The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Welcome back to a travelogue of a series of adventures experienced in the month of September, wherein an Amtrak rail pass was utilized to visit several other cities in the northeastern section of the USA. This section details a 72 hour interval spent in Burlington, Vermont. There are two other posts preceding this one, and this is hardly the last Burlington one.

Pictured above is the summit of Church Street, where the Unitarian Church (aka the Brick Meeting House) has towered over the City of Burlington since 1817. The original bell for this church was cast by Paul Revere, and its steeple was replaced in 1958 after a lightning strike caused catastrophic damage to the original model. Worshippers who call this building home are the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Church Street Marketplace is a pedestrianized four block open air shopping district, and has been since 1981, one which is encapsulated by a larger Burlington Historic District. The shot above looks down the hill from the properties of the Unitarian Church, at the intersection of Pearl and Church Streets. The ornate building on the left is an apartment building, the one on the right is a Masonic temple.

There are a few national chains located here – CVS, LL Bean, that sort of thing. A series of locally owned shops, selling all sorts of stuff you probably don’t need but want, await shoppers. There’s also a series of restaurants and bars, and at the bottom of the hill is Burlington City Hall.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, a former Mayor of Burlington back in the 1960’s hated commercial signage impinging on and hanging over the public way so the City has strict laws about such matters. There’s all sorts of rules that apply to you in this particular area that are ignored or don’t apply just a couple of blocks away. No smoking or radio playing, for instance. There was a not insignificant number of homeless people and or junkies milling about in this area, panhandling. Everybody has to make a living, I guess.

Saying that, the Burlington Police Department and municipal government seemed to practice a somewhat lighter touch than the NYPD and NYC would regarding this particular population. It’s not a difference of scale, either, both law enforcement and other municipal employees were personally witnessed by me as being respectful and kind towards the street people. Maybe they kick the crap out of them somewhere else that the tourists can’t see, like NYC does, but I didn’t sense that sort of move as being the local modus operandi.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of New England goodness in Burlington, and I could have spent days wandering the streets and marveling at sights like the Flynn Theater Marquis pictured above. Officially known as “The Flynn” in modernity, this theater complex opened in 1930 and presented both Vaudeville Shows and movies. It was renovated, restored, and reopened in 1981, and serves Burlington as a live music and theater venue for several groups, including the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. The Art Deco Societies of America lists the restoration of the Flynn as being one of the 10 most important restoration projects in the entire country.

The hour was growing late on our first day in Burlington, so Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself made a right on College Street and headed down the hill towards the shoreline of Lake Champlain where we had spotted a waterfront cocktail establishment earlier in the day. Sunset was coming.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the side of the 1840 built Follett House at 63 College Street pictured above, which we passed on the way to get our sunset drink. It’s the last of a line of Greek revival mansions which once overlooked the water from the ridge it sits on, and was built by a wealthy Real Estate and Railroad Executive named Timothy Follett. It’s on the register of National Historic Places too, but that seems to be old hat for Burlington.

I try to maintain a nearly military schedule when traveling, incidentally, one which is the utter opposite of my night owl NYC persona. I wake up early, often before sunrise, and am showered/dressed/walking out of the door by 6:30 – 7:00 a.m. In the rest of the country, breakfast fare is not served after ten in the morning, you’ve got a ninety minute interval for lunch that starts at 11:30, and they start rolling up the sidewalks by about an hour after sunset so if you don’t eat dinner by seven or so – it’s a microwave burrito at a gas station convenience store for you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We finished our first full day in Burlington therefore quite petered out, and a couple of pints of beer were gladly quaffed. We had done the waterfront walking trails heading north, swung through and took a look at Lakeview Cemetery, visited the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum and its trails, visited Church Street, and now we were going to wind down Day One with a drink while watching the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself descend.

Tomorrow – sunset at Lake Champlain.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

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  1. […] sessions, the Ethan Allen Homestead and Intervale in immemorial lore, Church Street and downtown in waxen mask. Burlington was analyzed during sunset in doubly potent, we visited Shelburne Farms in appalling […]

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