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The Block

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1887, George Guernsey. Main St. facing the green, South Royalton

The Block is one of the most striking commercial compositions to be found in a Vermont village. In the aftermath of a disastrous Main Street fire in 1886, South Royalton merchants hired Guernsey to create a building with a unified, continuous facade overlooking the village green. The Block contained twelve individual stores behind a cohesive elevation that is cast iron on the ground floor and Italianate brick on the upper floor (three stores at the Windsor Street end were lost to fire in 1968). Rather than producing a strictly uniform facade, Guernsey designed a theme and variations. Rhythms determined by the sequence of show windows, store entrances, and doors to the upper floors are echoed in the second-floor brick paneling, window variations, and the profile of the roof parapet. The parapets present a variety of corbels, arches, and brick friezes. The composition is remarkably intact and exemplifies the architectural possibilities of unity within diversity. Not uncommon in village commercial districts, fires gave Guernsey the opportunity to design a number of other “union” blocks, including the 1893 Block in Essex Junction.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "The Block", [Royalton, 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, 355-355.

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