‘Floating’ columns on Burlington mansion signal historic renovation

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In another week or so, gravity will re-assert itself at 326 College Street in Burlington.

For now, four 2-story wooden columns, each a yard-or-so wide, have no apparent means of support along the spread of the grand, west-facing porch.

Custom-made, down-to-earth pedestals will arrive soon for the fluted Doric columns, owner Mark Farrell assures us — and restoration work will continue on a building that dates back to 1830.

The hollow columns are in terrific shape, Farrell said Friday. To improve their chances of surviving another century, Farrell hired master carpenters with J. A. Morrissey Inc. to reinforce their carrying capacity from within.

Other work on the porch — including a fair bit of painting — should help restore some of the grandeur to a building that was erected for local dignitary Dr. John Peck and his family.

Subsequent owners have “butchered” the building, Farrell said.

In the early 1900s, William T. Harrington, Sr. converted the single-family home into apartments, according to Eric L. Martin, who authored a short description of the building for a University of Vermont website.

Farrell’s family bought the building in the late 1950s.

Housing 14 residential units, the Dr. John Peck House now straddles Federal, Greek Revival and Colonial Revival styles, according to its National Register listing.

Despite those impressive credentials, the building is not a big money-maker, Farrell said. He figures he’ll spend between $145,000 and $200,000 on the current project — an outlay that will dwarf rental income.

Still, Farrell likes the place: It’s where he has his office.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or joelbaird@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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