Montpelier Historic District
Photograph courtesy of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Buildings of the Montpelier Historic District
Photographs courtesy of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Montpelier was a small isolated village nestled in the valley formed by the Winooski and North Branch rivers until 1805, when the city was chosen as Vermont's capital. Like many capital cities, Montpelier was selected for its central location and accessability to roads and waterways, the only methods of transportation available at the time. By the mid-19th century Montpelier's status as a government center attracted other institutions to the slowly growing town. The most significant of these was the National Life Insurance Company, which located its headquarters in Montpelier in 1848. Transportation methods were much improved when the Vermont Central Railroad connected a spur route to the city in 1849, and again in 1873 when the Montpelier and Well River Railroad connected the town to the Connecticut River Valley. These two institutions, the railroad and National Life Insurance, stimulated the greatest period of growth and construction in Montpelier's history, the last half of the 19th century. Despite this, Montpelier's slow growth over the past two centuries has resulted in the city's distinction as the smallest capital city of all the states.

Today, the 450 buildings that comprise the Montpelier Historic District reflect the town's prosperous past, during which time many high style and vernacular examples of various 19th century architectural styles were constructed. Such variety of styles, and the mix of domestic, commercial, religious, and institutional buildings, speak to the slow but continuous growth of the town. While the Vermont State House is the focus of the district, other significant buildings include the Pavilion Building, State Street's Federal style residences, the Italian Renaissance Revival Kellogg Hubbard Library (a free private library since it opened in 1895), the 1891 headquarters of the National Life Insurance Company (constructed of Vermont brick and now occupied by the Vermont Department of Agriculture) and the 1880 depot for the Montpelier and Wells River Railroad (now a bank, beauty salon and offices). The 1820s Federal style Vogue Shop, at the district's main intersection of State and Main Streets, was damaged by fire, but successfully restored in 1998 with the assistance of a federal historic preservation tax credit. As a whole the historic district is a well preserved collection of the essential buildings comprising any 19th century New England town, as well as a reflection of the major architectural styles of the century.

The Montpelier Historic District, in Montpelier, Vermont is roughly bounded by Memorial Dr., Bailey Ave., Hubbard Park, Vine St., and Hubbard St. Residences are private and not open to the public, but many of the businesses, institutions and government buildings welcome visitors. A walking tour is available. Further information can be obtained from the State of Vermont's Central Region Visitors Center, at 134 State St., open 8:00am to 8:00pm every day.

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