beginnings of battell block
As seen in this photo from 1905, the Battell Block has been the heart of Middlebury’s downtown for more than a century. Built after the devastating 1891 fire by Joseph Battell, the largest landowner in Vermont, the block set the standard for future building throughout the rest of the town. Construction took place between 1892–1898, and its completion solidified Middlebury as a “major commercial center,” according to Glenn M. Andres’s A Walking History of Middlebury. Andres goes on to describe the architecture of Battell’s landmark building:
It is a “fireproof” structure, with stone piers, steel girders over broad show windows, and paneled brick upper floors. The basic structural theme unifies the building and permits for variations in rhythm and dimension and for such embellishments as the corner tower (originally with an arched additional story and a conical cap—removed after the hurricane of 1950), the elaborate brickwork of the cornice, and the charming bay windows along Merchants Row without disrupting an overall sense of unity.
For a detailed history of Middlebury visit A Walking History of Middlebury by Glenn M. Andres.
Photos this page: Collection of Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Middlebury, Vermont.