With the exception of the Service Building (RU39), the buildings lining the east side of Merchants Row between Center and Washington streets in Rutland City form a well-preserved, representative ensemble of brick commercial buildings from the second half of the nineteenth century, typical of Vermont's larger cities around 1900. In 1852 the floodplain of Otter Creek down the hill from Rutland village became the intersection of three railroads. This made it the largest railroad junction in Vermont and created some valuable commercial real estate: land that sold for $60 an acre before the railroads sold for up to $3,000 an acre in 1853. The Bardwell Hotel 1852 at the corner of Washington Street incorporates the oldest surviving building on the floodplain. It was built by master mason J. W. Hickox of Syracuse, New York, who had erected the engine house and a machine shop in the Rutland and Burlington Railroad yard then across the street.
The rest of the buildings, while varied in design, are all three and four stories in height and conform to the formula of storefront and upper stories surmounted by a cornice that was standard for commercial buildings by the time of the Civil War. The Morse Block 1865–1867 at Center Street is one of Vermont's only flat-iron buildings two smaller examples are in Burlington's Old North End, and like the Bardwell and another block in the row, its mansard story was replaced by a full story in the late twentieth century. The most sophisticated design is 110 Merchants Row, which is credited to Rutland architect J. J. R. Randall because of its similarity to his other work and the fact that he opened his office in 1866 on the second floor. With a marble entablature defining each story and a third-floor entablature with modillions topped by a parapet, the facade is divided into three parts by pilasters. The marble window treatments reinforce this tripartite, symmetrical arrangement with segmental-arched openings in the center and round-arched openings on each side.
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