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Town of Manchester History
The Town of Manchester legally came into existence in 1761 when Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, by charter, designated our 42.67 square miles of Vermont as Manchester.
After suffering through the trials, tribulations and hardships that many of our forefathers endured in "settling" America in the latter 18th and early 19th centuries, Manchester, by the mid 1800's, had found its niche as a popular vacation destination for the burgeoning middle and upper class that accompanied our country's industrial revolution. At first, Manchester's tourist attraction was largely restricted to the summer season. But as Manchester, and America, evolved over the years our community has become known as a "four season" tourist retreat; offering leaf peeping and hunting in the fall, skiing in the winter, renowned trout fishing in the spring and virtually anything else your heart desires in the summer.
Since its early days Manchester has also served as a regional service and economic center for the "Northshire" (northern Bennington County). At one time or another, Manchester's landscape has been dotted by iron mines, marble mills, and lumber companies. One enterprise that has stood the test of time is The Orvis Company. Founded in 1856, Orvis is a leading manufacturer of quality fishing equipment and an international retailer of sporting goods and clothing.
Today our entrepreneurism still runs strong. Manchester is home to creative businesses like Battenkill Technologies, a small technology firm that performs contract research for the Office of Naval Research. A little known fact is that Jake Burton Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards, perfected snowboard design in his garage in Manchester. The company operated out of Manchester until 1992 when it relocated to Burlington, Vermont.
Over the years, the relatively new phenomenon of the factory outlet clothing store has become quite popular in Manchester. Today, visitors to our community come to shop at Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren and J. Crew, to name just a few, as well as dozens and dozens of locally owned shops. As a result our vibrant commercial core remains active throughout the year. In fact, despite our relatively small size of 4,300 residents Manchester's retail segment generates more state sales tax revenue than all but four other Vermont municipalities.
Today, Manchester is more than just a tourist town -- it's a community. Whether newcomer or native, most find Manchester a hard place to leave. It is truly a wonderful community in which to live, work and raise a family. Natural beauty, neighborly compassion and a serene quality of life make Manchester a unique community.
Among the other neighborhood that collectively make up Manchester, the Town has three distinct State-recognized historic districts -- the Depot district located on Highland Avenue and Elm Street, Bonnet Street, just north of Main Street and Main Street itself. We invite you to come explore our rich history and culture.
For more information on Manchester history read Otis and Bigelow's book Manchester, Vermont: A Pleasant Land Among the Mountains. The book is available at the Mark Skinner Library or for purchase at The Northshire Bookstore (a portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the 250th anniversary celebration of the Town's chartering, scheduled for August of 2011).