A Vibrant Vermont Community
West Brattleboro Center, undated photograph. Collection of Brattleboro Historical Society.
The Molly Stark Byway winds through the heart of the village of West Brattleboro, past the small cluster of well-preserved 19th-century buildings around a small triangular green located about two miles west of downtown Brattleboro. Bonnyvale Brook, Whetstone Brook, and rounded Vermont hills create a striking natural setting. The village is now on the National Register of Historic Places, featuring a Historic District that consists of 100 acres and 17 buildings of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture.
Living Memorial Park, across the Creamery Bridge from the Molly Stark Byway, has reflected the community's interest in swimming, softball, skiing, and skating for over 50 years.
Lost Vermont Ski Areas
Bonnyvale Area was one of a number of tiny, short-lived "backyard" ski areas that provided generally free skiing (if you arrived early to pack down the snow) to local residents in the first, simple years after the sport was introduced to southern Vermont. These ski areas usually consisted of very narrow paths through woods that opened up into broad meadows at the base. A former enthusiast remembers the 1930s sedan parked in a shed at the top of the hill that provided power for the single rope tow.
Fred Harris, born in Brattleboro in 1887, was one of the pioneers of winter sports in this country. He introduced ski jumping to Brattleboro and directed the construction of Harris Hill, the ski jump that bears his name. He inaugurated a series of increasingly successful ski meets in Brattleboro that laid the foundation for the modern winter sports industry in this area.
Front of grist mill in "West Village" as West Brattleboro was originally known. Collection of Brattleboro Historical Society.
Three streams run through West Brattleboro. In the early days, river rocks proved valuable to farmers to whet (grind) their tools, so one brook became known as Whetstone Brook. Another stream cuts a beautiful valley in a high area between West Brattleboro and Guilford, thus the name "Bonnyvale Brook." Ames Hill Brook is a tributary of the Whetstone and was the site of several mills.
Panoramic view of West Brattleboro, west of the Creamery Bridge.