Brattleboro, Vermont

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Brattleboro, Vermont
The Gothic Revival Municipal Center (1884) was the High School until 1951
The Gothic Revival Municipal Center (1884) was the High School until 1951
Motto: The One and Only Brattleboro
Location in Vermont
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
CountryUnited States
 • Interim Town ManagerPatrick Moreland[1]
 • Assistant Town ManagerN/A
 • Executive SecretaryJan Anderson[1]
 • Total32.4 sq mi (84.0 km2)
 • Land32.0 sq mi (82.9 km2)
 • Water0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Elevation633 ft (193 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total12,046
 • Density375.3/sq mi (144.9/km2)
Time zoneEastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes05301-05304
Area code(s)802
FIPS code50-07900[2]
GNIS feature ID1462049[3]
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Brattleboro, Vermont
The Gothic Revival Municipal Center (1884) was the High School until 1951
The Gothic Revival Municipal Center (1884) was the High School until 1951
Motto: The One and Only Brattleboro
Location in Vermont
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
CountryUnited States
 • Interim Town ManagerPatrick Moreland[1]
 • Assistant Town ManagerN/A
 • Executive SecretaryJan Anderson[1]
 • Total32.4 sq mi (84.0 km2)
 • Land32.0 sq mi (82.9 km2)
 • Water0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Elevation633 ft (193 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total12,046
 • Density375.3/sq mi (144.9/km2)
Time zoneEastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST)EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes05301-05304
Area code(s)802
FIPS code50-07900[2]
GNIS feature ID1462049[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 two graduate schools; Marlboro College Center for Graduate and Professional Studies, and the SIT Graduate Institute, an international educational institution.


Brooks Free Library (1886, demolished 1971), Alexander C. Currier, architect (image c.1895)

Abenaki land[edit]

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[edit]

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 New France.[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]

Whetstone Falls in 1907
The Brattleboro Retreat has been treating mental health disorders and drug addiction since 1834
Brooks House, built in 1871 and the largest commercial building in Brattleboro, was devastated by a fire in 2011 and is still (as of 2014) being rehabilitated

Mill town[edit]

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 other's 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.[citation needed] Brattleboro is also the headquarters of the Holstein Cattle Association.

Bird's-eye view in 1905


Brattleboro experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) with cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. The record high is 100 °F (38 °C), set in 1955, and the record low is −33 °F (−36 °C), set in 1958. Annually in terms of precipitation on average, May is typically the wettest month, and February is the driest. Brattleboro averages 92.58 inches (235 cm) of snow annually.[14]

Brattleboro lies in USDA plant hardiness zone 5a.[15]

Climate data for Brattleboro, Vermont
Record high °F (°C)62
Average high °F (°C)32
Average low °F (°C)11
Record low °F (°C)−30
Precipitation inches (mm)3.92
Source: The Weather Channel[16]


Historical population

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.[17] The town's three districts also each elect a representative to the Vermont State Legislature.


Brattleboro has a diverse mix of public and private primary, secondary and post-secondary schools and career centers. Marlboro College has a graduate school campus near downtown.[18] SIT Graduate Institute is another private graduate college in Brattleboro, offering Master of Arts degrees in five programs.[19] The Community College of Vermont also has a campus in Brattleboro;[20] as of the 2014 fall semester, it is located in the Brooks House in the downtown area.

Brattleboro currently has three public K-12 elementary schools. They are:[21]

There is one public middle school, the Brattleboro Area Middle School (BAMS) and one public high school, the Brattleboro Union High School (BUHS).[22] The Windham Southeastern Supervisory Union, which oversees the public school system in Windham County, also provides a career development center, the Windham Regional Career Center.[23]


Amtrak train in Brattleboro
United States Navy Seabees Bridge over the Connecticut River


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 2014 or early 2015.


The "Current" operates the Brattleboro BeeLine local bus service Monday through Saturday throughout the town between 6:00 am and 6:30 pm, and is composed of the Red, Blue, and White Lines.[24] They work in conjunction with each other to move residents throughout the T shaped street map of the town. The Current also provides a weekday communter bus line between Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. DVTA's "MOOver" runs a daily bus route between Brattleboro and Wilmington as well.[25] In addition, the national bus service Greyhound serves Brattleboro, stopping at a gas station on Canal Street just northeast of Interstate 91 Exit 1.

Roads and highways[edit]

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

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 3.

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. Route 5 is also known as the Connecticut River Byway over its entire length in Vermont, and is the only scenic byway in Vermont to receive national byway status.[26][27]

Vermont Route 30, considered[by whom?] 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.

Downtown Brattleboro, as seen across the Connecticut River, from New Hampshire


Print media[edit]

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 about 8,000.[28] The Parent Express, a community newspaper, circulates in Brattleboro; Keene, New Hampshire; and throughout Windham County, Vermont and Cheshire County, New Hampshire.[29]

Radio and television[edit]

There are several radio stations which broadcast from Brattleboro.


Arts and events[edit]

A contestant airborne on the Harris Hill ski jumping venue
New England Youth Theatre
Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, formerly Union Station
The Jeremiah Beal Museum of the Brattleboro Historical Society

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.[citation needed]

On the first Friday of every month, an event known as the Gallery Walk[35] 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,[36] the Hooker-Dunham Theater and Gallery,[37] the In-Sight Photography Project,[38] River Gallery School,[39] Through the Music,[40] and the Windham Art Gallery.[41]

Other notable arts organizations in Brattleboro include the Brattleboro Music Center,[42] the Vermont Theatre Company,[43] the New England Youth Theater,[44] the Brattleboro Women's Chorus,[45] the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA)[46] the Vermont Performance Lab[47] and the Vermont Jazz Center.[48]

Annual events in Brattleboro include:

Sites of interest[edit]

Health care[edit]

Law enforcement[edit]

The Brattleboro Police Department is the principal law enforcement agency for the town, as well as West Brattleboro. The current Chief of Police is Eugene Wrinn.[62]

The Vermont State Police have a substation in West Brattleboro on Western Avenue and also serve the town.[63]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Town Manager's Office". Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ DeLorme (1996). Vermont Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 0-89933-016-9.
  5. ^ a b c A. J. Coolidge & J. B. Mansfield, ''A History and Description of New England;'' Boston, Massachusetts 1859.
  6. ^ Brattleboro in 1824. (October 27, 2009).
  7. ^ a b Brattleboro. Virtual Vermont.
  8. ^ Nichols, Mary S. Gove (1855). "Experience in the Water Cure: A familiar exposition of the Principles and Results of Water Treatment, in the Cure of Acute and Chronic Diseases". in Fowlers and Wells' Water-Cure Library: Embracing all the most popular works on the subject. Vol. 2 of 7. New York: Fowlers and Wells. p. 30 (n85 in electronic page field). Retrieved 2009-10-29.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  9. ^ Cabot, Mary R. (Ed.) (1922). The Annals of Brattleboro 1681–1895. Vol. 2 of 2. Brattleboro, Vermont: E.L. Hildreth & Co. Retrieved December 14, 2009.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  10. ^ Hayward's ''New England Gazetteer of 1839''.
  11. ^ U.S. postal authorities decided that all towns ending in borough should be shortened to boro, and Vermont complied.
  12. ^ Letters of Travel 1892-1913
  13. ^ Her check number was 00-000-001 and it was for $22.54; Social Security Online. "The First Social Security Beneficiary". Social Security Administration. Retrieved June 28, 2007. 
  14. ^ Brattleboro, VT Weather, Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  15. ^ USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, US Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  16. ^ "Climate Statistics for Brattleboro, Vermont". Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ Brattleboro Town Charter. "Town Charter". Retrieved June 29, 2007. 
  18. ^ Marlboro College Graduate School. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  19. ^ SIT Graduate Institute. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  20. ^ CCV Brattleboro, Community College of Vermont. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  21. ^ Schools, Windham Southeastern Supervisory Union. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  22. ^ "Vernon Brattleboro Union High School". Brattleboro Union High School. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  23. ^ Windham Regional Career Center. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  24. ^ Between Town /In Town Routes, The Current. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  25. ^ Wilmington-Brattleboro, MOOver Route 10, Deerfield Valley Transit Association. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  26. ^ Connecticut River National Byway, Explore Vermont's Byways. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  27. ^ The Connecticut River Byway. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  28. ^ Welcome to THE COMMONS – News and Views for Windham County, Vermont.
  29. ^ Parent Express. Parent Express.
  30. ^ a b WKVT radio station.
  31. ^ Radio-Locator database.
  32. ^ WRSI radio station.
  33. ^ a b WTSA radio station. (April 21, 2009).
  34. ^ WVEW radio station. (October 21, 2012).
  35. ^ Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont – a Monthly First-Friday Celebration!. (October 4, 2012).
  36. ^ Brattleboro Museum & Art Center » home.
  37. ^ Hooker-Dunham Theater – Great Stuff's Happening!.
  38. ^
  39. ^ River Gallery School. River Gallery School.
  40. ^ Welcome to Through the Music.
  41. ^ May, 2008. Windham Art Gallery.
  42. ^ Brattleboro Music Center – Music School, Summer Music Camps, Chamber Music, Music For Hire, Southeastern Vermont.
  43. ^ Home. Vermont Theatre Company.
  44. ^ New England Youth Theater.
  45. ^ Brattleboro Women's Chorus. (September 12, 2012).
  46. ^ New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA).
  47. ^ Vermont Performance Lab. Vermont Performance Lab.
  48. ^ the Vermont Jazz Center.
  49. ^ Brattleboro - Non-profitorganisatie | Facebook. Brattleboro Winter Carnival. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
  50. ^ Harris Hill Ski Jump. Harris Hill Ski Jump.
  51. ^ Women's Film Festival 2008 – Home.
  52. ^ Annual Maple Open House Weekend – Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association & Vermont Maple Foundation[dead link]
  53. ^ Benefit Auction at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center[dead link]
  54. ^ The Winston Prouty Center for Child Development.
  55. ^ Slow Living Summit, June 5–7, 2013. (June 1, 2012).
  56. ^ Friday, June 7 – Sunday, June 9, 2013. Strolling of the Heifers (June 1, 2012).
  57. ^ Home. Vermont Theatre Company.
  58. ^ Welcome to the 2007 Brattleboro Literary Festival.
  59. ^ About Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  60. ^ Mission and History, Brattleboro Retreat. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  61. ^ State Profile: Largest Employers, America's Career InfoNet. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  62. ^ Chief, Brattleboro Police Department. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  63. ^ Brattleboro Barracks, Vermont State Police. Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  64. ^ The Whisperer in Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft.
  65. ^ Infinite Jest, pp. 901: "C.T. was the infant son she'd brought to the new union, his father a ne'er-do-well killed in a freak accident playing competitive darts in a Brattleboro tavern just as they were trying to adjust the obstetric stirrups for the achondroplastic Mrs. Tavis's labor and delivery."
  66. ^ Mayor, Archer. "A Brief Biography of "Joe Gunther"". Retrieved December 12, 2011. 
  67. ^ Associated Press. "Vt. towns put Bush, Cheney on arrest list" USA Today (March 5, 2008)
  68. ^ The 20 Best Small Towns in America of 2012", Susan Spano and Aviva Shen, Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2013-08-17.

Further reading

External links[edit]