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Pavilion Office Building

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1971, Robert Burley Associates. 109 State St., City of Montpelier

The nineteenth-century brick facades to the east of the state house present the green and Main Street with arched window heads, a two-story wooden veranda, and a mansard roof. Around the corner on Taylor Street they change into those of a modern office building, the product of one of the stranger sagas of historic preservation in Vermont. In 1807, the donor of the land for the state house, Thomas Davis, built an adjacent tavern as a lodging house for legislators. It was later enlarged, wrapped with verandas, and named the Pavilion before being demolished in 1876 to make way for a ninety-room luxury hotel. For the new Pavilion, Boston architect George C. Ropes reused bricks from the old, replicated its lobby fireplace, repeated the wraparound veranda, and added a mansard roof.

In 1965 the state purchased the run-down but cherished Vermont icon, intending to replace it with an office building. Public protest and a counterproposal by Vermont architect Robert Burley to adapt the existing structure aroused a spirited debate, with some legislators embracing Burley's idea and others maintaining that “Victorian” buildings were not worth saving and could not be reused at a reasonable cost. Pizzagalli Construction Company presented a compromise, building an entirely new Pavilion office building, replicating the front and state house side facades, and reusing some veranda spindles, granite sills, and keystones from the former structure. Though adaptive reuse became routine in the years after its 1971 opening, the Pavilion is an important landmark in Vermont in the transition from scrap-and-build development to an ethic of historical stewardship.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


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Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Pavilion Office Building", [Montpelier, 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, 304-304.

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