Village Photos

From: History of Bennington County, Vt.
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
Edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich. Syracuse, N. Y., D. Mason S Co., Publishers, 1889.

Although the village of Manchester has no corporate existence independent of the township of which it forms a part, and although it lacks the population, industries and business appearance of its sister village situated about a mile to the northward, it is unquestionably to be reckoned as the leading village of the township; leading because it is the point at which the county buildings are situated; because of its prominent educational institution, the BURR and BURTON Seminary; because of its fame as a summer resort and its commodious and well-ordered Equinox House, a place of rest and resort for the wealthiest and most aristocratic of the country’s people. The village of Manchester contains something like sixty residences and has a population of about three hundred persons. Its limits cannot be well defined. The main thoroughfare of travel passes through the town in a generally north and south course; a wide, well-kept avenue, with elegant grass-plats on either side, and what is still more attractive, an abundance of magnificent maple and elm shade trees that protect the traveler from the sun’s intense heat. The street leading west up the hill to the seminary while less imposing in appearance, is no less an attraction. Throughout the village are good, level marble walks for pedestrians. To the north of the town the main road forks, one branch leading to the high lands on the west, while the other traverses the rich bottom lands of the valley. The history of this village is almost identical with that of the whole township. The fact of its being the seat of the county buildings for the north shire of the county has made it the most prominent center of the township, while the other features above mentioned have tended to confirm this truth.

From Judge MUNSON’s historical address, are gleaned these facts concerning the early occupancy of the village:

“As early as-1796 Robert PIERPONT became a resident of Manchester. He kept an inn where Rev. Dr. WICKHAM now lives. Dr. Ezra ISHAM came here from Litchfield, Conn., about 1798, and soon became the leading physician of the vicinity. In 1795 Joseph BURR, the founder of the seminary, was trading in a building which stood about where William B. BURTON now lives. Before 1800 he removed to the lot now (1875) occupied by the residence of E. J. HAWLEY, where he passed the remainder of his business life and accumulated the greater part of his property. In 1800 Richard SKINNER moved into town and soon became prominent as a lawyer and citizen.

“The 4th of March, 1801, the day of the first inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, was celebrated in Manchester by the raising of Thaddeus MUNSON’s new inn (the building that in more recent years was the north part of-the Taconic House.) The whipping-post stood on the west side of the street, nearly in front of the north side of the Equinox House, while the pillory was located on the east side: of the street, a little south of the present court-house.

“In 1812,” continues judge MUNSON, “Manchester village had about one third as many buildings as now. The most northerly house was the MUNSON homestead, then occupied by the widow and children of- Rufus MUNSON. Where the Congregational Church lifts its tall spire stood the first meeting-house, unpainted, and without steeple or ornament. At the southeast corner of the old burying-ground was the district school house, and nearly in its rear stood a blacksmith shop. Anson MUNSON kept tavern in the lower part of the court-house building, and in the court-room in the upper story Rev. Mr. BROWNSON, an Episcopal clergyman of Arlington, held services every other Sabbath. Nathan BROWNSON, who had formerly been a merchant in the place, lived a little south of the court-house. Anson J. SPERRY lived on the premises recently occupied by L. C. ORVIS, and had a law-office just south ‘of -his residence. Joshua RAYMOND kept tavern at the Allis stand, and the old lodge-room was occupied by the select school of Miss HARRIS, an institution extensively patronized by the young ladies of Manchester and vicinity. Samuel RAYMOND traded in a store where Mrs. LAWRENCE now (1875) lives, and Joel ROSE lived on the premises occupied by the residence of Deacon BLACK. Mrs. WOOD’s place was then occupied by Elijah HOLLISTER and his son, Marinus, who drove the stages between Bennington and Rutland. Dr. Elijah LITTLEFIELD had recently built and taken possession of the house now occupied by George STONE. Deacon Asa LOVELAND lived where Noah P. PERKINS now does, and the Hoyt place was then the tavern stand of Israel ROACH. Serenus SWIFT lived and had an office at the Elms House Place, and just north of it was the law office of Cyrus A. LOCKWOOD. Joseph WELLS was then trading at the Burr stand, but Mr. BURR retained an office in the building for his general business.

“John C. WALKER, a young lawyer, occupied the E. B. BURTON place, and had an office on the north side of his lot. Calvin SHELDON lived in the house now owned by Rev. James ANDERSON, and his law office is still standing south of that building. Captain Peter BLACK kept an inn where Rev. Dr. WICKHAM resides, and also traded in a store which stood on the south side of his lot. Where Major HAWLEY now lives was the residence and law office of Richard SKINNER, among whose students at that time were Leonard SARGENT and Robert PIERPONT.

“Nathan BURTON, who had been appointed postmaster in 1808, lived where Mr. MINER does, and kept the post-office in a little building on the north side of the lot. Joel PRATT, the county clerk, lived on the premises now occupied Mr. CONE, and had an office adjoining his house on the north. The old MARSH Tavern was still standing tenantless and soon to be demolished. Thaddeus MUNSON lived in the new tavern by its side, but kept it open only in court time. Ephraim MUNSON lived on the premises now occupied by Mr. SHATTUCK.”

[The reader must bear carefully in mind that the above recollections are taken, almost literally, from Loveland MUNSON’s historical address, and that address was delivered in December, 1875. The localities indicated as being occupied in 1875 may he differently occupied at the present time. That whoever peruses the pages may not be misled nor confused by the above statements this explanation is made.]