A John Roberts House on King Street

Today’s video, https://youtu.be/bnk41va1p1E, is about a house I saw on King Street in Burlington, VT, that looked like it had been built by John Roberts.  He was a local builder/contractor who worked between the 1870s and 1890s in Burlington until he moved to Philadelphia. 

Mr. Roberts had a penchant for dressing up an otherwise non-descript vernacular house.  Since he often built Queen Anne Style homes (Queen Anne Style homes have OODLES of decorative elements.  Just when you think no one could possibly have added another thing, hold on, there’s more!), he knew and understood how and where to add elements to a house.

“This small one-and-a-half-story, wood-frame house is a good example of the adaptation of a simple vernacular type into popular housing in a more “urban” setting. In form and plan, the house is the two-room cabin used for modest farm and village homes in Vermont since the eighteenth century.

Beginning with A. J. Downing’s The Architecture of Country Houses (1850), it regularly appears in pattern books and reports on workers’ housing as a small “workman’s cottage.” Here it is oriented gable end to the street to fit on a small urban lot, a bay window is centered in the gable end, a small porch on the left side shelters the main entrance, and it is decorated with elaborate Queen Anne stickwork siding. It is one of four identical houses constructed side by side by local contractor John Roberts after King Street was extended to this block in 1885 by feed and grain dealer C. P. Smith, who built the houses as rental units. Roberts, listed as a “contractor and builder” in directories of the time, is thought to be responsible for numerous houses, identical but for varied Queen Anne details, built on infill lots throughout Burlington during the 1880s. Roberts himself resided in a vernacular Italianate-style house extant at 227 N. Willard Street.”-https://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VT-01-CH27

I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment as I offer some backstory about my day of filming the last 3 days of videos.  I started on Adams Street, but could find no parking anywhere.  So, I drove to King Street and parked in the second to last block.  I saw the numbers increased heading uphill.  I had no idea the tenement houses would be at the very TOP of King Street!  4-5 blocks of glorious UPHILL walking.  Not the happiest of campers.

After I filmed the tenement houses, I was walking back down to my car.  Across the street, I saw that yellow house.  My first thought was “that looks like a John Roberts house”.  I must have stood there for a good 10-15 minutes trying to decide if I wanted to record a video.  Clearly, In opted to do so.  Before uploading it, I googled it and sure enough it was, INDEED, a John Roberts House!  His style was so distinctive I was able to identify it.  That was really cool!

Beyond the fact that I was glad to be right, I’m tickled to share a video of such an interesting building with you.  It’s a short video, less than 3 minutes.  My bet is, if you’re taking a walk in Burlington, VT, or maybe Philadelphia, PA, you’ll begin to notice a house’s elements and wonder…did John Roberts build this? 

Note the design elements on this non-descript vernacular style house. Diamond pattern is on both sides. Side porch. Lattice work on gable end. Hood over the front window. That window was a bay window. The house is 1.5 stories.

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