Midcentury Modern Architecture in Vermont

When Jen and I arrived in Palm Springs, CA for vacation this past February, we could barely believe that a place abounding with so much incredible architecture could exist. Down every street, and around every corner, another incredible midcentury modern design greeted us. From residences, to office buildings and banks, to fast food and retail buildings, Palm Springs bursts with the MCM aesthetic, and is has been lovingly preserved.

After we got home we started wondering if there were any MCM buildings in our own backyard that we hadn't discovered or simply didn't notice. Of course Vermont is known more for its quaint 1800s farm houses and generally a more Colonial style, but we had noticed a few gems here and there. We frequently drove by and admired what is now The Spot on Shelburne Road in Burlington:

There's been some objection lately to The Spot's wind turbine. Once a gas station, it is similar in style, though perhaps a bit less grand, to what is now the Palm Springs Visitor Center - also a former gas station:

Wondering if there were more buildings from this period, Jen did a little digging and found Devin Colman's incredible site, vermontmodern.com. Devin is a Historic Preservation Review Coordinator for the State of Vermont and researched and put together vermontmodern.com in the mid-2000s as part of his graduate studies at UVM. His site is an incredible resource for modern architecture enthusiasts with an interest in Vermont. We decided to check out a few of the buildings he mentions on his site, and after a few adventures around the area, we found some others that are worth noting.
One of our first stops was the Heywood House:

According to Devin Colman's site, this residence in the Hill Section of Burlington was designed in 1959. Over the years different owners had altered it significantly - including one owner who constructed "a makeshift shed roof constructed on top of the original flat roof." Luckily, the present owner removed the roof and other alterations and restored it to its original design.

While biking last fall on the wonderful bike path near the lake in Burlington, we stumbled upon a neighborhood north of Burlington in Colchester with a few really cool homes - mostly MCM-looking ranches.

Love the clerestory windows. 

This one:

somewhat reminded me of the "Swiss miss" style homes we saw in Palm Springs:

Fewer palm trees in Vermont, obviously :)

I've admired the drive through roof of the Key Bank on Bank Street in Downtown Burlington. 

I don't know any history behind this, but it sort of has that almost kidney shape that was popular in the 50s. 

Another 1960s style building in Burlington is the Burlington Electric Department headquarters on Pine Street. Built in 1969, its style does have some elements of MCM.

I love the font. Do people still drop off their electric bill checks via the drive-through? 

Finally, the University of Vermont's McAuley Hall, a dormitory built in 1957, is a great example of midcentury architecture. They are doing some construction work on it, and this photo doesn't do it justice.

Unfortunately we can't all live in Palm Springs and be constantly surrounding by midcentury treasures designed by the giants of architecture. But if you take a closer look at your city you might find some hidden gems worth checking out, and worth preserving. 

Know any other really cool midcentury buildings in the area? Drop us a line! 


Welcoming the Queen of Rockabilly to the Green Mountain State

Whether you're a rocker or a mod or something in between, a performer will be coming to South Burlington's Higher Ground that can't be missed - The Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson.

If you don't know who Wanda is, take a quick look at this clip from the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions where Roseanne Cash offers some Wanda 101.

We at Vermodernist tend to shy away from any music that has too strong of a Country lean, but Wanda manages to balance the "billy" with just enough "rocka" that once you start listening you'll find her songs stuck in your head for days.   Here's one of our favorites:

With contemporaries like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash this sweet woman with a softspoken speaking voice belts out a song like she's just smoked two cartons of Marlboros while chugging Jack Daniels all whilst sporting copious amounts of fringe and hair so high it's an art form. 

Now in her 70s Wanda is still rockin' as can be seen on this clip from her appearance on the David Letterman Show:

If you'll be in the Burlington area on Thursday, July 7th at 8pm definitely check out Wanda's show at Higher Ground.  And please pay respect to the Queen by dressing to impress!


Announcing the Launch of jeneric Vintage Eyewear!

We're sorry that Vermodernist has been radio-silent over the last couple of weeks, but we have a good reason!

Eric and I are pleased to announce that we’ve put our passion for retro style into practice with the official launch of jeneric Vintage Eyewear!  (www.jenericvintage.com) – For vintage specs that are anything but generic!  Our shop features vintage eyewear primarily from the 50s & 60s for men and women. 
From cateye frames to Mad Men-esque horn-rimmed glasses that complete your retro style, we’re offering the best vintage specs around.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Check us out at www.jenericvintage.com
And spread the word!
Jen & Eric