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Bellows Free Academy

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1930, William H. McLean. 71 S. Main St., City of St. Albans
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

The most striking of Vermont's Classical Revival public schools is this one built on the eve of the Great Depression. Since 1861 the high school had occupied the handsome Italianate Franklin County Grammar School building (now the Historical Society) on the site of the town's first school overlooking Taylor Park. After six decades, the school had outgrown the venerable building and its much-used Academy Hall was outmoded. When a fifty-year trust established by railroad magnate Hiram Bellows came due in 1929, the community decided to use it for a new building on the site of Bellows's former home. William H. McLean of Boston designed a grand structure to accommodate 500 students. The three-story brick facade with stone trim is organized with a central entrance pavilion and slightly projecting end bays. The center of the facade, with triple entrance doors, is marked by colossal Corinthian columns that carry an entablature topped by a stone-framed clock. The classical vocabulary carries to the interior as well, where an entrance with engaged Corinthian columns, a Greek key frieze, and a marble statue of Mercury opens into a two-story auditorium lined with Corinthian pilasters and light fixtures incorporating classical urns and figures. These features are surprisingly intact, and the school retains its original exterior aspect, not affected by later additions carried out at the rear.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Bellows Free Academy", [St. Albans, 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, 212-212.

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