclaimed "Just leave it to a Vermonter to deliver the goods" .7 The order required nine million cocoa beans for production and included orders for products such as Number One Almond Milk Chocolate, Orange Sweet Chocolate, Vanilla Sweet Chocolate, Wan-Eta Cocoa and Norfolk Sweet Chocolate—overall, this amounted to approximately four to five hundred tons of chocolate in total.8
Despite the apparently strong construction of the Vermont Milk Chocolate buildings, a horrible fire in May 1918 completely destroyed the newly built structures.9 The Burlington Free Press recounted the grizzly details of the fire (which began by an explosion in the shipping room) by proclaiming the lives lost and injuries sustained in the "conflagration thatwiped out Burlington's newest industry".10The shipping room where the explosion occurred quickly swept through the entire building (filled with chocolate products)—terrible winds in Burlington that night and the lack of enough available water to combat the flames worsened the situation.11 Henry Winterbottom, an employee of the nearby Vermont Hardware Company, gave the first notice of the fire to the police; spectators in the neighborhood also began to push several cars filled with chocolate products (ready for shipping and transport) away from the burning building in order to save the products.12 Given the extremely awful extent of the fire and the continuing World War, the Free Press article also made it clear that "this was not the work of a German, Austrian or other alien enemy".13 Although the initial design and construction was meant to withstand fire or other destruction, the Norway Pine factory floors and iron reinforcements reportedly "crumbled like strands of silk".14 This speaks to the important details of building construction in regard to industry and function, but the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company persisted and contractors immediately began rebuilding the Flynn Avenue Burlington plant: John Walker, president of the company proclaimed "we want to ensure the residents of this town that we have not lost faith in Burlington".15 According to Burlington City Directories, the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company persisted in a reduced capacity at 208 Flynn Avenue until approximately 1948.16
Burlington City directories for years in the early, mid and late 20th century highlight the usage of the factory buildings at 208 Flynn Avenue for multiple functions in addition to milk chocolate production—many companies utilized the interior spaces for retail and wholesale purposes after the great fire of 1918. Although over the years the number of companies to hold business at 208 Flynn reaches almost twenty, there are several companies persisted in the physical space. These companies and their respective establishment dates at 208 Flynn Avenue include the Canada Broom Handle Company (1925), United Maple Products Limited (1931), The Everpure Ice Corporation (1931), Westinghouse Electrical Supply Company (1935), Canada Dry Bottling Company, Inc. (1949), and the McAuliffe Paper Company, Inc. (1954).17 Therefore, over the years, 208 Flynn Avenue became somewhat of a "hodgepodge" of commercial activity; the similar occurrence of many varied businesses and individuals who utilize 208 Flynn avenue on a daily basis is consistent with its historical function after the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company stopped production just before 1950. Today, the site is home to popular companies and businesses including VCAM, Burton Snowboards, Chef's Corner Bakery and Core Studio Pilates (among many others).
The photographs in Figures 2-10 depict historic views of Flynn Avenue that encompass the property at site 208 as well as modern day photographs; this provides some insight into the changes that occurred at this monumental facility as well as its current usage. Since the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company fire of 1918, the structures that were rebuilt in place have been remarkably well preserved and largely contribute to the eclectic character of the neighborhood today.
Images (Part V)
Notes (Part V)
4. Burlington Weekly Free Press, May 2, 1918, 7. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Accessed on October 25, 2013 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072143/1918-05-02/ed-1/seq-7/#date1=1836&index=1&date2=1922&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&words=Chocolate+Company+company+Milk+Vermont&proxdistance=5&state=Vermont&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=vermont+milk+chocolate+company&andtext=&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1.
7. Burlington Weekly Free Press, January 10, 1918, 12. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Accessed on October 25, 2013 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072143/1918-01-10/ed-1/seq-12/#date1=1836&index=0&date2=1922&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&words=Chocolate+Company+company+Milk+Vermont&proxdistance=5&state=Vermont&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=vermont+milk+chocolate+company&andtext=&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1.
9. Burlington Weekly Free Press, May 2, 1918, 7. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Accessed on October 25, 2013 at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072143/1918-05-02/ed-1/seq-7/#date1=1836&index=1&date2=1922&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&words=Chocolate+Company+company+Milk+Vermont&proxdistance=5&state=Vermont&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=vermont+milk+chocolate+company&andtext=&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1.
16. See Manning's Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directory for the Year Beginning October 1948. (Springfield, M.A.: H.A. Manning Co., 1948), 263.
17. See Manning's Burlington, Winooski and Essex Junction (Vermont) Directory for the Year Beginning October 1925. (Springfield, M.A.: H.A. Manning Co., 1925), 70.; Ibid., 1931, 188; Ibid., 1935, 200; Ibid., 1949, 266; Ibid., 1954, 297-298.
Part VI: Flynn Avenue's Present Day Homage to its Industrial Past
Flynn Avenue, a neighborhood that clearly honors its manufacturing past through the persistence of its physical characteristics at present deserves a special place in the larger framework of Burlington's history. Although the physical structures previously discussed are no longer utilized for their original functions, it is important to note that manufacturing and industry still occurs on Flynn Avenue in various locations that were constructed more recently. The Switchback Brewery and McKenzie Country Classics Meat Company, located at 160 Flynn Avenue (built ca. 1970, adjacent to the Vermont Hardware Company's Howard Facilities) produce local beer and meat for distribution within the state of Vermont and beyond.1 In addition, two small-scale and individually managed production companies, Metalworks and Modern Vermont produce metalwork/welding and furniture, respectively, at addresses 205 and 195/201 Flynn Avenue; these buildings were presumably constructed in the late 20th century and are now utilized for artistically focused production.2 Figures 1-3 show the exteriors of these modern day manufacturers and their addition to the character of the neighborhood.
Finally, one last recent addition to the Flynn Avenue neighborhood speaks to the remarkable preservation of historic structures in the area: the publicly displayed sculpture entitled "File Under: Southern Connector, Waiting For…" by Burlington artist Bren Alvarez (Fig. 4). The sculpture stands on Flynn Avenue's north side, just across the street from the intersection with Briggs Street; its presence comments on the urban planning efforts of a proposed road construction through the south end that was designed to relieve traffic on Route 7. If this proposed project (still under review) occurs, the nature, association and feeling of Flynn Avenue will be dramatically altered and perhaps affected in a negative way. Artist Alvarez uses this piece to discuss both neighborhood preservation and the profession of urban planning, and she specifically placed it in its current location because it pertains to the exact central location of the proposed road construction.3 It is certain, however, that this interesting artwork attracts both tourists and locals because it contributes to the persistent eclectic and artistic character of the Flynn Avenue neighborhood.
Images (Part VI)
Notes (Part VI)
2. See Company Information: Metalworks Inc., Vermont. Accessed on October 28, 2013 at http://metalworksvermont.com/; Company Information: Modern Vermont. Accessed on October 28, 2013 at http://modernvermont.com/.
3. Green, Susan. "Miles of Files: A 'Connected' Art Puts Paperwork in Perspective." Seven Days, September 25, 2002. Accessed on October 29, 2013 at http://www.7dvt.com/2002/miles-files.
Flynn Avenue Timeline
Early 1880s—Industrial factories are not yet present on Flynn (then "Park") Avenue; the area includes the famous Oakledge Park, property belonging to the famous Webb family of New York City and Vermont and several residential structures along the eastern portion of the street (close to Shelburne Road)
1889—The heyday of the "Howard Park" fairground complex at 180 Flynn (then "Park" Avenue; space is updated during this time to include farm and agriculture exhibition spaces
1894—Sanborn Map Company begins first coverage of Flynn (then "Park") Avenue; 1894 map shows existence/operation of Lang & Goodhue Manufacturing Company and Burlington Shoe Company in operation on Flynn Avenue at Briggs Street
1901—Bondholders of Champlain Valley Fair Association begin transferring their bonds for the Howard Park property to the Lumiere North American Company; citizens of Burlington vote to exempt the company from taxes if they invest at least $50,000 in the business
1902—Lumiere North American Company buys Howard Park property from Champlain Valley Fair Association trustee for $11,000; manager of the North American Company F. J. White relocates from France to Burlington to outline plans for the new factory; very large fire at the intersection of Briggs Street wipes out Burlington Shoe Company and severely damages Lang & Goodhue property
1903—Lumiere North American Company buildings are completed and factory begins production of photographic materials in Burlington
1904—Burlington City Directories list Lang & Goodhue Manufacturing Company as operating business for the last time
1906—Sanborn Company Map lists Lang & Goodhue Manufacturing facilities as "vacant: no watchman"
1907—Vermont Construction Company moves into space at 207 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue and begins to produce structural iron pieces and brass castings
1908—Lumiere brothers give well-attended lecture at Williams Science Hall at University of Vermont about color photography
1911—Lumiere North American Company closes its doors in Burlington because company officials decide that photographic projects could be imported from France just as cheaply as they were made from scratch in Burlington
1912—Structures existing at 180 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue are completely vacant
1914—John J. Flynn of Burlington buys the Lumiere North American Company property at 180 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue for $17,000
1915—John J. Flynn transfers 20 acres of land (including lake frontage) not occupied by Vermont Hardware Company to E.L. Jones of New York City; Jones transfers this property to the Standard Oil Company of New York
1916—Vermont Hardware Company moves into existing spaces at 180 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue to begin wholesale retail operation
1917—William H. Edmonson designs the structure for the Vermont Milk Chocolate Company at 208 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue; Vermont Milk Chocolate Company formed as an offshoot of the Massachusetts Chocolate Company
1918—Massive fire at 208 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue wipes out entire Vermont Milk Chocolate Company structure; building is rebuilt immediately
1921—Vermont Construction Company incorporated into Vermont Structural Steel Corporation; company still exists in space at 207 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue
1925—Canada Broom Handle Company establishes space at 208 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue
1931—United Maple Products Ltd. and Everpure Ice Corporation establish space at 208 Flynn (then "Park") Avenue
1934—"Park" Avenue officially changed to Flynn Avenue
1935—Westinghouse Electrical Supply Company establishes space at 208 Flynn Avenue
1942—Louis McAllister documents road-widening projects on Flynn Avenue through photography
1946—Last year that Standard Oil Company of New York occupies space at 2 Flynn Avenue
1949—Canada Dry Bottling Company, Inc. establishes space at 208 Flynn Avenue
1950s—Vermont Structural Steel Corporation sees its most productive years
1954—McAuliffe Paper Company establishes space at 208 Flynn Avenue
Post-1950—Additional Structures at 180 Flynn Avenue are constructed for modern retailers; 195 and 201 Flynn Avenue ("Modern Vermont" and "Metalworks," respectively) are constructed
1970s—Vermont Structural Steel Corporation begins its gradual decline; property at 160 Flynn Avenue is built to accommodate what is now McKenzie Country Classics Meat Company and Switchback Brewery
1988—Vermont Structural Steel Corporation closes due to "fierce competition" and "too few construction jobs"
Present—180 Flynn Avenue occupied by Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace and Borough Gallery and Studio; 207 Flynn Avenue occupied by "Upstairs Antiques"; 208 Flynn Avenue occupied by VCAM, Burton Snowboards, Chef's Corner Bakery, Core Studio Pilates and many other individuals/businesses; sculpture by Bren Alvarez positioned on Flynn Avenue north of Briggs Street intersection
Flynn Avenue: Products Manufactured
1. Burlington Shoe Company Shoes
2. Enpro Environmental Remediation Products
3. Lang & Goodhue Horse Nail Machinery
4. Lang & Goodhue Hydraulic Reservoir Water Pump
5. Lang & Goodhue Pulp Machinery
6. Lang & Goodhue Steam Fire Engines
7. Lang & Goodhue Waterworks System Supplies
8. Lumiere North American Company Autochrome Photographic Plates
9. Lumiere North American Company Photographic Dry Plates
10. Lumiere North American Company Photographic Paper
11. McKenzie Country Classics Meat Products
12. Metalworks Vermont Welding Products
13. Modern Vermont Furniture
14. Standard Oil Company Oil
15. Switchback Brewing Company Beer
16. Vermont Milk Chocolate Company Norfolk Sweet Chocolate
17. Vermont Milk Chocolate Company Number One Almond Milk Chocolate
18. Vermont Milk Chocolate Company Orange Sweet Chocolate
19. Vermont Milk Chocolate Company Vanilla Sweet Chocolate
20. Vermont Milk Chocolate Company Wan-Eta Cocoa
21. Vermont Structural Steel Ornamental Castings
22. Vermont Structural Steel Building and Bridge Elements