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History of Rutland

Eight Generations of Rutland's History

18th Century Rutland (1770 - 1800)

click on the picture for a larger pictureThe Township of Rutland was chartered in 1761 by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. The first name in the list of proprietors was that of John Murray of Rutland, Massachusetts, who most probably gave Rutland it's name. During the Revolution Murray was a Loyalist. During a raid on Murray's home, a Patriot soldier put his sword through the head in the portrait. The dark hole in the upper left of the head is the result.

None of these proprietors ever settled in Rutland. Rather they sold their rights to others such as James Mead who came to Rutland in 1769, built a house and returned with his family in 1770 to become the first permanent settler. (continued)

The Quiet Years (1801-1830)

As the Revolutionary generation passed, a new generation of merchants, craftsmen, lawyers and farmers replaced it. As a political change from Federalism to Democratic-Republicanism occurred nationally, so too there was a local change.

click to see a larger picture of the west side of North Main StreetThe west side of North Main Street was the locale for the first Episcopal Church in Rutland and numerous stores and shops. These stores and shops boosted a cash retail economy that would inevitably generate a demand for banking services.

click to see a larger picture of the Bank of Rutland's moneyIn 1824 a Bank of Rutland was chartered as the fourth bank in Vermont. In 1825 a building was erected on the south side of the town common to house the bank. The Bank of Rutland's money became commonplace in the community. (continued)

Marble and Railroads (1831-1860)

click to see a larger picture of James Hope's PaintingMarble quarrying on a large scale began in the late 1830s and in the 1840s. In 1851 a Rutland artist, James Hope, painted at least three versions of the West Rutland quarry of Sheldons, Morgan and Slason. This quarry was one of the oldest, largest and most productive of the Rutland marble quarries.

In the 1850s Rutland became the railroad center of Vermont. The Rutland Railroad station, machine shop, round house and other facilities were located to the west of the town center. Lines ran north and south and west and southeast. The railroads arrived just in time to aid in the growth of the marble industry. (continued)

Civil War and Industry (1861-1892)

click on image to enlarge picture of Gen. Edward H. Ripleyclick on image to enlarge picture of Lt. Col. William W. Y. RipleyIn the Civil War, Rutland provided two
leaders of stature from the same family: Lt. Col. William W. Y. Ripley, a leader of sharp shooters, and his brother, Gen. Edward H. Ripley, who led the occupation of Richmond, Virginia. Numerous other Rutland men, black and white, served with distinction.

In 1870 the post-war community celebrated Rutland's 100th Anniversary of its first settlement. In 1870 Rutland was the railroad crossroads of Vermont. It was also a developing industrial community as well as the center of the world's largest marble business.(continued)

Urbanization (1893-1920)

click on image to enlarge picture of Julia Ripley DorrIn the 1890s Rutland became a cultural center for music, literature and theater. Julia Ripley Dorr was instrumental in developing local appreciation for the arts, especially among women. Her father had built the Rutland Opera House and after a fire destroyed it he rebuilt it. Julia composed an ode for the opening of the rebuilt Opera House. She was personally acclaimed by New England's late 19th Century writers of note, for both her poetry and prose. She was a strong patron of the Rutland Free Library and arts and literature in Rutland in general.

In 1913 George Chaffee built the Playhouse, another new theater seating nearly 1,000 people. This theater opened in 1914. (continued)

20s, Depression and WWII (1921-1950)

click on image to enlarge picture of the 1927 FloodIn November 1927 floods hit Vermont and Rutland was no exception although it did not suffer as much as some other communities. This photo of the 1927 flood in Rutland shows the depth of the waters on Strongs Avenue.

But water was not always a threat. In 1929 Rutland built a municipal swimming pool on the western side of North Main Street. This municipal facility became not only a notable public recreation site but also a popular postcard view. In 1929 the community also opened a new high school building on Library Avenue. (continued)

Post-war and Post-railroad Rutland (1951-1980)

Click to see a larger picture of Joan Looker on the Dave Garrowway TV showDuring the 1950s the Chamber of Commerce and the local service clubs were extremely active in improving the community. In the winter the Chamber organized an annual Winter Carnival, replete with outdoor activities, a parade and a winter Carnival Ball with Queen and Court. Joan Looker, the 1955 queen, appeared on the Dave Garroway national TV show on NBC to promote Rutland and Vermont. (continued)

Rutland Revitalized (1981-2010)

The present generation in Rutland is not without challenges but it is in a revitalization mode. The community that was once the railroad center of Vermont has seen the re-establishment of daily passenger rail connection with New York City. Rail freight still flows for specialized industries such as OMYA which has transformed the marble industry from a building stone industry to one supplying the world with calcium carbonate for its toothpastes, paper and many other products. Meanwhile the automobile, which had such a hand in the passing of railroad passenger service, and the truck, which now carries the majority of freight, have continued to make Rutland a destination community. (continued)

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