The Church Street Marketplace – the spot for dining, shopping and socializing – has been an iconic part of Downtown Burlington for 40 years now.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger spoke at the steps of City Hall Thursday to recognize the milestone. He was joined by Vermont Sen, Patrick Leahy and the masterminds behind the Marketplace, those who envisioned a special place for Vermonters and visitors decades ago.
“The memories that come back. Church Street is special for my family. Marcel and I bought our wedding rings up at the end of the street,” said Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.
For more than 35 years, Church Street co-founder Bill Truex led the international design firm, TruexCullins Architecture and Interior Design. He was also the head of the Chittenden County Planning Commission.
“We basically tried to make a pedestrian environment out of what was mostly cars and buses at that time,” said. “We asked the traffic commission if we could close the street for one day,” said Truex.
In the early 1970s, Truex met his business partner Pat Robins, and together they developed the Marketplace. They say it first started out as small, street events.
Days quickly turned into weeks as more and more merchants began using the space for side walk sales, art fairs, and other events. In September 1981, the Marketplace became what it is today.
“We invented the idea of having a separate space with a separate tax base and separate oversight run by a group of people just responsible for this,” said Co-founder Pat Robins.
State leaders say the 40th anniversary of the marketplace is a time to celebrate its success.
“Indisputably, the Marketplace is the heart of Burlington’s Downtown. It’s here that we welcome over a million and half neighbors and visitors every to Burlington and to Vermont,” said Weinberger.
“When we were in lock down, it was a place to take a walk. And then when political discourse exploded, this was the place to have your voice heard,” said Marketplace Director, Kara Alnasraw.
Beginning next Saturday, September 18, community members can celebrate The Marketplace Birthday Bash with activities, music, and discounts up and down the street.
“This is a crown jewel for Downtown Burlington. A true treasure for the entire state,” said Leahy.