This Place in History: Pavilion Building


At 'This Place in History' we're on State Street in Montpelier with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

"We're standing right in front of the Pavilion Office Building, which is part of the Capitol Complex. It has a really awesome story. So I've invited Paul Carnahan, who's a member of the Capitol Complex Commission to join us inside," began Perkins.

"This is a state office building. It looks like an historic hotel from the outside, but it actually houses the office of the Governor, the Attorney General and some of our other state officers. It dates from 1971 when they cut the ribbon on the front porch," said Carnahan. 

"It used to be a hotel. The first hotel on this site was built in 1807, which was when Montpelier became the state capitol . It had a very illustrious career as a very successful hotel, as you might imagine being right next to the State House. It was known as the 'third house'. The Senate, the House and then the 'third house' because so many legislators stayed here. But by the middle of the 20th century, this building became derelict. It was not a successful operation anymore and it closed in 1966. At about the same time, the State realized it needed more office space, the government's growing and there were plans to expand the Capitol Complex. And one of those plans was to tear down this building. And to build a fairly typical office tower," explained Carnahan.

"It was not easy. In fact it was a three or four year protracted fight about what to do with this building. This was in the late 60s and our awareness of the importance of historic buildings was growing. We had lost several historic buildings in Montpelier. People said, now wait a minute, this building has been here the entire time a state capital has been here. It's an integral part of the built fabric of this community, let's save it. The legislature got involved because it's a state building. The State bought the building and that was the fight. What should the State do about this building? So the State sold it to Pizzagalli, agreeing to buy it back. They hired an architect named Robert Burley, who was very interested in historic preservation. They disassembled this building, saving pieces of it. And then they constructed a steel-framed modern office building on this site. They preserved the facade and the side of the building facing the State House and made it look just like the original Pavilion," explained Carnahan.

"The walls that we see out there from the streets, those were torn down completely. A new building was built and then they pasted, for lack of a better term, this facade back onto this modern building," elaborated Perkins.

"Right. This was always envisioned as the home of the Vermont Historical Society and it was understood that the Historical Society would have exhibits here for visitors; and that the first floor, while the rest of this building was offices, the first floor would be a public space where people could get and appreciate the history of the building," concluded Carnahan.

Talking historic preservation in an old hotel...At "This Place in History'!

For more from our 'This Place in History' series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont's roadside historic markers, click here.

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