John Purple Howard Historic Bust
Restoration of UVM’s John Purple Howard’s Historic Bust:
- John Purple Howard, 130-year-old work of art, returned to his perch in front of Old Mill on UVM’s campus
- Alpine Building Restoration prepared and upgraded the site to give the bust a safe and sound pedestal
Who was John Purple Howard and why was he bust-worthy?
A native son of Burlington, born in 1814, he learned the hotel business from his father and later went into the same industry in New York City with his brother. The Old Exchange, Howard House, and the Irving Hotel were among the ventures that allowed him to retire and return to Burlington a relatively young and decidedly rich man. He was also a generous one. His gifts to Burlington, which totaled nearly $300,000, included the Howard Opera House and block, proceeds that went to support the city’s home for destitute children.
Howard’s philanthropy extended to UVM, as well. He funded the construction of a new medical college building (the predecessor to Dewey Hall), an endowed chair in natural history and zoology, the fountain on the Green, and an 1885 renovation/facelift for Old Mill that created the building’s Victorian façade we know today. The bust of Howard wasn’t a case of the philanthropist celebrating himself; it was a gift from the citizens of Burlington in recognition of all he had done for the city and the university.