Preserve America Community:
Bennington, Vermont (population 15,473) was chartered and named in 1749 by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth, the first town in the territory now known as Vermont. The town's original 1761 settlement was populated by Congregational Separatists from Connecticut and Massachusetts in the area known today as Old Bennington.
These early settlers resisted land claims from the New York colony and formed a local citizen militia headed by Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain Boys. This militia later played a crucial role at the Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777, a prelude to the surrender of British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga, leading directly to the success of the Revolution.
Bennington's long tradition of manufacturing was stimulated by the availability of both water power and natural resources. Among the earliest industries in town were a sawmill, a gristmill, and a paper mill. The quality of pottery, iron, and textiles produced in Bennington came to be nationally recognized. Some of the mills have now been adapted for modern uses.
Downtown Bennington began developing in the early 1800's. Today there are three National Register Historic Districts within the town, one in each of its historic village centers. Visitors can explore the Bennington Battle Monument, the Old First Church, the Bennington Museum, the Park-McCullough House, Bennington College, and three covered bridges. Heritage tourism efforts include two walking tours, interpretive signs, and a welcome center and annual events like Bennington Battle Day.
In partnership with the Bennington Historical Preservation Commission, the Town of Bennington helped plan and hosted the statewide preservation conference in 2005. Workshops showcased Bennington’s industrial heritage and economic development strategies. Many local preservation groups have used Bennington’s efforts as a model to facilitate the recognition of their own downtown districts.
For more information
Bennington Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information: www.benningtonvt.net/history
Historic Downtown Bennington: www.vermontvacation.com/
Posted May 14, 2009