Lakeside is a mill suburb with a tight plan and density unlike any other company housing development in Vermont, though it has close parallels in the streetcar suburbs of the Northeast and Midwest. It occupies an isolated location between Lake Champlain and what then was the Rutland Railroad line at the south end of Burlington. Lakeside's developer and manager was the Queen City Cotton Company, formed by Burlington investors with George Draper and Sons, of Hopedale, Massachusetts, who manufactured automatic power looms used in the mill.
The original 118 × 302–foot, three-story, brick cotton mill facing south on Lakeside Avenue was designed by F. P. Sheldon of Providence, Rhode Island, and constructed by C. H. Sears of Fall River, Massachusetts. Due to the efficiency of its power looms, the com pany prospered, and in 1899 it again hired the team of Sheldon and Sears to double plant capacity. This time they built a sprawling, one-story addition lit by a saw-toothed monitor roof. Increased demand during World War I led to the addition of a fourth story on the original mill. During the 1920s the mill reached its peak, employing more than 600 workers, before competition from Southern mills, the Great Depression, and then a bitter strike led to its demise in 1937. In 1943, the mill was confiscated as underutilized by the wartime U.S. government and Bell Aircraft located their ordinance division here. By the time the war ended, Bell employed more than 2,700 people. In 1947 General Electric purchased the buildings to manufacture aircraft armaments tested at the Underhill Firing Range. Now operated as a division of General Dynamics, the plant remains one of the state's most important industrial employers.
The company's residential neighborhood began in 1895 with two, two-story, twelve-family tenements at 40 and 42 Conger Avenue. In 1899, corresponding with the mill's expansion, the company built nine fourplexes and twenty-five duplexes on Central, Conger, and Harrison avenues around a central public square green, all eventually defined by curbed streets, sidewalks, and tree plantings. Two groceries, a general store, barbershop, billiard hall, and nursery made the community largely self-sufficient, while the Burlington Traction Company streetcar line ran along nearby Pine Street, providing access to downtown commerce.
Although many progressive models of industrial housing development were in circulation at this time, the exact source for the development's layout is unknown. It may have evolved from the central square and tenting arrangement of the Lakeside Methodist Camp Meeting, which occupied the site earlier in the nineteenth century. In 1919 five more duplexes filled in several lots, and the company developed the square into a baseball park and provided a visiting nurse. During the 1920s, the development housed 135 families, all of whom had at least one person employed at the mill. To recruit new employees, the company advertised the advantages of its suburban housing in both English and French newspapers and it attracted many French Canadian and other immigrants. In 1937 when a strike closed the mill, Queen City Cotton's management of Lakeside ended and tenants were given right of first refusal to purchase their dwellings. Although few descendants of those families remain today, the sense of a tight-knit community fostered by the original development layout remains.