Castleton

by Susan Abbott
The Bibical injunction is "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house," but I sin that sin every time I ride about Vermont... Charles Edward Crane


Castleton is home to one of our state's small public college's (originally one of the country's first medical schools) as well as the locus of about the nicest possible conglomeration of nineteenth century architecture. The town has a long and storied history. In 1775 Ethan Allen and a large pack of the Green Mountain boys galluped down Main Street (no doubt much to the alarm and disgust of the staid Puritan residents) and over brews at the Remington tavern plotted their attack on the British at Fort Ticonderoga.

Castleton continued to grow as a farming community following the war, and during the nineteenth century the slate and marble industries thrived. Lovely nearby Lake Bomoseen became a vacation mecca with luxury hotels and trolley service to town--a transportation innovation whose time should come again!

Industry and agriculture flourished, and residents along Main Street replaced log cabins with dignified Federal and Greek Revival mansions. Some of the most remarkable were built by homegrown architectural wunderkind Thomas Dake, especially famous for the elegance of his residential staircases.


Fires, the scourge of pre-electrical civilization, devastated much of the town's center in the early twentieth century, and Castleton's prosperity subsequently declined. But it remains one of the loveliest villages in the state, and I'd argue with any New Yorker that no town over their border (just seven miles away) can compare.