A Brief History of Woodstock
Woodstock was first chartered in 1761. It became the shire town, or county seat, twenty-five years later in 1786. As a shire town with the county's courthouse and jail, Woodstock attracted a host of professional people and entrepreneurs. Within a short period of time, Woodstock became a commercial and manufacturing center with shops and mills that produced everything from woolen products to linseed oil.
By 1830, Woodstock was one of the largest towns in Vermont. It was during this early period that many of the beautiful buildings that you see around the Green and Elm Street were built. By the 1840s, Woodstock's population began to decrease - a trend that continued after the Civil War. With the advent of improved transportation and industrial practices, goods made in large mill towns and factories could be brought to Woodstock and sold at cheaper prices than locally-made products. This, in turn, lead to a decline in Woodstock's manufacturing industry and many people went elsewhere - such as Lowell, Massachusetts - to find work. Interestingly, however, while improved transportation (particularly the railways) ended up negatively impacting the area's mills, it helped Woodstock reinvent itself as a tourist town. When the Woodstock Railway was completed in 1875 - connecting Woodstock to White River Junction and from there to Boston, New York, and a myriad of other towns and cities - it allowed city people who wanted to escape from dirty, congested, urban areas to board a train and arrive the same day in the small, quaint town of Woodstock, Vermont. After the railway to Woodstock was discontinued in 1933, Woodstock continued to grow as a resort town because automobiles made remote areas like Woodstock accessible.
Today many people visit the Woodstock area so that they can participate in outdoor recreational activities, enjoy the area's natural beauty, shop at local stores and galleries, and visit many historic sites such as the Woodstock History Center.
Timeline of Some Events in Woodstock and Beyond:
1700s. Ensign Richardson comes to the area.
1761. New Hampshire’s Governor Benning Wentworth charters Woodstock to 65 proprietors
1765. Timothy Knox becomes the first settler.
1768. Permanent, wide spread settlement begins.
1771. First census by Ebenezer Dyke reveals 40 people in 10 families
June, 1772. Oliver Willard has the title to the entire town of Woodstock.
1777. Vermont organized as an independent republic.
1779. The first division of the town into five school districts.
1786. Woodstock becomes the Shire Town of Windsor County.
1786. Universalists organized.
1788. Courthouse built at corner South Street and the Green and the jail erected on the Green.
1791. Vermont joins the United States, 14th state in the Union (after paying New York $30,000 for it to drop its claims)
1791. First court house burns, new one built on corner of the Green and Mountain Avenue.
Circa 1795. Figure, the foundation stallion of the Morgan breed of horse, was traded or sold to William Rice and stabled in Woodstock
1796. Elisha Taylor opens tavern on corner of Elm and Central.
1797. Elm Street is opened as a private enterprise.
1801. George Perkins Marsh is born. Marsh went on to become a diplomat as well as the author of Man and Nature (1864), which is considered to be a seminal work for the environmental movement
1805. Hiram Powers, sculptor, was born in Woodstock.
1806. State Bank opens in Woodstock (the other was in Middlebury)
1807 "Old White" Congregational Meeting house built on Elm Street, Nathaniel Smith builder-architect
1807. Dana house built, Nathaniel Smith builder-architect
1810. Titus Hutchinson erects 3 1/2 story brick block on Elm Street (now Gillingham's).
1812. District 8 (Village School) built on the Green at corner of Mountain Ave
1817. President James Monroe visits Woodstock.
1818. The Congregational Church purchases a Revere bell. There are five in town
1820-1830. Edson Row built where Central Street is today
1825. The Marquis de Lafayette visits Woodstock
1825. High Street was first opened and laid out by Charles Dana and Amos Ralph, selectmen.
1826 St. James Episcopal Church built of wood at west end of Green
1826. Christian Church built on Pleasant Street (currently the Masonic Temple)
1827. Sylvester Edson builds stone houses on the Green.
1827. The Clinical School of Medicine commences lectures.
1830 The Green is expanded to its present dimensions
1835. The Universalist Church is built.
1836. Taftsville covered bridge erected.
1847 Solomon Woodward took possession of the mill on the western side of the village.
1848. Green Mountain Perkins Academy opens in South Woodstock.
1853. Vermont Temperance Standard begins weekly publication.
1854. Court house burns on July 4.
1854. Woodstock High School opens its doors on School Street.
1855. New courthouse, corner of the Green and Court Street built (still in use)
1856 Last class graduates from Vermont Medical College
1857. Vermont Temperance Standard becomes the Vermont Standard
1860. Edson Row burns, one building remaining
1861. Woodstock becomes the pentagon of Vermont when Peter Washburn was elected the administrator of Vermont's Civil War effort
1861. Franklin Billings erects the Phoenix Block on the site of Edson Row, now called Central Street.
1863. Woodstock High School graduates its first class.
1863. Woodstock Railroad Company incorporates.
1867. Barker Hotel on corner of Elm and Central Street burns to ground.
1875. Woodstock Railroad begins operation first run between White River Junction and Woodstock.
1881. Last building in Edson Row burns.
1884. Norman Williams Public Library opens.
1886. F.H. Gillingham’s opens on Elm Street.
1886 Woodstock Aqueduct Company is organized.
1887 Woodstock Aqueduct Company brings water to town.
1892. The Woodstock Inn is built.
1893. Wooden Catholic Church built on South Street.
1893. Hydroelectric Power from Taftsville Dam replaces Gas lighting in the Village.
1894. Moore-Kidder Block built next to Gillingham Block.
1894. Whitcomb Block on Central Street opened.
1898. Green Mountain Perkins Academy graduates its last class.
1899. Catholic Church is dedicated.
1899. Woodstock Music Hall (now Town Hall) opens
1902. First basketball team for Woodstock High School.
1903. Wooden Catholic Church burns.
1903. New Woodstock High School built on South Street.
1906. New stone Catholic Church Our Lady of the Snows is consecrated.
1907. New St. James Episcopal Church built of stone.
1909. Civil War monument in Tribou Park unveiled.
1912. President William Howard Taft visited.
1913. New Elementary School built on WHS lot.
1921. First Woodstock High School Ski Team.
1927. Woodstock Town Hall burns.
1927. The Flood of 1927.
1928. Woodstock Town Hall reopens.
1933. Woodstock Railroad last run on April 15th.
1934. Woodstock becomes the site of the first ski tow in the US.
1934. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is founded in Woodstock.
1941-1945. Over three hundred men and women serve during WWII. 9 died.
1942 W.H.S. Alumni Association stages first parade.
1943 The Woodstock Historical Society incorporates.
1957 Woodstock Union High School opens in W. Woodstock.
1960. Methodist Church taken down.
1968 The Woodstock Foundation, Inc. is formed.
1969. Woodstock Inn is torn down, new Inn put up
1969. Middle Bridge (covered bridge) is constructed.
1971. Electrical lines are placed underground in the Village.
1974. New elementary school is built on South Street.
1981. The film Ghost Story is filmed in Woodstock.
1982. First National Snow Surfing Championships at Suicide Six.
1983 Billings Farm & Museum opens.
1989. Woodstock Town Hall Theater reopened by Pentangle after restoration.
1992 Establishment of Marsh-Billings National Historical Park, later to be renamed Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in 1993
1996. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park opens.
2011. Tropical Storm Irene ravages the area.
2016. Woodstock Inn remodels its entrance. Woodstock Racquet Club is renamed the Woodstock Athletic Club.
2017. Suicide Six installs new “Quad” lift.