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History of Rutland

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The Rutland Historical Society was founded in 1969 to serve the original town of Rutland which includes the present towns of Proctor, Rutland Town, West Rutland and the City of Rutland.

The original Rutland was chartered in 1761 as part of the New Hampshire Grants by the Provincial Governor Benning Wentworth. The first settlers arrived in 1770 led by Colonel James Mead. Almost immediately a controversy arose with New York claiming the same land grants under the name of “Socialborough.” This controversy ultimately led to the Vermonters forming the Republic of Vermont from 1777-1791. Vermont became the fourteenth state in 1791.

Old Fort Rutland

Old Fort Rutland
During the early 1800’s the Rutland area was known for agriculture and for the sheep industry. By the mid 1800’s the development of the marble industry and the arrival of the railroads created an industrial and retail boom which brought many immigrant workers to the Rutland area. Rutland has continued to grow in industry and population to become the largest city in Southern Vermont.

Downtown Rutland, VT

From modest beginnings, the Society has progressed to be a very active organization. It has received awards of excellence from the Vermont League of Local Historical Societies for its quarterly magazine, and for its monthly television series “Historically Speaking”.  This television series airs on the local public access channel, and can be seen on demand (in streaming video), on the public access web site. The Society also publishes a newsletter about Society activities. A Rutland Historical Society column entitled “Tidbits From Then and Now” is published in “Sam’s Good News”, a local weekly newspaper. Six hundred of the back issues of “Tidbits From Then and Now” can be viewed on our web site. The Society also offers history programs for groups of all ages from kindergarten to senior citizens.  The programs are conducted both at the Society, and at other locations.

The Society collects, preserves, and shares all manner of materials.  This includes books, manuscripts, photographs, textiles, and special collections.  For example, there is an extensive collection of Rutland newspapers including the Rutland Herald, municipal court records, cemetery records and much more.

The Society has nearly 600 members from 32 states. The activities of the Society are accomplished through the work of dedicated volunteers. The Society welcomes all gifts of items, collections of historical significance, bequests, or donations, so that it may continue to preserve the past and enrich future generations. Your participation is welcomed through volunteer work, membership, or donations.  You are encouraged to visit the Society at 96 Center Street to do some research, or view the changing exhibits.  

What's New

Society Hours:

Mon. - 6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.

Sat. -   1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Vermont House of Representative Resolution honoring curator Jim Davidson and the Rutland Historical Society

Our Message Board has been shut down due to spamming.  Please direct any questions to

Email - or use our Facebook  page.


Read the Cover Story on Jim Davidson in the Rutland Reader


Update:  The digitization of the West Rutland High School Yearbooks has been completed.  Look in the Historical Resources section for the "Green & Gold " from 1908-2014.

New video:    Life In Rutland County shares the stories and memories from 10 local residents who grew up in Rutland County. These engaging stories, told by the people who rode horses to school and even took the trolley from Rutland to Lake Bomoseen, gives us a unique perspective on Vermont history.   Located in "Historical Moving Images".

Three slide collections have been added to Image Gallery.  Check out the images from Early Rutland Fair, Early Transportation Rods, and Bridges, and Popular Vacation Spots for Rutlanders.

The Rutland Historical Society proudly presents a new 50 minute virtual walking tour of Rutland.

This is an audio visual tour of the Rutland Courthouse Historic District and the Rutland Downtown Historic District. The tour begins at the historic Main Street Park and moves along Center Street to Downtown Rutland. It then goes along Merchants Row, up Washington Street and back to Main Street Park. This completes a rectangular tour of the two Rutland historic districts. Photographs, past and present, are carried along in a vibrant flow led by a fast-paced narration. This is a slice of Rutland’s history as you have never seen before.  

Click here to view The Virtual Walking Tour.  It is also available in our Historical Moving Images section.

The web site is the result of volunteer effort, however, there are always related costs that cannot be met by volunteers. We are dedicated to present a free web site with no commercial advertising. We hope that as you find our work useful in your pursuits, you might consider financial donations of thanks and support. Many small supports build large bridges to the future.

Recently our Society opened its first major fund drive in over 20 years to meet some deferred building maintenance and improvements. [click here] to view the Letter of the Treasurer on this need.

We continue to depend on our many volunteers to maintain and continue to develop this web site of which we are quite proud. Any financial help will be gratefully received and viewed as a vote of support to the hours donated by volunteers. 





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