Middlebury in Addison County, Vermont — The American Northeast (New England)
Town & Gown
The Shire Town
Middlebury was chartered in 1761 as one of New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth’s land grants. The first settlers claimed land in the town in 1766, but were forced back to southern New England during the Revolutionary War. Permanent settlement began in 1783, on a site south of the present village. When that land was found to be in Salisbury rather than in Middlebury, town father Gamaliel Painter traded his parcel for a site on the powerful Middlebury Falls. While most of Middlebury’s early settlers were occupied with subsistence farming, Painter and other citizens envisioned the founding of an important town.
The town leaders’ plans for future glory included Middlebury, the shire town of Addison County. Painter donated land for a courthouse, jail, churches, green, and other amenities expected of a town on the move, while serving as the town’s sheriff and judge. He and other local luminaries succeeded in getting Middlebury made the county seat, ensuring an influx of lawyers and professionals. Mills and other industries soon sprang up on the banks of Otter Creek at the fall. What else would the town
In 1798, Yale President Timothy Dwight was passing through Middlebury and agreed to meet with Gamaliel Painter and the Trustees of the Addison County Grammar School to advise them on how to start an institution of higher learning. Middlebury College opened with only seven students in the fall of 1800, on land donated by local lawyer Seth Storrs. Its original purpose was to train young men for the ministry and other learned professions. Middlebury College would later be one of the earliest all-male educational institutions in New England to go co-ed, the trustees voting to accept women in 1883.
The College’s founders emphasized that Middlebury was the “town’s college,” and not the other way around. In Middlebury, town and gown have enjoyed a long and harmonious relationship. From local residents enjoying college events to students doing service projects in the community, both the Town and the College have benefitted from their close proximity. In 2010, in another creative collaboration, the Cross Street Bridge was jointly funded by the Town and the College
Erected by Town of Middlebury, Lake Champlain Byway, Federal Highway Administration.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Education • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 44° 0.726′ N, 73° 10.149′ W. Marker is in Middlebury, Vermont, in Addison County. Marker is at the intersection of Cross Street and Main Street (Vermont Route 30), on the right when traveling west on Cross Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Middlebury VT 05753, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John Deere (within shouting distance of this marker); Marble Works Memorial Bridge (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Battell Block (about 600 feet away); Middlebury Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ancient Paths (approx. 0.2 miles away); Emma Willard (approx. 0.2 miles away); Court Square (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Addison County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Middlebury.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 11, 2019, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. This page has been viewed 108 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 11, 2019, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.