|Grafton, Vermont Guide|
|One of Vermont's most picture-perfect towns, with tall old trees, white churches with high steeples, and gracious old houses designed with classical touches.|
Grafton, Vermont, 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Bellows Falls VT (map), is a piece of old New England—the best of old New England.
There is a beauty and nobility about this town— something like Woodstock— that makes it special.
Carefully preserved houses and public buildings from a century or two ago are joined unobtrusively by more modern structures on the outskirts. The whole is truly a living museum, in more than appearance.
A century and a half ago, Grafton was a thriving town on the Boston-Albany post road that made its living from sheepherding, woollen manufacturing, tanning, quarrying soapstone for stoves, cheese-making, sawmills and grist mills.
But with the coming of the 20th century, the center of sheepherding moved west, many of the old-fashioned mills became obsolete, and noble Grafton suffered serious decline.
Enter Mr Dean Mathey and the Windham Foundation. Mr Mathey, a successful investment banker with longtime ties to Grafton, set up and funded the foundation in 1963 to restore and preserve Grafton in all its beauty.
The Foundation owns about half of the historic buildings in the village center, including the Grafton Inn, the Sumner-Mead House (now the Grafton Historical Society), the Grafton Village Cheese Company, and Gallery North Star. So Grafton today is living history, but also a real Vermont village with 600 residents and several thriving businesses.
Among the best times to visit Grafton is early spring when they're "sugaring off," and see town children tap the maple trees along village streets for maple syrup.
Come in summer and enjoy a visit to the town's historical museum. Then explore for yard and antiques sales.
Come in autumn for the blazing fall foliage color and a visit to the local cheese company to sample their many varieties of cheddar. Or come in winter to hide away in the historic Grafton Inn and dine each night from a superb menu.
Summer or winter, Grafton is a place bewitching in its beauty.
Stop for a cup of coffee, a drink or a meal, or even for overnight. Be careful, though—one overnight easily leads to weeklong stays here. If that's what you want, the Windham Foundation owns several small houses in the village that are available for short-term rental. Contact the Grafton Inn for details.
—by Tom Brosnahan