The Village of Bellows Falls is the largest population center within the Town of Rockingham. As a transportation and manufacturing hub, Bellows Falls became the “market town.”
Today it is served by Amtrak, the Green Mountain Railroad, and Greyhound. It is also the headquarters for the regional bus line The Current.
The first bridge across the 410-mile-long Connecticut River was constructed here in 1785. The Bellows Falls Canal was one of the first in the country, two decades before the Erie Canal.
Today, the tall clock tower of the brick Town Hall rises above a vibrant downtown with a reputation for innovative brick-and-mortar projects that combine economic development and historic preservation. Third Friday Art Walk features many Bellows Falls businesses and organizations. Residential neighborhoods filled with gems of Victorian-era architecture, known as “painted ladies” perch throughout town.
Nestled in the mountains of southern Vermont, Grafton is one of New England’s prettiest villages. Many of its beautiful and historic buildings have been restored by its residents and the Windham Foundation, so today’s town looks much as it did years ago.
Grafton’s uniqueness comes from being a real town, not a museum-like re-creation, with its citizens being its most valuable resource. It is a vibrant community, still holding the traditional Town Meeting with participation from a wonderfully diverse population of 600 people.
Trails beckon for a morning hike followed by a dip in one of the mountain streams or ponds. Grab a mountain or road bike and get your legs pumping. Or sit in the cool shade under a blossoming maple and laze away the days.
Walk the village streets. Visit the shops, galleries and museums. Linger a few days, and you will experience the beauty that surrounds these hills and come to embrace the peace and quiet charm.
Rockingham includes the villages of Bellows Falls, Saxtons River, and Cambridgeport, as well as Bartonsville and Brockway Mills.
All villages in Rockingham are part of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union, with five elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Independent Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, founded in 1875, is a co-ed boarding school that established an annual Winter Carnival in the early 20th century, contributing to the creation of New England’s winter recreation culture.
Rockingham is home to The Rockingham Meeting House, and a National Historical Landmark constructed in 1787-1801. It is the oldest public building in Vermont that still exists in a condition close to its original state.
Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the village is home to 133 historical buildings representing Greek revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne architectural styles.
With a full time population of les than 500, the number of residents swells considerably each Labor Day when more than 200 students arrive from approximately 30 states and 12 countries to the Vermont Academy.
Within less than half a square mile, the village is an active community. The Main Street Arts organization keeps the community alive with classes, events, and a theater group. Area crafters’ works are on display at The River Artisans Cooperative.
At the hub of the community on Main Street are the Saxtons River Inn & Pub and the Pleasant Valley Brewing company.
Walpole is a village of particular beauty and quiet charm. It contains many architecturally significant old houses, including several associated with Col. Benjamin Bellows, the town founder.
Walpole is a rural agricultural town and has a small, but active business district. In the spring, the same lilacs that inspired Louisa May Alcott to write “Under the lilacs,” let loose their fragrant blooms. Summer band concerts on the spacious common have become a cultural tradition.
The first bridge across the Connecticut River was built here in 1785 and is regarded as one of the United State’s most famous early spans. It connected Walpole with Bellows Falls.
The nearly 4,000 residents govern themselves with a select board and annual town meeting.
Westminster holds a special place in Vermont’s history. It is the oldest town in the State, established in 1735. The Westminster Massacre of 1774 marked one of the pre-revolutionary skirmishes between colonial forces and colonists. In 1777, Westminster Vermont declared itself an independent nation.
Other firsts are the first State Bank 1807 and the first Printing Office 1778.
Today, sheep, beef, milk, apples, and maple syrup, plus high quality organic vegetables and award winning cheese form the basis of its agricultural production.
Westminster has an artful combination of agricultural enterprises, rural living, business development, and employment opportunities, making it a great place to live and work.