PLACE: Lake Champlain Feed


Burlington, Vermont native Edward P Hatch bought NYC department store Lord & Taylor in 1879. He also owned the Lake Champlain estate, Red Rocks, that became one of Burlington's most beautiful and popular public parks.

I've been writing and posting about Red Rocks this week, so a couple of days ago my daughter G and I decided to take a hike up the Red Rocks trail. It's not far from our house, and we've hiked it before - she many more times than I - but I never bothered to read the sign before:

  Red Rocks Park sign, south Burlington Vermont

Sign at Red Rocks Park, South Burlington, Vermont.

"Beginning in 1888, this large property was part of an annual summer retreat for the family of Edward Hatch, Jr. who managed the famed Lord & Taylor department store chain in the late 1800's. Mr Hatch took up residence for several summers in the former Hotel Vermont adjacent to City Hall Park in downtown Burlington. The City of South Burlington subsequently purchased the site with federal assistance from the Land And Water Conservation Fund in 1970."

Wait a minute!! Lord & Taylor??? I practically grew up in Lord & Taylor. It's was one of the oldest  department stores in New York City when I was a girl in the 1950's. I'm sure I remember riding the rickety old wooden escalators to the upper floors of it's now landmarked building at 38th and 5th.

“The department store began in an era of a hub-and-spoke transportation system for cities, before the automobile,” Tedlow says. “In Chicago, for instance, the large downtown department store, Marshall Field’s, became in and of itself The Brand. And for a store like that in, say, 1870 or 1880, the competition was basically mom-and-pop shops. Department stores were a new mode of retailing. They became destinations—they became places where you shopped not solely for procurement but for entertainment."  Adam Gopnik, Under One Roof, The New Yorker, Sept. 22, 2003

Lord & Taylor began as a dry goods store on Catherine Street (Manhattan's Lower East Side) in 1826. Subsequent moves brought it further and further north, to Broadway and Grand, then to Broadway and 20th Street, which became part of  the "Ladies Mile" destination.

Lord & Taylor, ladies mile, James H. Giles architect, 19th century department store, shopping NYC "The architect James H. Giles developed a five-story mansard-roofed scheme in cast iron that was widely praised. The building rises like an expanding crystal structure, an intricate pattern of crisply decorated blocks and spiky plant forms that seems to prefigure the William Morris patterns of the 1880's. The entire corner tower is angled, with a tall rectangular mansard pavilion on top, and the roof line still has much of its original, lacy cresting."  Christopher Grey NY Times May 7, 1995


So, Lord & Taylor is in its new digs in the beautiful cast iron building when, in 1879, Eward Hatch, of Burlington Vermont, takes over the reins. 

 Edward P

Edward P SEPT 21, 1909- Burlington VT, Edward P. Hatch, for many years President of the dry goods firm of Lord & Taylor, New York, died at the Van Ness Hotel in this city to-day from heart disease, at the age of 77. He had spent the Summer here for the last forty years. ....Edward P. Htch was born in Norwich, Vt. on July 11, 1832. He was the son of a village physician, Dr. Horace Hatch, whose own father had been one fo the pioneers of the town and had helped to clear the forest for his home with his own hands...When Edward Hatch was 15 years old he entered a store at a salary of $4 a month, one of his chief duties being the packing of wool [? wood?] Two years later he came to New York and entered the store of Robinson & Co. on Broadway as an entry clerk....[goes on to work for Wilcox and Gibbs sewing machines, makes a forturne, retires and...] In 1879 however, the opportunity came of reorganizing and carrying on the affairs of the house of Lord & Taylor, and Mr. Hatch, as the head of the reorganized firm, entered the world of business again. Being impressed with the commercial value of the firm's name he retained it, and only a small part of the general public knew whose brain it was that was working behind the old firm name. Until five years ago he carried the firm on alone. Then he organized it into a corporation capitalized with $2,500,00 preferred and $3,000,000 common stock, he being the President.... Many years ago Mr. Hatch purchased Red Rocks, a splendidly wooded estate on Lake Champlain, south of Burlington. He constructed a permanent stone road for many miles near Mallet's Bay. Along the road he set many drinking fountains. His interest in making improvements of this kind throughout Vermont continued to the time of his death. His body will be buried near Lake Champlain." Meanwhile, back in Burlington, Red Rocks had - and still has- some great swimming places, from a tame beach to massive cliffs for the foolhardy to jump from. If  bathers were to buy their suits in 1879, the year Hatch took over Lord & Taylor, this is what they'd have been wearing

  Lord & Taylor, bathing suits, june 14 1879
Bathing suits at Lord & Taylor's, 1879

If the bathers, or picnickers wanted to get around the estate in those days, or a bit later, they could have ridden in a buggy like this

  View of lake champlain from red rocks burlington vt
View of Lake Champlain from Red Rocks, Burlington VT. Postcard from PSAW ephemera collections. This is the same image as on the Red rocks sign.

Alas, when daughter G. and I hiked up to recreate the view, we found the trees had filled in most of the roadway, and we ended up with this.

  G at red rocks, view at red rocks, south burlington vermont, lake champlain
Red Rocks, view over Lake Champlain. Photo Liza Cowan

But we were happy, and the view is still spectacular. Maybe next time we'll find some old fashioned bathing costumes.


I just can't get enough of these vintage postcards. The graphics...the history. So good. Here are some more I got today:

  Postcard burlington vt scene in battery park Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections
Scene In Battery Park, Burlington VT. Postmarked 1907. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

 Built as a military camp during the War Of 1812, Battery Park history may be martial, but contemporary use is recreational.  In the summer there are concerts, there's a playground that my kids used to love. And the view, like so many views of Lake Champlain, is breath taking.

  Battery Park Burlington Vermont 1906 detail, couple on bench,
Scene In Battery Park, Postcard detail.

  Postcard vermont lake champlain and adirondacks from Burlington liza cowan ephemera collections
Vermont, Lake Champlain and Adirondacks from Burlington. Postmark 1906. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

  Postcard  2 burlington vermont rock point liza cowan ephemera collections
Rock Point, Burlington VT, no postmark. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.

Rock Point is to the North of the city. Much celebrated in postcards, this thrust fault rock formation is geologically interesting:

One of the geologically most famous localities in Vermont (along with the world’s oldest reef in the Champlain Islands) is the Champlain Thrust, visible along the shoreline of Lake Champlain at Lone Rock Point, in Burlington, Vermont. In order to understand its significance we need to first understand what a “thrust” is. A “thrust” (geological shorthand for a “thrust fault,”) is a type of fault. A fault is a fracture in rocks where there has been movement. There are several types of faults and a “reverse fault” is one where older rocks have been pushed up over younger rocks. Geologists call a reverse fault where the fault is at a low angle to the Earth’s surface, a “thrust fault”." source

  Postcard burlington vermont rock point liza cowan ephemera collections

Rock Point, Burlington VT, postmark 1908. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.

  Postcard burlington vermont sunset rock rock point liza cowan ephemera collections
 Sunset Rock, Rock Point, Burlington VT Penny Postcard, no postmark. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.

  Sunset rock, rock point, burlington vt, detail
Sunset Rock, Rock Point, Burlington VT Detail. I love the guy at the railing.

In the South End of the city is Red Rocks, which I've shown before, but here are a few images I got recently:

  Red rocks summer house 1
Rock Road Summer House, Red Rocks Burlington VT. on Lake Champlain postmark 1927. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

  Red rocks summer house detail
Rock Road Summer House, Red Rocks, Burlington. Detail

That's it for today's tour. More to come for sure.


I've been rawther busy lately, plus my printers and scanner were on the fritz. But I've been busy gathering images, and here are a few of my recent treasures.

  Postcard burlington vermont dock scene liza cowan ephemera collections
Dock Scene, Burlington VT  Liza Cowan ephemera collections

The postmark on this card is 1968, but the image and probably the printing are earlier. You never see wooden boats any more in the harbor, which I think is a shame.

   Postcard burlington vermont Harbor liza cowan ephemera collections
Burlington VT postcard, Harbor, early 20th Century. Liza Cowan ephemera collections

This one is not postmarked, although it is addressed an written on. It calls for one penny postage. Most of those industrial buildings are gone, and in their place is a lively mixed use waterfront, bikepath, restaurants, businesses.

  Burlington_waterfront circa 2009
Burlington Harbor in a more recent view.

At the turn of the last century Burlington's Waterfont was home to many businesses. Not the  tourist, tech and green economy businesses we are famous for now, but real manufacturing. Lumber was big.

Dock frontage of 4,000 feet, Shepard & Morse Lumber, Burlington. Burlington Board Of Trade 1889

But with all the beautiful water and scenery, pleasure boating is always popular.

Lake Champlain Yacht Club Building, Burlington Board of Trade 1889

A bit farther south from the Waterfront you will find Red Rocks, a particularly scenic park. I've shown you other vintage images of Red Rocks from my collections, and now here's a recent acquisition.

  Postcard burlington vermont lake champlain from red rocks women taking photo liza cowan ephemera collections
Lake Champlain from "Red Rocks", Burlington, Vt. Postmarked November 10, 1908. Liza Cowan ephemera collections.

And check out how the gal on the left is snapping a photograph.

  Postcard detail burlington red rocks women taking photo circa 1906 liza cowan ephemera collections
Burlington Red Rocks Park, gals snapping a photograph, 1908. Liza Cowan ephemera Collections.


  Brownie Camera Ad, Duke University Collection
They could have been using this Brownie Camera from Eastman Kodak.


This summer marks the 400th Anniversary of Samuel Champlain discovering  invading the body of water known by the Abenaki as Biawbagok - the waters in between, and by the Iroquois as Caniadari Guarunti, the door to the country. The hoopla over the quadricentennial of Lake Champlain now begins.

Ephemera fans can rejoice not in Native American images but in a bounty of European-American images produced over the last hundred or so years. Here are but a few I've collected:

Steamboat Vermont 1809 postcard 

Postcard. Steamboat Vermont. copyright 1909. PSAW ephemera collections

Steamboat Vermont postcard back 

Postcard back.

"This is a picture of the first Steamboat on Lake Champlain. (and the second in the World) It was built and launched at Burlington Vermont, in 1808, just 200 years after Champlain had entered its waters in a birch bark canoe.

The owners and builders were two brothers, John and James Winans; it was called the "Vermont;" and it was 120 feet long, 20 feet beam, 167 tons measurement; with an engine of 20 horse power, and commanded by Capt. John Winans"

Lake Champlain, steamer Ticonderoga, Lake Champlain, burlington 

Postcard. Steamer Ticonderoga.  Ephemera Collections PSAW.

Steamboat Ticonderoga web

The Ticonderoga is now at the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne VT.

"Built in Shelburne in 1906, it operated as a day boat on Lake Champlain serving ports along the New York and Vermont shores until 1953. In 1955, the Ticonderoga was moved two miles overland from the lake to Shelburne Museum in a remarkable engineering effort that stands as one of the great feats of maritime preservation."

Rock Point, lake champlain, huge rocks, tall rocks, rocks on shoreline, pink sunset, hand tinted postcard, vermont 

Rock Point, Lake Champlain. Postcard. PSAW ephemera collections

lake champlain, red rocks, auto 1910, women looking over fence, island lake champlain, burlington vt

Lake Champlain from Red Rocks. Postcard PSAW ephemera collections.

Red Rocks is about a mile from Pine Street Art Works. 

Diamond dyes, 1890's, children's clothing. clothing dye, burlington vt, wells richardson & Co, pug, girls with doll stroller, girls with little dog, girl carrying basket, park bench, sad girl, haughty girl 

Wells, Richardson & Co, Diamond Dyes Trade card. PSAW ephemera collections

Wells, Richardson & Co was a huge business in Burlington during the late 1800's up to the 1930's. I've always imagined that this image takes place at Red Rocks. See the Lake in the background?


 It's probably a good omen when a car trip starts out with seeing a truck with your name on it.

Cowan truck
Cowan truck. Vermont Rt. 89.

I took some time off last weekend with my parenting partner, Laurie Essig, and our two kids to visit our old house in Greenport, NY. We sold the house about five years ago and none of us had been back since then.

Naturally, we visited the carousel.

I hadn't remembered that there are several Charles Dare horses on the Greenport Carousel, which was a wonderful surprise for me.

Charles dare horse carousel greenport
Charles Dare horse, Greenport Carousel. Liza Cowan photo.

I got to spend a little time at the Greenport Shipyards, site of my Shipyard Archeology photo series. I only had my point and shoot camera with me, and I just can't get the same quality I got from my trusty Nikon F100 and a roll of film, but still it was nostalgic just walking around.

Siding and Rudder. Greenport Shipyard. 2008. Liza Cowan photo.

On our way home we stopped for a few hours in New York City so Laurie could tape a TV Show about Gay Marriage. (No, we're not. Families have all kinds of shapes and configurations.) The show was the Laura Flanders show on GRITtv, and although the kids wanted to go shopping during the taping, we did manage to catch the last few minutes and hang out in the control room to see the backstage operations. You can watch the segment here

Control room laura flanders show
Control Room - taping the Laura Flanders Show.

And then a quick hello to the panel and Laura.

Laura flanders show
Laura Flanders, left.  Laurie and kids, right. Not in this picture is panelist Kenyon Farrow, whose excellent blog is worth taking a look at.

So if you watch the show and Laurie briefly mentions her kids and parenting partner, that's us. I'm in the Vermont media fairly often, usually about art, so it was fun to be on the sidelines and out of the spotlight.

The best part about travel, when you know things are going really right, is when you are happy to get home. We were all glad to cross Lake Champlain and be back in Vermont again.

Lake champlain, ferry, charlotte vermont, essex ny
Charlotte, VT and Lake Champlain from the Lake Champlain Essex/Charlotte Ferry.