Although skyscrapers are usually associated with cities like New York, Vermont has a diminutive version, but which, nevertheless, towers over its nineteenth-century neighbors on Merchants Row. Like its big-city cousins it has a steel frame. After a fire in 1928 claimed the Baxter Bank and Opera Hall, Carl Hinsman, director of the Howe Scale Company and son-in-law of John A. Mead, who had built the Mead Building (RU40) after the previous major downtown fire, acquired the lot and erected this building as a “service” to the community during trying economic times. Its dark red and tan brick and terra-cotta facade has a granite-faced ground story, and the upper-story windows are set between vertical piers that rise uninterrupted to the cornice, separated by squared spandrels. Boston architects Hutchins and French crowned the structure with a clock in the center of its attic story, topped by a ziggurat-like stepped roof surmounted by a beacon that was intended as an airplane navigation aid. The facade wraps around three side bays, but plain brick walls continue from here to the rear. The illusion of height and modernity on the front facade is an effective one and this seven-story brick building has the look of a big-city skyscraper. When completed the Service Building was the tallest building in Vermont and still stands not far from that mark.
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