Montpelier, Vermont, the capital of the state of Vermont, is located in the Winooski River valley at 44.3° north and 72.6° west. Montpelier currently has a population of about 8400. The city is the smallest state capital in the country.
Little is known about the original settlers of the area. Archeological research has discovered that this part of the Winooski River was settled in the 13th century. The banks of the river were good for agricultural development, making the area ripe for settlement. The local tribes dispersed just after the arrival of European settlers, either from war or disease.
Massachusetts chartered the settlement of Montpelier in 1781, and settlers soon arrived in the area. The earliest known structure is Colonel Davis' log cabin, built in 1787. When Vermont achieved statehood in 1791, Montpelier had a population of 113.
The configuration of the settlement was based mostly on the terrain of the valley. In 1799, a bridge was constructed across the Winooski for a road connecting the town with Berlin. The perpendicular street that ran along the river would eventually become Main Street. The pattern for streets downtown, although affected by a large fire in 1875 and the flood of 1927, still remains very similar to the original layout.
In 1805, the government of Vermont was looking for a permanent location for the capital
. Montpelier was chosen, not so much because of it's importance to the state, but rather because it was in a central location. Through funding from local businessmen, a small capitol building
was constructed on State Street. In 1837, a lager building replaced the original, only to be destroyed in a fire in 1857. The current statehouse
was built in 1859, and is still the home of the government
The financial services sector started growing with the founding of Vermont Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1828. With the founding of the National Life Insurance Company and the Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1848, the town found its economy deeply rooted in government and finance. Other businesses included nine granite works, which polished stones taken from the quarries in Barre.
After the Civil War, a small college relocated it's campus from Newbury, and renamed itself the Montpelier Seminary. A name change to Vermont Junior College came in 1936, and to Vermont Women's College in 1953. Norwich College took over administration of the school in 1972, and it is now known as Vermont College of Norwich University.
Montpelier was officially incorporated as a city in 1895, with the official city limits firmly set in 1898. In 1899, local businessman John Hubbard gave the town 133 acres for a city park that now bears his name. In 1911, the land where the Hubbard Tower stands was donated and added to the park.
The city continued to grow ever so slightly during a period of emigration from the area. Recent development and growth is a result of the state government and financial sector expansion.
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