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Brattleboro (town), Vermont


Brattleboro (town), Vermont

Brattleboro, Vermont
Gothic Revival Municipal Center (1884) was the High School until 1951

Location in Vermont

Coordinates: 42°51′0″N 72°34′56″W / 42.85000°N 72.58222°W / 42.85000; -72.58222Coordinates: 42°51′0″N 72°34′56″W / 42.85000°N 72.58222°W / 42.85000; -72.58222

Country United States
State Vermont
County Windham
Chartered 1753
 • Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland[1]
 • Assistant Town Manager N/A
 • Executive Secretary Jan Anderson[1]
 • Total 32.4 sq mi (84.0 km2)
 • Land 32.0 sq mi (82.9 km2)
 • Water 0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Elevation 633 ft (193 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 12,046
 • Density 375.3/sq mi (144.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 05301-05304
Area code(s) 802
FIPS code 50-07900[2]
GNIS feature ID 1462049[3]

Brattleboro, originally Brattleborough, is a town in Windham County, Vermont, United States, located in the southeast corner of the state, along the state line with New Hampshire. The population was 12,049 at the 2010 census. It is situated along the Connecticut River, at the mouth of the West River.

Brattleboro is the oldest town in the state of Vermont and is noted for its vibrant arts community. The town is home to the respected Brattleboro Retreat, a psychiatric hospital and convalescent center, and the SIT Graduate Institute, a renowned graduate educational institution.


Abenaki land

Once known as "Wantastiquet", the area where Brattleboro lies is at the confluence of the West River and the Connecticut River.[4] The West River was called Wantastiquet in the Abenaki language, a word meaning "river which leads to the west", and is marked by Mount Wantastiquet at its mouth and the Wantastiquet Ponds at its source. The Abenaki would transit this area annually between Missisquoi (their summer hunting grounds) in northwestern Vermont, and Squakheag (their winter settlements) near what is now Northfield, Massachusetts. The band of Abenaki who frequented this area were called Sokoki, which means "people who go their own way" or "people of the lonely way". The Abenaki vigorously defended their land, which they called "Ndakinna," against European settlement in the 17th and 18th centuries (and especially during Dummer's War). Because the Abenaki had sided with the French in the mid-1700s, most of them were driven north into Quebec, opening the way for British – and later American – settlements in the area.

Frontier fort

To defend the Massachusetts Bay Colony against Chief Gray Lock and others during Dummer's War, the Massachusetts General Court voted on December 27, 1723 to build a blockhouse and stockade at what would become Brattleboro. Lieutenant-governor William Dummer signed the measure, and construction of Fort Dummer began on February 3, 1724. It was completed before summer. On October 11 of that year, the French attacked the fort and killed some soldiers.[5] In 1725, Dummer's War ended.

In 1728 the fort was converted into a trading post for commerce with friendly Indians. But in 1744, King George's War broke out, lasting until 1748. A small body of troops remained at the fort until 1750, after which it was considered unnecessary.

Although the area was originally part of the Equivalent Lands, the township became one of the New Hampshire grants, chartered on December 26, 1753, by Governor Benning Wentworth. It was named Brattleborough, after Colonel William Brattle, Jr. of Boston, a principal proprietor. Still, settlement was tentative until after the 1763 Treaty of Paris, when France abandoned the new world.[5]

With hostilities ceased, Brattleboro developed quickly, and soon was second to none in the state for business and wealth. In 1771, Stephen Greenleaf opened Vermont's first store in the east village, and in 1784, a post office was established. A bridge was built across the Connecticut River to Hinsdale, New Hampshire in 1804.[6] In 1834, the Brattleboro Retreat for the mentally ill was founded by the bequest of Anna Marsh. In 1844 the Brattleboro Hydropathic Establishment was opened by Dr. Robert Wesselboeft. This was the third water cure establishment in the country. Pure spring water was discovered near Whetstone Brook, and until "The Water Cure" closed in 1871, the town was a curative health resort.[7][8][9]

Mill town

Whetstone Falls provided water power for watermills, beginning with a sawmill and gristmill. By 1859, when the population had reached 3,816, Brattleboro had a woolen textile mill, a paper mill, a manufacturer of papermaking machinery, a factory making melodeons, two machine shops, a flour mill, a carriage factory, and four printing establishments.[5] Connected by the Vermont & Massachusetts Railroad and the Vermont Valley Railroad, the town prospered from the trade of grain, lumber, turpentine, tallow and pork.[10] In 1888, the town was renamed Brattleboro.[7][11]

Kipling wrote about local life in the early 1890s: heavy snowfalls, ox-teams drawing sledges, the small towns pervaded with what he called "terrifying intimacy" about each others lives. He recorded the dearth of men who had gone to seek their fortunes in the city or out west, and the consequent loneliness and depression in the lives of women; the long length of the workday for farmers, even in winter, often for lack of help; and the abandonment of farms.[12]

The first person ever to receive a Social Security benefit check, issued on January 31, 1940 was Ida May Fuller from Brattleboro.[13]


Brattleboro is located at 42°51′15″N 72°33′31″W / 42.85417°N 72.55861°W / 42.85417; -72.55861. Due to its location in the southernmost part of Vermont, the town is actually geographically closer to the state capitals of Albany, Hartford, Boston, and Concord than to its own state capital, Montpelier.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 32.5 square miles (84.0 km2), of which 32.0 square miles (82.9 km2) is land and 0.5 square mile (1.2 km2, 1.42%) is water. Brattleboro is drained by the West River, Ames Hill Brook and Whetstone Brook. The town is in the Connecticut River Valley; the eastern boundary (and Vermont state line) is the western bank of the Connecticut River. Hills and mountains surround the town.


Brattleboro, being the first major town from the Massachusetts border on Interstate 91, offers a mix of a rural atmosphere and urban amenities such as a large number of hotels. Brattleboro is a host to a number of art galleries and stores.

In 2007, Brattleboro passed a resolution designating itself a Fair Trade Town, becoming the second Fairtrade certified town in the nation after Media, Pennsylvania.

The town's densely populated center is at the very bottom of the Connecticut river valley. Because of the area's hilly terrain, and relatively little flat land, many buildings are on steep grades, closely bunched together; the topography has helped to create a semi-urban atmosphere.

Since the 1950s, suburban development has taken place outside the traditional downtown, in the west, south, and north of the township. The southern section of town is predominantly one- or two-family houses with a mix of triple deckers. Commercial and industrial operations are concentrated on the U.S. Route 5/Canal Street artery that cuts through the area. The town's high school and the Regional Career Center are located in this section.

The western section of town, which formally became a village in 2005, is mostly residential, with the state's largest mobile home park and several large planned developments.

The northern section of Brattleboro developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The area has little residential development and is dominated by large commercial and industrial establishments along Putney Road, including seven hotels located within a short distance of each other. C&S Wholesale Grocers made its headquarters here until moving them to Keene, New Hampshire in 2005; however, because of close proximity to Interstate 91, C&S has kept large shipping and warehouse operations in Brattleboro.

The outskirts of Brattleboro have a decidedly rural feel, with little housing development and boasting the last farms left in Brattleboro after the collapse of the dairy industry in the 1970s. At its peak, the area had over 170 farms; there are now only nine left. Brattleboro is also the headquarters of the Holstein Cattle Association.


Brattleboro experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with cold, snowy winters and warm to hot, humid summers.

Climate data for Brattleboro, Vermont
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 31
Average low °F (°C) 9
Record low °F (°C) −31
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.98
Source: The Weather Channel[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 12,005 people, 5,364 households, and 2,880 families residing in the town. Almost all of the population is concentrated in two census-designated places identified in the town: Brattleboro and West Brattleboro. The results of the 2010 census indicate very little change in the overall number of people living in the Town. Despite this, Brattleboro remains the most populous town along Vermont's eastern border.

The population density of the town was 375.3 people per square mile (144.9/km2). There were 5,686 housing units at an average density of 177.7 per square mile (68.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 94.06% White, 1.13% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.67% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 2.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.67% of the population.

There were 5,364 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.3% were non-families. 37.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 84.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $31,997, and the median income for a family was $44,267. Males had a median income of $31,001 versus $25,329 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,554. About 9.2% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.


Brattleboro employs a Representative Town Meeting local government, wherein its citizens are represented at-large by a Select Board of five members, and by several dozen Town Representatives elected from three municipal districts. The Select Board is considered the 'executive branch' of town government; its five members are elected to fill three one-year positions and two three-year positions. In turn, the Select Board hires and supervises a Town Manager.[15] The town's three districts also each elect a representative to the Vermont State Legislature.



Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, operates its Vermonter service daily through Brattleboro, between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont. Brattleboro is scheduled to become the last stop on the $70 million re-alignment of the Vermonter to the old Montrealer route (from Springfield, Massachusetts (the nearest urban center) through the college town of Northampton, Massachusetts and small city of Greenfield, Massachusetts to Brattleboro). This realignment – work for which is already underway – will be complete in late 2012 or early 2013.


The Brattleboro BeeLine operates throughout the town between 6:00 am and 6:30 pm, and is composed of the Red Line and Blue Line buses, which work in conjunction with each other to move residents throughout the T shaped street map of the town. Bus services, including the "Current" and the "Moover", run daily between Brattleboro and Bellows Falls, Vermont; between Brattleboro and Whitingham, Vermont, and along Vermont Route 30 to the northwest. In addition, Brattleboro is serviced daily by the national bus service Greyhound, which stops at a franchised terminal on Route 5.


Brattleboro is crossed by six highways, including one Interstate freeway. They are:

  • Interstate 91
  • U.S. Route 5
  • Vermont Route 9
  • Vermont Route 30
  • Vermont Route 119
  • Vermont Route 142

Vermont Route 9 runs from the New York border with Vermont, west of Bennington, traveling east through downtown Brattleboro, then running north to the New Hampshire border. Route 9's local names within Brattleboro include Molly Stark Trail, Marlboro Road, Western Avenue, High Street, Main Street, and Putney Road. Route 9 overlaps U.S. Route 5 from the intersection of Main and High Streets north to meet Interstate 91 Exit 2.

U.S. Route 5 enters Brattleboro at its border with the town of Guilford and runs northerly, through downtown, and eventually exits Brattleboro at its border with Dummerston. Route 5's local names are as follows: Canal Street, Main Street, Putney Road. Southbound, Route 5 also runs along Park Place and a part of Linden Street, following a one-way triangle at the north end of Main Street.

Vermont Route 30, considered one of the most scenic roads in Vermont, runs to the northwest along the southern bank of the West River. It has its southern terminus in Brattleboro at the intersection of Park Place and Linden Street, and exits Brattleboro at its border with Dummerston. Route 30's local names within Brattleboro are Linden Street and West River Road.

Interstate 91, originating in Connecticut and terminating at the Canadian border, runs through town in a semi-circumferential north-south manner around the town center. Three exits serve the town. Exit 1 serves the southern part of town; Exit 2 serves the western section of town connecting to local ski areas via Route 9, and Exit 3 serves the northern section of town and New Hampshire.


Print media

The town is home to the Brattleboro Reformer, a daily newspaper with a circulation of about 11,000, and the Commons, a nonprofit community weekly newspaper with a circulation of 6,700.[16] The Parent Express, a community newspaper, circulates in Brattleboro, Keene, New Hampshire, and throughout Windham County, Vermont and Cheshire County, New Hampshire.[17]

Radio and television

There are several radio stations which broadcast from Brattleboro.


Arts and events

Brattleboro has a thriving arts community. The town is listed in John Villani's book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, in which it ranks number nine among towns with a population of 30,000 or under.

On the first Friday of every month, an event known as the Gallery Walk[23] is held, in which galleries, artists, and arts organizations open their doors to the public to display new work or hold performances. Included in the organizations that participate are the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center,[24] the Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery,[25] the In-Sight Photography Project,[26] River Gallery School,[27] Through the Music,[28] and the Windham Art Gallery.[29]

Other notable arts organizations in Brattleboro include the Brattleboro Music Center,[30] the Vermont Theatre Company,[31] the New England Youth Theater,[32] the Brattleboro Women's Chorus,[33] the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA)[34] the Vermont Performance Lab[35] and the Vermont Jazz Center.[36]

Annual events in Brattleboro include:

  • The Winter Carnival in February.[37]
  • Harris Hill ski-jumping competition in February.[38]
  • Women's Film Festival in March.
  • Maple Open House Weekend in March.[40]
  • River Gallery School benefit auction in March.[41]
  • Taste of the Town in May.[42]
  • Slow Living Summit, late May or early June, just prior to Strolling of the Heifers weekend[43]
  • Strolling of the Heifers the first full weekend in June.[44]
  • Vermont Theatre Company's Shakespeare-in-the-Park in June and July.[45]
  • Brattleboro Free Folk Festival, begun in 2003.
  • Brattleboro Literary Festival in October.[46]

Sites of interest

  • Brattleboro Film Festival (first weeks of November)
  • Brattleboro Historical Society & Museum
  • Brattleboro Museum and Art Center
  • Fort Dummer State Park
  • Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery
  • New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA)
  • New England Youth Theatre
  • Slow Living Summit
  • Strolling of the Heifers
  • Vermont Theatre Company
  • Brattleboro Literary Festival

Notable people

In popular culture

  • Brattleboro is the setting for much of H. P. Lovecraft's story The Whisperer in Darkness.[47]
  • Brattleboro is the birthplace and burial site of William Morris Hunt, noted and influential 19th-century American painter.
  • Brattleboro is mentioned repeatedly in David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest.[48]
  • The popular Joe Gunther mystery series written by Archer Mayor is largely set in Brattleboro.[49]
  • Brattleboro is where the title character in Tom Taylor's play Our American Cousin meets his English relatives, leading to his trip to England where the events of the play take place.
  • In the comedy movie Super Troopers, Lieutenant Arcot "Thorny" Ramathorn suggests that Brattleboro would be a good town to move to since his station is going to be shut down.
  • The psychiatric hospital in the 2011 action movie Sucker Punch is located in Brattleboro.
  • Brattleboro voted in support of a measure calling on the town's police force to arrest and indict President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in March 2008. The vote was 2012–1795.[50]
  • Brattleboro placed 11th on "The 20 Best Small Towns in America of 2012" list by Smithsonian Magazine in May 2012.[51]

See also

Vermont portal



Further reading

External links

Template:NIE Poster
  • Town of Brattleboro Official Website
  • DMOZ
  • Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Brattleboro Historical Society
  • -logo.svg 

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