6.26.2011

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! 


1 comment:

  1. I really like the designs of these houses. They're very unique in some ways. Thanks a lot for the photos.

    virtual office malaysia

    ReplyDelete