horizontal banner with Preserve America logo and images of a historic downtown, farm, courthouse, and mountain

Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Windsor, Vermont

Windsor (population 3,800), often called the birthplace of Vermont, was founded in 1761. In 1777, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, local citizens adopted a progressive constitution that banned slavery, instituted public education, and providing for voting rights for men without a requirement for land ownership or a specific income. An independent republic for 14 years, Vermont joined the union in 1791. By 1820 Windsor was the largest town in Vermont.

The Old Constitution House, originally the Elijah West tavern in which Vermont’s constitution was drafted and signed, is now open to the public as a museum. Windsor is also home to the American Precision Museum, housed in the 1846 Robbins and Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark and an International Mechanical Engineering Heritage Site. It was here that the concept of producing interchangeable parts was introduced to manufacturing, enabling mass production. Other local attractions are the Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in the country and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world, and the Ascutney Mill Dam.

Amid three centuries of historic architecture in varied styles, interesting buildings range from historic barns, to the Nation’s oldest post office in continuous use, to one of the last diners manufactured. Much of the downtown is a National Register Historic District.

Windsor is one of ten towns designated as a Waypoint Community within the Connecticut River Scenic Byway, and is creating exhibits for its Welcome Center on the influence of the River on Windsor’s development. Nearby a “Rails to River” redevelopment of formerly industrial areas is helping to revitalize the downtown, complementing the ongoing restoration of many significant historic buildings.

In the summer of 2005, Windsor extended the design review process to include all four of its historic districts as well as the historic residential and industrial area between the railroad tracks and the Connecticut River, opening the way for grants and loans to support economic development and helping to protect the historic character of the community.

Windsor celebrates Heritage Days every summer with period encampments featuring costumed artisans working in historic crafts, reenactments, tours, period games and entertainment. Visitors and locals dress in outfits that might have been worn from the 18th century through World War II.

For more information

Town of Windsor: www.vermont-towns.org/windsor

Windsor – Connecticut River Byway: www.ctrivertravel.net/windsor

Posted May 14, 2009

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