International Paper once had a mill at the current site of Wilder Dam.

Wilder was Vermont's First Planned Community


Submitted 6 months ago

Wilder Village was the first planned community in Vermont.  The village, originally named Olcott Falls, was developed, in part, by Charles Wilder, a businessman who built a paper mill there in the 1880s. One feature of Wilder's plan was an orderly street plan in which streets were laid out at right angles, with several of the streets named after trees. The Historic District we see today is a village that was planned for employees of the paper mill. The village was renamed in honor of Charles Wilder in 1897. (His will included $12,000 for the construction of a bridge across the Connecticut River connecting Olcott, Vt.  and Lebanon, N.H. with the stipulation that the village of Olcott be renamed Wilder.) The Wilder family sold the mill to International Paper in 1899.

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Wilder boasted a railroad station, a  post office, several retail stores, and electric street lights. The iron bridge spanning the Connecticut River that was paid for by Wilder's will, the paper mill and the dam that supplied power to the mill were demolished in 1950 and replaced by the current Wilder Dam power station. 

The Town of Hartford continues its celebration of the community’s historic buildings and sites this week. On Saturday, May 19th at 10:00 a.m. there will be a gathering at the Wilder Club and Library, located at 78 Norwich Avenue, to walk the village and learn about how it developed and why it looks the way it does, identify architectural styles and elements. This is a rain or shine, family-friendly event and will include a virtual tour and presentation at the Wilder Club for those who do not wish to walk, a build your own architectural modeling station, a takeaway coloring book, and an introduction to a new historic geocache in Hartford’s five villages. For more information, please contact Planner Matt Osborn at 295-3075 or mosborn@hartford-vt.org

 F.X. Finn assembled photographs of the Wilder Mill in the video below. 

Hartford has nine historic districts that include an extraordinary number of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, currently over 500 and growing! Many of these structures are more than 150 years old. These historic resources tell the stories of our town, our families, and how we live our lives today. All of these buildings and sites represent our heritage and contribute to the unique look and feel of our neighborhoods and villages.

If you have any suggestions for preservation projects or National Register nominations, please contact Matt Osborn at mosborn@hartford-vt.org.

For further information about the Town’s historic resources visit the Town’s website (Hartford-vt.org)

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