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Wells Richardson Office Building

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1883, A. B. Fisher. 127 College St., City of Burlington
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

This four-story block exemplifies the evolution that took place in commercial building design in the final decades of the nineteenth century. It retains a basic midcentury format with a street-level storefront with office stories above, but the Italianate details seen on Hilas Roby's adjacent building at 117–125 College Street of 1874 have given way to creating visual interest through the use of contrasting materials and more abstract design elements. Fisher divided the facade vertically into five equal bays with pilasters, the central ones on the ground floor in iron. Across these bays are registers of windows accentuated by light-colored rock-faced granite lintels and sills, and spandrels with textured brickwork and terra-cotta inlays that read almost as continuous horizontal bands. Corbeling and brickwork have supplanted the oversized, classically derived cornice that was typical for earlier commercial blocks.

The building served as the head offices and laboratory of the flourishing Wells Richardson Company. Once employing more than 200 people, and with sales offices around the world, the firm occupied a square block in downtown Burlington, where it manufactured everything from patent medicines to food coloring and Diamond Dyes. After Wells Richardson closed its Burlington office in 1942, the building was renovated (1973–1974) into a retail outlet for Bennington Potters North and its historic facade preserved.

Also surviving from the complex are the company's factory at 1 Lawson Lane (1884, A. B. Fisher), which was converted to offices; the boiler house (c. 1905) at 118 Pine Street, converted to a book store; and the printing plant (1897, W. R. B Willcox) at 110 Main Street.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Wells Richardson Office Building", [Burlington, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 161-162.

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