A Chronology of Events, Big and Small, in the History of Stowe
The following time line has been taken from the current Stowe Town Plan.
The Stowe Historical Society Museum is located at 90 School Street in the former West Branch School House/St. John's in the Mountains Church. Built in 1878, the building was moved to its current site in 2009. The Historical Society was previously located in the Akeley Memorial Buildling. Any questions regarding Stowe's history and Museum hours of operation, may be directed to Museum Director Barbara Baraw at (802)253-1518. Special thanks to the Stowe Historical Society for the use of their photographs on our website.
1763 Charter granted by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire to 64 “Proprietors,” none of whom settled in Stowe (June 8, 1763); original area 36 square miles.
1791 Vermont becomes the 14th state.
1794 First settlement; Oliver Luce arrived from Hartland, VT (April 16, 1794)
1796 First saw and grist mill built at the falls of the Little River in Mill Village
1797 First town meeting held at house of Lauden Chase
1798 The Old Yard or Center Cemetery established on land donated by the Town Clerk following the drowning of his son; oldest in town
1800 First school house erected on land deeded by Oliver Luce in the Upper Village.
First established religious group (Methodist); first recorded church service
1811 Steve Wright House built; oldest in Village
- First tavern erected in the Center Village; expanded to an inn in 1814.
1817 First school established in what became Stowe Village
1818 Old Town Hall built by public subscription on the site of the present Stowe Community Church, later moved to its present location; oldest public building in Stowe in continuous public service (now the old fire station and Village Water & Light Office)
-First Church built
1832 Stowe-Morrisville Road/Route 100 (LaPorte Rd.) opened to traffic
1833 Green Mountain Inn built (as a dwelling); later expanded into a hotel
1838 “e” added to “Stow” in warned Town Meeting
1840 Most of the Town of Mansfield added to Stowe
1849 Rail service established in Waterbury
1855 Part of the Town of Sterling added to Stowe
-McMahon House (Bashaw home) built; stop on the Underground Railroad
1856 Toll Road up Mt. Mansfield (to the Half-way House) built with private funds; a trail, used by saddle horses went from there to the summit
1858 Summit House built under the nose of Mt. Mansfield
1860 Planked, toll road established between Waterbury Center and Stowe (or 1850?)
-Road to Smugglers Notch was run up to the Big Spring
1861 District #6 Village School (Stowe High School) constructed
1863 Mount Mansfield Hotel (the “Big Hotel”) constructed “in the heart of the Green Mountains;” three and one-half stories, 300 feet long with two rear wings; accommodated 450 guests, with livery for 200 horses; noted as the “most pretentious” hotel in Stowe (History, p. 11)
-Stowe Community Church built for $12,000; most photographed building in town
1866 Stowe Free Library established
1870 Mt. Mansfield Toll Road completed to the summit (or 1868?)
1888 Mt. Mansfield Creamery began operation (first in Lamoille County)
1889 Fire; destroyed the Mount Mansfield Hotel
1893 Neighborhood school districts consolidated into single town school district
1894 Carriage Road to Smugglers Notch completed
1896 Stowe Village incorporated
1897 Mt. Mansfield Electric Railroad began daily service between Waterbury and Stowe; Depot Building constructed as Stowe terminal; Town bonded for $40,000 toward the cost of building the railroad “...which paid well and was a vital factor in the life of Stowe.” (History, p. 10). Carried passengers and freight.
1899 Mansfield Mountain Grange established
1900 Stowe High School organized; first graduating class in 1901
-Roman Catholic mission established in Stowe; services held in the Banquet Room of the Memorial Building in 1903
1902-1903 Akeley Memorial Building built, as a soldier’s memorial; in the past it housed the post office, a jail, the Union Bank and the Stowe Free Library. It is the now center of Town Government with a community Theatre located on the top floor which hosts Stowe Theatre Guild, school plays and community movies.
1904 Municipal water system established to serve village through the purchase of the Mount Mansfield Hotel system, springs, and the construction of a reservoir on Brush Hill, pipes and hydrants to serve the village area. Center Village water system established by purchase of defunct Mt. Mansfield Hotel system
1909 Dairy Herd Improvement Association formed
1911 Village of Stowe Electric Light & Power System established
-Water mains constructed from Edson Hill springs to Village, Lower Village
-Stowe Civic Club established
1913 Skiing first introduced by Swedish families living in Stowe
1921 First Winter Carnival held; sponsored by the Stowe Civic Club; ski jump, toboggan slide and skating rink built; brought more than 2,000 participants and spectators (discontinued during WWII)
1925 Commercial milk production noted
1930 Exporting of milk to out-of-state markets began
1931 Village Charter amended to allow construction of an electric plant, and service area expansion outside of village
1932 Mt. Mansfield Electric Railroad service discontinued.
-Cement highway built by state through Stowe (Route 100)
1933 First ski trails cut (CCC project)
1934 Municipal well developed to supply water system at Edson Hill site, replaced in 1994
1940 First single chair lift constructed, ushering in commercial skiing
1944 Bridge Street Covered Bridge on the West Branch (built in 1848) was rebuilt with no cover “in deference to changing modes of transportation”
1949 Mt. Mansfield Company established (or 1951?)
1952 West Branch Meeting House converted to ski lodge; the Rocky River Lodge
1954 Stowe Elementary School built; last one room schools closed
1956 Stowe Historical Society founded
1957 Summit House closed. Deconstructed in 1963
1963 Stowe-Morrisville Airport established
1973 Stowe Middle-Senior High School built on Barrows Road
1974 Jackson Ice Arena completed; used year-round
1975 Winter Carnival resurrected
-Stowe Rescue Squad founded
1978 Stowe Village Historic District
nominated to National Register
1979 Town Garage constructed (mechanic’s bay to be completed in 1999)
1980 Wastewater treatment plan came on line, serving primarily the Village
-Fire at Trapp Family Lodge destroyed main building; replaced by current lodge
1981 former Stowe High School renovated to house Stowe Free Library and Helen Day Art Center
1982 Fire District #1 established (Mountain Rd.)
-Art exhibitions began at the Helen Day Art Center
1984 Stowe Recreation Path opened
1987 Stowe Land Trust founded
-Renovation of public safety buildings (Fire/Rescue, Police) on Route 100 ($688,000 construction project
-Fire District #2 established (purchase of Goldbrook systems)
1989 Wastewater allocation ordinance adopted
-Recycling program initiated (became mandatory in 1994)
-Stowe Recreation Path completed to Top Notch Meadow
-Elementary school playground built
-Core Village sidewalks replaced
1990 Mayo Farm purchased by the town for conservation, recreation and community-related purposes; includes a 35 acre special events field
1992 Stowe Shuttle System established
-Recycling building constructed
-Stowe Elementary School renovated and expanded Wing added to Stowe Middle-Senior High School
1993 Second municipal well (Village Green Well) purchased
-Fire District #4 established (Glenbook area of Mansfield View properties)
-Mayo Connector Road constructed
1994 Stowe Free Library/Helen Day Art Center building expanded
1995 Voter approval for expansion of wastewater treatment facility, service areas (now in permitting)
-New municipal well developed at Edson Hill
-Fire District #3 established (Sylvan Park Loop), system overhaul in 1997
1996 Quiet Path completed
1997 Sewer line extended to Sylvan Park area of Lower Village
-Mayo Connector Road paved
1998 Sewer line extended up Mountain Road to Cottage Club Road
-Phase I of water system expansion approved by voters, to be completed in 1999
-Moscow Ball Fields acquired
-Copley Woodlands Condominiums retirement community opened
1999 Phase I of water system to Edson Hill Rd complete
-Act 250 approval for sewer plant expansion
2000 Revised Health & Sanitation Ordinance adopted
-Animal Control Ordinance adopted
-Moscow Stump Dump closed
-Voters at Town Meeting approve $300,000 towards purchase of Bingham's Falls by Stowe Land Trust; $150,000 in repairs to Village Water & Light Building to house VT Ski and Snowboard Museum
2001 Simmons Brook culvert construction complete in Village
-Construction begins on $15 million dollar expansion of wastewater treatment plant and Mountain Road sewer line
-Phase 3 of waterline from Edson Hill Road to Topnotch complete
-Completion of new water treatment plant on Cape Cod Road
2003 Centennial Celebration of Akeley Memorial Building
By 1800 most of the land in Stowe had been sold; population 316. The town grew rapidly over the next 50 years.
As of 1855 Stowe, with the addition of land from the Towns of Mansfield and Sterling, had become the largest town (in area) in the state. Currently 44,808 acres (72.2 square miles)..
Stowe was originally part of Chittenden County then Jefferson County which changed name to Washington County and Lamoille County when it was created in 1835.
Stowe’s population congregated in five distinct locations: the original Upper or North Village, the Center or Middle Village (present village), the Mill Village directly downstream named changed to the Lower Village, and Smith’s Falls (Moscow) and the Branch (currently the Mountain Road Village District)
Lumber and agriculture have been the essential industries of Stowe over most of its history.
The first cash crop was potash, leached from the wood ashes of the hardwood cut and burned in the clearing of land. Potash was used in making soap, tanning leather, and for many other purposes. Embargoed by the British during the War of 1812, resulting in a thriving contraband trade across the border--it is believed that the name “Smugglers Notch” may have originated from this and other contraband trade.
Raising sheep particulary Merino for its wool increased from the early 1820s until its peak in the mid 1860s.
Water power at Mill Village and Moscow supported early manufacturing, including saw and grist mills, butter tub factories, sash and blind mills, starch and axe factories, furniture and woodworking shops, carding mills and tannery, and a foundry.
Stowe at one time had 19 school districts and 19 one-room school houses.
At one time there were 10 covered bridges in Stowe built in the 1840s and 1850s; now there are but two - one bridge left over Gold Brook in Stowe Hollow and one over the West Branch at Brook Road. “Floods destroyed the majority, but several of the finest yielded to the automobile and modern progress.”
More than 300 historic buildings and sites are on the National Register have been identified by the state; about one half are in the Village. Most village buildings were constructed between 1810 and 1910.
Essentially a farming community at first, Stowe became a tourist destination (“a famous summer resort”) by the time of the Civil War, due to the exceptional beauty and scenery, and cool climate. Summer tourism has flowed and ebbed from the earliest settlement. World War I brought on a decrease but the Summit House remained popular until it's closing in 1957. The Green Mountain Inn has welcomed guests continually since about 1850 and tourist camps were built for the travelers by car in the 1930s. By the early 1950s motels were being added to the mix along with farmhouse stays. Time share properties, condominiums and resort properties offer a variety of options to the vacationing public.
From the introduction of Nordic skiing by several Swedish families in 1911, through the first ski race town the toll road in 1914, and the development of uphill transportation such as the high speed quads on Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak, the Gondola to the Chin, the Gondola from the base of Mt. Mansfield to the base of Spruce Peak, to the superb terrain and grooming, Stowe offers a memorable experience in alpine skiing. The several Nordic (cross country) ski areas at Topnotch, Trapp Nordic Center, Mt. Mansfield Nordic Center and Edson Hill Manor offer varying terrain and experiences. Hockey and free skating are the focus of the new ice arena to be opened in the fall of 2013.
The oldest church building in Stowe houses the Community Church. The Grace Baptist Church is in Moscow; the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church is on Mountain Road; Jewish Community of Greater Stowe is on Cape Cod Road; St. John's in the Mountains Episcopal Church is at the corner of Luce Hill Road and Mountain Road and the Ecumenical Mountain Chapel is mid-way up the Toll Road on Mt. Mansfield.