Located on the southern end of the Upper Valley, Windsor, Vermont is a small New England town with a rich history. The town of Windsor played a pivotal roll in Vermont’s history and was the location for the signing of the Constitution of the Vermont Republic in 1977, when Vermont declared independence from the British Empire.
The Town of Windsor, Vermont
Windsor, VT is located across the Connecticut river from Cornish, NH and connected to the New Hampshire side of the river by the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge. The Cornish-Windsor covered bridge is a must see when visiting the area. Windsor is home to more than 40 historical locations including the Old Constitution House.
History of Windsor
The town of Windsor, Vermont was named after Windsor, Conn.. Windsor was chartered in 1761 by New Hampshire’s first colonial governor, Benning Wentworth through what is known as the Benning Wentworth Grants or the New Hampshire Grants. The New Hampshire Grants were established to grant land to companies and individuals who would develop the land in return. Land grants were made all throughout the Upper Valley between 1746 and 1764, most occurring in 1761.
Windsor, Vermont was settled by Captain Steele Smith and his family. Natives of Farmington, Conn., the Smith family moved to Vermont and settled the town of Windsor in the summer of 1764. Capt. Steele Smith and his family lead a group of pioneers northward along the Connecticut river and was the first settlement to arrive in Windsor, Vermont. He became owner to vast amounts of land in the area and was a prominent public figure who played an active roll in the early history of Windsor and Vermont as a whole.
In 1777 a group of men met at a tavern in Windsor, Vermont, now known as The Constitution House, to sign the Constitution of Vermont. Independence from the British Empire was declared when the Constitution of Vermont was signed. The constitution was held from 1777 to 1791, when Vermont became the 14th State. The 1777 constitution was the first to move towards prohibition of slavery, grant suffrage to men who did not own land, and establish free public education. The current version of the Vermont Constitution was adopted in 1793.
Windsor, VT quickly became the states largest town and was an epicenter for business. Between 1820 and 1835, Windsor saw a boom of trade and agriculture which lead to the building of the first dam. The construction of the dam across Mill Brook gave the town the water power it needed to expand industry and thrive as a manufacturing center. Factories which made products like furniture, tin goods, machinery, leather goods and other goods made their way into Windsor.
A government contract to manufacture firearms was awarded to Robbins and Lawrence in 1846. They had a factory in Windsor as well as many more throughout New England. The manufacturing process that Robbins and Lawrence used to make firearms was state of the art for the time. Using machines to construct interchangeable gun parts was a valuable asset of the company and is said to be the spark of the precision machine tooling industry.
Due to it’s location on a major waterway with smaller streams emptying into it, Windsor held an edge where commerce was concerned. The economy being headed by manufacturing blossomed and eventually became the first town in Vermont to break ground for railroad construction. The Windsor Station brought visitors and tourists from out of state to the area, creating an economic boom. The Windsor Station connected Windsor to out of state markets and increased commerce significantly through the mid 19th century.
Windsor began it’s history with the New Hampshire Grants and became a very important part of Vermont History. Being the location of the signing of the Vermont Constitution, Windsor, Vermont is known as the birthplace of Vermont. Windsor acted as the capital of Vermont until Montpelier became the official state capital in 1805.
Things To Do In Windsor, Vermont
Windsor offers a unique self-guided walking tour of the historical sites throughout town. You can find a guide for this walking tour at the welcome center or at the town library. It’s a unique tour which will bring guide you past the town’s historical structures. Along with the guide, you can also grab the QR codes from signs located along the route for audio narratives.
While the Robbins and Lawrence factory is no longer in operation, there is a museum in it’s place which is open to the public. The American Precision Museum is located in Windsor, Vermont in the 1846 building which held the Robbins and Lawrence Factory. The American Precision Museum is located on South Main St. and is open every day from 10am until 5pm from Memorial Day Weekend through October 31st. There are set admission fees; Sunday admission is by donation.
The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge is a treat for the eyes. Spanning the Connecticut river, connecting the banks of Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont, the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge is the longest two span covered bridge in the world. If you’re visiting the areas, it’s worth driving through!
If it’s mountain biking you’re interested in, you’ll find an amazing 30 mile trail system that passes through Windsor, VT. The Ascutney Trails run through Windsor, West Windsor and Weathersfield, Vermont. If you’re looking for adventure, the Ascutney mountain bike trails may be just what you need.
The Path of Life Sculpture Garden is a must see for anyone visiting Windsor, Vermont. Situated on a 14 acre parcel of land, the Path of Life Sculpture Garden is home to 18 works of art. You can visit any time of year and hike the grounds, snowshoes are available at Great River Outfitters next door in the winter time. The Path of Life Garden is available for hiking, meditation, yoga, picnicking and even offers a great camping experience with two full size Tipis!
Harpoon Brewery Tours is another unique opportunity in Windsor, Vermont. At Harpoon Brewery, you can not only enjoy a nice meal with a freshly brewed beer. You can also enjoy a brewery tour, which lasts about an hour and ends with a sampling of Harpoon’s finest.
A treat for the eyes, at Simon Pearce Factory Outlet in Windsor, Vermont you can watch master potters and glassblowers working on their craft. The factory is open daily from 10am to 5pm to watch the glassblowers and M-F 10am-3pm to watch the potters at work. At the outlet you’ll be able to shop second-quality products at discounted prices as well as artists first quality pieces.
A unique experience only available in Windsor, Vermont is the Artisans Park. Located at 71 Artisans Way, the park is located just off exit 9 on Interstate 91. The Artisans Park has something for all of your sense, from visual and textural delights of glass and pottery, the sculpture garden to delightful odors of local brew and locally made cheese and maple products. It’s a one stop Windsor, Vermont attraction where everyone in the family will find something to enjoy.
Living in Windsor, Vermont
The town of Windsor, Vermont is home to a portion of Mount Ascutney and rests on the western bank of the Connecticut river. Windsor is situated on just under 20 square miles of land with very little water aside from the aforementioned river to the east.
Home to nearly 3800 people, Windsor, Vermont is a quiet Vermont town with a lot to offer. Being a quintessential small New England town, you’ll find only a few stop lights and a lot of friendly faces. Continuing on with local tradition, the town is sprawling with trades people and artists who love the town’s rural setting and rich history.
The Windsor, Vermont School District serves students who are in grades kindergarten to twelfth. The two schools serving the district are Windsor State Street School and Windsor High School, home of the Windsor Yellow Jackets.
Throughout Windsor, you will find a vast amount of locally owned businesses which contribute to the local economy including employment. While there are a fair amount of employment opportunities in Windsor with all the locally owned shops, factories and even Mount Ascutney Healthcare Facility, there are still those who commute to the Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire area for employment either at DHMC, Dartmouth College or surrounding businesses.
Commuting from Windsor to DHMC is made easy by The Current, otherwise known as Connecticut River Transit. The Current is a bus which has an Upper Valley Commuter line which runs from exit 9 on I-91 to major employers in the Lebanon and Hanover area of New Hampshire. The Upper Valley Commuter lines also makes stops beginning a far south as exit 6, making it convenient for those who live to the south of the Upper Valley to take advantage of the bus line as well.
Windsor continually offers a lower cost of living than towns located towards the major cities of the Upper Valley. With a median home values around $150,000, Windsor is one of the least expensive places to buy a home in the Upper Valley. There is an array of home types in Windsor, from single family homes to multi-family buildings and complexes. Homes in Windsor range from quaint country homes to large farms and estates. Windsor, Vermont is a great place to live, explore and hang your hat at night!