Wilmington

by Susan Abbott
Averill's Stand near the present village of Wilmington serves as a reminder of the time when inns or ordinaries served as overnight stopping-places for the stages and six-horse freight teams that traversed the Molly Stark Trail over the mountains to Troy and the Erie Canal...Gone are these old places...Charles Edward Crane


I rolled down Route 9 past Searsburg and Medburyville (or so the map told me), and was surprised at the bottom of the hill to find myself in a real town, and one that I had never heard of before--Wilmington. I pulled out my trusty iphone to see if the internet could explain where the heck I was, and found the very informative town website, full of facts, figures and photos, and plenty of helpful municipal information, including a quote from Plato on the value of a just citizenry.

And Wilmington is justly proud of its Memorial Hall, designed by the renowned New York firm of McKim, Mead (a native of Brattleboro) & White--yes, that would be Stanford White, the most famous American architect of the 19th century. Peek through the front door, because though the hall is plain and brown as a Puritan saltbox on the outside, the interior is an astounding miniature version of Boston's Symphony Hall, with acoustics to match. Right before the turn of the century, local Civil War hero and Wilmington’s richest citizen Major Childs had a hunch that the economic future of Vermont was in tourism, and he hired Stanford White to design this concert hall and the handsome adjoining Child's Tavern, now Crafts Inn. (There were, and are, a high volume of well-moneyed, well-meaning enterprising eccentrics tucked away in our unassuming Vermont hamlets.) In 1891 the railroad finally reached Wilmington, and fulfilled Child's prediction: his town became a tourists' mecca.

I'll have to come back for another hour's stroll up East and down West Main Street, and take a longer and better look at the wealth of architecture in the little town of Wilmington. Dot's Restaurant ("A National Treasure!" according to the late, lamented Gourmet magazine) beckons, and a number of little shops invite. Most of all, I'd be happy to stand on Main Street Bridge and look up the little river that meanders through the little town of Wilmington like slow, unstoppable time .