BURLINGTON – A popular and historic building has been temporarily closed this week as the city of Burlington asks the Ethan Allen Homestead to file the proper building permits for what is now the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum. The structure, which was once the home of Ethan Allen, was built in 1787 by Ethan Allen himself, but city officials say this is no excuse for not filing correctly with the proper authorities.
“It’s stunning that we’ve let this home be grandfathered in for so long,” said permitting official Noah Shepsons. “This place is not only full of code violations, but we can’t find any record of Mr. Allen submitting paperwork for the original construction. The current owners are going to have to get their ducks in a row if they want to continue to use what is clearly an illegal facility.”
The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is a private, not-for-profit organization that is not affiliated with the city of Burlington itself, although the two entities have generally been supportive of each other. Homestead representatives say they are surprised at the sudden desire for paperwork from the permitting office.
“This building has been here for almost 250 years,” said Arya Kidden, who volunteers for the museum. “Vermont didn’t even exist as a state when it was built. Who was he supposed to have filed the paperwork with? Nobody was getting permits back then! It’s just ridiculous.”
“True,” admitted Shepsons, “most buildings didn’t get the proper permits back in the late 1700s. But those buildings had the good sense to fall down a long time ago. If Mr. Allen had wanted his house to stay up for this long, he should have gotten the permits to do so. We take these sorts of things very seriously around here.”
The house will be allowed to open again once the permitting process is complete, which should take no more than six years now that Shepsons has agreed to expedite the process.