The BCA Center

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The BCA Center
Front of The BCA Center. The inscription pays tribute to its history as the Ethan Allen Firehouse.
Location135 Church Street
Burlington, Vermont
TypeContemporary arts center
OwnerBurlington City Arts

Burlington City Arts (formerly The Firehouse Gallery, or The BCA Center, or the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts) is an art gallery, arts education/studio center, and cultural events space in Burlington, Vermont. The building was originally built as the Ethan Allen Firehouse on Church Street in 1889. The building is owned by the City of Burlington. Burlington City Arts uses the building for its exhibits, lectures, and educational programs.[1] The gallery has been open since 1995.[2]


The Ethan Allen Firehouse is a community landmark in downtown Burlington. It was designed by local architect A.B. Fisher and completed in 1889. With an 85-foot bell tower, the Firehouse ranked as the tallest building in Burlington in 1889. It began its life as home to the Ethan Allen Engine Company No. 4, one of Burlington’s seven volunteer fire departments. In 1927 the Burlington Police Department took over the building for 40 years.[3][citation needed]

After the police department moved to South Winooski Avenue in 1967, it was unoccupied for two years and fell into a state of disrepair. The building was scheduled for demolition in 1973 but community interest compelled the Board of Aldermen to stop the demolition plans and put those funds towards the stabilization of the building.

A number of service operations took up residence there in the years that followed, including the offices of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, and the University of Vermont’s Church Street Center.

BCA first began developing the concept of an arts center in 1995, soon after the Firehouse Gallery moved into half of the ground floor. The Ethan Allen Firehouse was selected for this concept.


In 1999, the City Council voted to transform the firehouse into the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts. BCA hired an architect for the renovation[4] and in the spring of 2001, they began construction. After a few months progress stopped when a large crack developed on the north wall and the building sank by about 4 inches (100 mm). After much stabilization, construction resumed.

To complete the renovation, Shelburne Museum returned the original bell back to the Firehouse tower.

The BCA Center (formerly Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts) opened to the public in 2002. It includes a community darkroom and photography studio; artist-in-residence studio; multimedia conference facility for lectures, film series, and panel discussions; and Resource Room and Library with public meeting space and Internet access.

The BCA Center galleries[edit]

The BCA Center presents “thought-provoking exhibitions, supporting innovative and emerging artists, and engaging the public through exposure to high-quality artwork, exhibition-related discussions, and arts activities.” Their exhibitions and education programming attempt to build and sustain audiences for contemporary art outside of major urban centers.[5]

Lorraine B. Good Room and Bill & Nicky Roth Room[edit]

The Lorraine B. Good Multi-Media Lecture Hall and Conference Center is a rental space where community organizations hold lectures, exhibitions, etc.[6]

Classroom and Resource Room[edit]

The Art Education Studio accommodates the educational programming and classes. The Artist Resource Room is open to the public and provides an eclectic selection of art books, periodicals and online resources.[7]

Roof and Cupola[edit]

In 2001, BCA Center learned that the Shelburne Museum hoped to give the original bell back to the Firehouse tower. Ravaged by years of water, damage, a re-engineering and renovation of the tower as well as a concentrated fundraising effort took place. The bell was hoisted back into its home on September 12, 2002.

See also[edit]

List of museums in Vermont


  1. ^ "Burlington City Arts".
  2. ^ "The BCA Center - Burlington City Arts".
  3. ^ Burlington Police Department Archived 2007-11-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "John Anderson Studio: Home - Vermont Artist & Architect John Anderson".
  5. ^ "Burlington City Arts: Gateway to Art & Culture - Burlington Vermont". Archived from the original on 2009-06-08.
  6. ^ "Second Floor". Archived from the original on 2011-10-17.
  7. ^ "Burlington City Arts: Gateway to Art & Culture - Burlington Vermont". Archived from the original on 2009-06-08.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°28′35″N 73°12′46″W / 44.476519°N 73.212813°W / 44.476519; -73.212813