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Waitsfield, VT

General Benjamin Wait: 1736 -1822

One of the pioneer statesmen of Vermont and the founder of the town of Waitsfield Benjamin Wait was born in Sudbury, Mass., one of seven children. In 1744 his father John moved the family to Brookfield, Mass., where he opened an Inn on the Great Post Road between Boston and Albany. Benjamin was a "strapping lad", large for his age and with a love for hunting and outdoor life. At night by the tavern hearth he would listen to the tales of frontier life and Indian warfare from the many travelers who passed through Brookfield. At eighteen he enlisted in the Provincial Army to fight in the French and Indian Wars around Lake George and Lake Champlain. Known as a successful hunter and scout, it wasn't long before he was sent to join Rodgers Rangers, made famous in the novel "Northwest Passage". This was his first taste of the wild and beautiful country – known as the Hampshire Grants – that was to become Vermont.

Joslin Memorial Library

The Neo-Classical Joslin Memorial Library, built in 1913 and donated by the son of early settler, Joseph Joslin. After George Joslin built a newspaper empire in Omaha, Nebraska, he gave funds for a library in Waitsfield in remembrance of his boyhood home and his settler grandfather. Joslin offered the services of his favored architect, John MacDonald of Omaha, who had built his house in 1903 and, in 1931, designed the Art Deco Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. The H. P. Cumming Construction Company of Ware, Massachusetts, erected the library under the supervision of Montpelier architect F. A. Walker. The library brought refined Beaux-Arts classicism to the Mad River Valley. The square, hipped-roof building on a high basement is built of yellow brick with Indiana limestone detailing. Writing Credits Author: Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson

Wait House

When he settled in Waitsfield General Wait built a log cabin, which he later replaced with a 1-story frame house on the “Loop Road”, now known as Old County Road. Sometime in the 1830’s the house was moved to its present site and a second story added. In 1995, the Town of Waitsfield was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Federal Transportation Enhancement Fund (ISTEA) for the house to include a visitor center. In addition, the Waitsfield Historical Society raised $50,000 to assist the town in purchasing the property. The Burley Partnership, Waitsfield, known for their work with historic projects, undertook the research and restoration of the General Wait House. Careful attention was given to original paint colors and wallpaper samples found during the renovation. In digging out the foundation, many artifacts were found, some of which are shown in the exhibit. The ground floor of the house was returned as much as possible to the original 1793 plan.

Great Eddy Bridge

the state's second-oldest covered bridge—the clear-span, Burr arch truss Great Eddy Bridge of 1833.

The Village

The village of Waitsfield was established early in the 19th century as the commercial center for the rural farming communities of the Mad River Valley. The nucleus of this small village is the intersection of Route 100 and Bridge Street, the later of which is aptly named for the Great Eddy Covered Bridge spanning the Mad River just east of the intersection. Confined by the topography of the land, Waitsfield developed narrowly in the low lying valley bottom along the river. The Great Eddy Bridge is a major landmark of the district. As the oldest operating covered bridge in the State, the Great Eddy reflects the period of mass covered bridge construction in Vermont's transportation history. Unlike other towns in central Vermont, Waitsfield was bypassed by the railroad. As a result, the Waitsfield Historic District is reflective of the type of development experienced by small Vermont villages in the 19th century, without the prosperity, rapid expansion, and population growth of towns along railroad lines. In addition to supporting the local farming industry, Waitsfield was home to prosperous manufacturing, for which the Mad River supplied water power.

More History Soon....

We will updating this page soon with more History of Waitsfield.

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