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Downtown Information Booth Re-Purposed

The re-purposed information booth’s classical style is still evident at its new, temporary location adjacent to the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Photo by J. Gregory Gerdel.
Originally opened at its former prominent location at the intersection of State and Elm streets in 1995, Montpelier’s stately, Pavilion-style information booth has been relocated to the side yard of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library on Main Street, where it is serving as a temporary electrical utility shed.

Inundated, along with most of downtown Montpelier, by the July 10 record flood, officials decided that it was no longer serving its original purpose — to attract visitors to downtown Montpelier and provide them with information about the city and its businesses.

The building’s designer, architect Sandra Vitzthum, explained that when the booth was created, traveler information was provided on maps and brochures. During the past ten years, travelers have increasingly researched destinations on their phones and computers. Although the booth was designed with double Dutch doors so it could be staffed by a person inside, it eventually became self-serve for visitors, with the brochure racks less-well stocked and maintained in recent years.

At the time the booth opened, Vitzthum recalled that some people felt it was “too Disney-ish.” In fact, the building was designed with the classical proportions of the “golden triangle,” and constructed entirely with local materials for its timber frame and slate roof. The “INFORMATION” lettering carved in the frieze board above the door was carved by John Miller of Sign Design. 

Former State Representative Karen Kitzmiller, right, and Jamie Cope, who painted the structure, posed at the doorway when the booth was opened in 1995. Courtesy photo.
Concerned that the gap between the Statehouse and downtown — made up of mostly parking lots — kept visitors from exploring, former Montpelier resident and business owner Jon Anderson spearheaded fundraising for the booth in the early 1990s. Vitzthum noted that the little building’s neat and distinctive style led to her receiving commissions to design similar small buildings for a variety of uses.

“It was wild how such a little building would become an attraction!” she said.

Although Vitzthum is not offended at the booth’s less than ceremonious relocation, “It is sad how people have a very short memory and lose the significance of things,” she said. After local politician Karen B. Kitzmiller’s death in 2001, the building had been dedicated in her memory. Kitzmiller had served as a state representative for Montpelier.