Located in a beautiful historic building next to the Vermont State House, the Historical Society's Museum is a great way to spend some time on a fall afternoon. American history buffs will enjoy learning about the history of Vermont, the museum's exhibits dating all the way back to the area's pre-European roots. Before I came to the museum I had no idea that Vermont was once its own country, The Republic of Vermont, for a brief period of time during the American Revolution. Vermont also has a really interesting military history, from Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of the American Revolution to the state's important role during the Civil War.
Vermont was the 14th state admitted to the Union, right after the original 13 colonies.
Admission is $5 for adults, $12 for families. The museum's Web site also has some really cool online exhibits that you can check out for free.
Hubbard Park, created in 1899 by John E. Hubbard (hence the name of the park), is both an excellent hiking spot for those who want to start their ascension from Elm Street or the State House and a nice family spot for those families who prefer to take their car up to one of the many parkings. The park, which towers over both State and Elm Streets, helps explain Montpelierites' love of nature.
We climbed all the way to the tower at the top of the park to loosen our legs after the 3-hour bus trip from Montreal. The view was spectacular.
A number of trails lead to Hubbard Park and its tower. The closest to the tower starts at the end of Court Street, behind the State House, but we took the one that starts at the corner of Parkway and Winter Streets. A map of the park is provided at the web link below.
Walking up and down State Street, you will see many state buildings which are visually appealing. From the beautiful gold dome of the capital building, to the manor style structure of the court house. For photography fans, you will not be disappointed.
Taking a right on Main Street at the cross section of State and Main, you will head into the heart of downtown. Some very cool, slightly edge shops and bars are this way. As well as some nice eateries, bookstores and coffee houses. Character is the best word to describe this area. I love it here. Cool place for photo ops as well. Many cool buildings with a creative touch.
Following Vermont's strong tradition of government by the People, the state house is open to visitors whenever its doors are open. Free guided tours are offered, but visitors are also encouraged to look around the building on their own, sit in on legislative sessions, and admire the State House's impressive collection of antiques, historic artifacts and furniture.
The State House as it stands today was built in the 19th Century, replacing an earlier structure that was destroyed by fire. The statue on top of the dome is Ceres, the Greek goddess of agriculture, farming always having been one of Vermont's largest industries.
During the summer the Vermont Symphony Orchestra holds free concerts on the State House lawn. Rooms inside the state house are used for free public concerts during the winter.
Seven tips on the Vermont State House already, one might think there is not much else to do in Montpelier. Well, we had not much time to seek out other attractions, so the State House was the first place to go. And why am I adding another tip on the State House? To show some pics of the interior.
You need not wait for a guided tour, which is only available from July through mid-October anyhow. The house is open year-round from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, admission free. What is more: no ID or safety checks, no terrorism scare, you are welcome to roam about the whole building. Get a free brochure which includes an expanded drawing and all the information you need on the House's history and its present state.
Farmers markets are always a good way to spend a free couple of hours when on vacation.
And the market in Montpelier is no different.
Whether you buy anything or whether you just browse, you can take lots of interesting pics and watch a lot of friendly people. These markets are where I always find my favorite.... fresh honey! I get the wild flower types rather than the more cloying clover variety.
Last time we were in the area was probably May of 1988.
Contrasting with the small scale of the rest of Montpelier, the Vermont State House is an imposing neoclassical building highlighted by a gold leaf dome. The large Greek-style columns are made from granite extracted from a nearby Barre quarry. Set against the backdrop of Hubbard Park, it is striking in any season.
Free guided tours of the richly-decorated interior are available every half-hour from July to mid-October: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For those who are not interested in a guided tour, the State House is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except state holidays).
In 1805 Montpelier became the capital of Vermont. The city sits among the foothills of the Green Mountains in north central Vermont. Constructed of local granite, the State Capitol was designed in a neoclassical style.
Doesn't it resemble the Capitol in Washington DC?
Montpelier is such a small town that the activities of State House seem to dominate, particularly when the House is sitting. The bus routes change (there are additional routes and additional buses on the old routes and they run later at night). The restaurants are busier and when we were there you could overhear caucus groups deep in discussion at the meal tables alongside you.
State House was built in 1859.
Another of the many significant buildings in Montpelier. Here is the 1881 Department of Agriculture offices in State Street opposite State House and almost opposite the Vermont Historical Society Museum.
Around the town are a lot of Victorian buildings and many of them have now had these plaques put on them. The second photo shows the building itself which has now been converted into a hairdresser on Main Street and at the rear of the building a drive through bank. I thought the change of use had still managed to retain the character of the old railway buildings.
Unlike many of the guidebooks which either fail to mention this museum or say not worth spending any time at this museum, I found this a well laid out and fascinating museum. We spent 3 hours at this museum and could have spent much longer, but were thrown out at closing time. I was particularly interested in two aspects - the early railway in Vermont and the early telegraph industry. Although they had a hands-on morse machine and sample facimile messages from the 1890s on display I would have liked to see mention of why the telegraph came and where in the various Vermont towns it actually came, but this is nit-picking on what is an excellent museum.
This small farm has been in the Morse family for over 200 years!! They make everything from maple syrup to maple candy. When you arrive, there is a free video in the "Sugar-Shack" that tells how the syrup is tapped, fermented, and prepared. There is even a trail that takes you into the woods showing models on how the trees are tapped and the syrup is collected. Admission is free.
Montpelier in the smallest Capitol City in the States. It's State Capitol Tour is a nice and many times a personal tour. Tours are at regular times just walk in and ask about the next tour at the front desk.