St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

St. Johnsbury Athenaeum
Established 1871
Location St. Johnsbury, Vermont

St. Johnsbury Athenaeum
The Athenaeum in 1906
St. Johnsbury Athenaeum
Location St. Johnsbury, Vermont

44°25′6.38″N 72°1′15.72″W / 44.4184389°N 72.0210333°W / 44.4184389; -72.0210333Coordinates: 44°25′6.38″N 72°1′15.72″W / 44.4184389°N 72.0210333°W / 44.4184389; -72.0210333

Built 1871
Architect John Davis Hatch III
Architectural style Second Empire
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 96000970
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 18, 1996[1]
Designated NHL July 18, 1996[2]

The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, is significant because of its construction, the American landscape paintings and books from its original role as a public library and free art gallery, and funding by Horace Fairbanks, manufacturer of the world's first platform scale. The art collection contains a number of Hudson River School paintings. This building retains a strong, Victorian (French Second Empire) flavor of the 19th century.[3]


When the library opened, the collection consisted of 9,000 books selected by bibliographer William F. Poole.

Art Gallery

In 1873, Fairbanks added a small art gallery. This is now one of the few art galleries in the United States that features late 19th century Victorian-style design which highlights intricate paint/stencil schemes, detailed moldings, creative natural lighting, and unique painting installations.

The walls and floor are black walnut. The art gallery is lighted naturally from an arched skylight in the ceiling. Cases on two sides of the room contain art books in tooled leather bindings. Gilt-framed paintings are displayed.[4]

One hundred works of art are displayed. Besides originals by American artists, there are also copies of European masterpieces.[4] The major part of the collection is by American and European artists from the late eighteenth century to the middle nineteenth century. Hudson River School painters include Asher B. Durand, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Sanford Gifford, a Luminist painter, James and William Hart pastoral landscapes with cattle. Western scenes are portrayed by Samuel Colman and Worthington Whittredge. Dominating the room is a canvas, ten by fifteen feet, of the Domes of Yosemite, by Albert Bierstadt.[4][5]

European painters represented by original works of art include: Bouguereau ("Raspberry Girl"), Félix Ziem ("Venice"), Charles Euphrasie Kuwasseg, and Louis Pinel de Grandchamp.[6]

See also

  • Other examples of Second Empire


External links

  • Athenaeum at a glance
  • Photos of Athenaeum
  • St. Johnsbury Community Archives