Newfane Vermont

1909 Bird's eye view of Newfane, VT

1909 Bird’s eye view of Newfane, VT [a]

Newfane Vermont is the shire town[3] (county seat)[4] of Windham County. The population was 1,726 at the 2010 census. The town includes the villages of Newfane and Williamsville.

One of the New Hampshire grants, it was chartered on June 19, 1753 by Governor Benning Wentworth, who named it Fane after John Fane, the 7th Earl of Westmorland. But hostilities during the French and Indian War prevented its settlement. Because a first town meeting was not held within the required five years, the charter was deemed null and void. So Wentworth issued an entirely new charter on November 3, 1761 as New Fane. The town was settled in 1766 by families from Worcester County, Massachusetts.[5] Newfane became the shire town of the county before 1812. Atop Newfane Hill, they built a village, including the county buildings. Because of winter travel difficulties, however, it was relocated to the flatland below in 1825, until 1882 called Fayetteville after the Marquis de Lafayette.[6]

The town has a diversified terrain, with both high hills and deep valleys. Farmers found good soil for cultivation on the intervales, and for grazing livestock on the uplands. Various streams provided water power for mills, and by 1859 industries included manufacturers of both leather and linseed oil, two flour mills, two lumber mills, and a large carriage factory.[7] As a result, Newfane became prosperous during the 19th-century, when it built the Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian architecture that today makes it a favorite tourist destination.[8]

1825 Windham County Courthouse in Newfane, VT

1825 Windham County Courthouse in Newfane, VT [a]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 40.4 square miles (104.6 km2), of which 40.2 square miles (104.2 km2) is land and 0.1 square mile (0.4 km2) (0.35%) is water. The West and Rock rivers flow through the town.[9]


As of the census[1] of 2010, there were 1,726 people, 771 households, and 493 families residing in the town. The population density was 41.7 people per square mile (16.1/km2). There were 1090 housing units at an average density of 24.3 per square mile (9.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.80% White, 0.70% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 1.00% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.90% of the population.

There were 693 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.1% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.88.

1899 Moore Free Library in Newfane, VT [a]

1899 Moore Free Library in Newfane, VT [b]

In the town the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 32.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $60,114, and the median income for a family was $51,328. Males had a median income of $33,882 versus $27,426 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,215. About 4.7% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.1% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.

Site of Interest

Williamsville Covered Bridge, built in 1870

Notable People in Local History

Harrison G. O. Blake, US congressman
Asa Belknap Foster, businessman and politician
Eugene Field, poet, author, and journalist, once lived with his grandmother in Newfane[citation needed]
Robert Fritz, author, composer and film-maker
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist
Arthur Otis Howe, Vermont state representative and senator
Marshall Otis Howe, Vermont state legislator
Paul Holland Knowlton, businessman and politician
John H. Merrifield, politician
Archer Mayor, author of mystery novels
Henriette Mantel, Emmy Award winning writer, actress, producer, director, and stand-up comic

Popular Culture

In 1963, Newfane was a filming location for one episode of the CBS series, Route 66. The episode, entitled I Wouldn’t Start From Here, starred Martin Milner and Glenn Corbett.

In 2006, Newfane became one of the first American towns to have its citizens pass a resolution endorsing the impeachment of President George W. Bush.[10]

Historical Perspective

Newfane lies about 100 miles S. from Montpelier and 12 N.W. from Brattleborough [Brattleboro]. First settled, 1766. The town is watered by a branch of West river, and several other streams. The surface of the town is diversified by hills and valleys; the soil is good, and produces white oak and walnut in abundance. There is but little waste land in the town: the uplands are inferior to none for grazing, and the intervales afford excellent tillage. Newfane exhibits a great variety of minerals, among which are some of value. Perhaps no town in the state presents a more inviting field for the mineralogist than this.

There are two pleasant villages in the town. The centre village contains the county buildings: it is on elevated land, and commands a very extensive and delightful prospect. Population in 1830: 1,441.

Source: Hayward’s New England Gazetteer of 1839


  1. American FactFinder”. United States Census Bureau.
  2. US Board on Geographic Names“. United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25.
  3. Title 24, Part I, Chapter 1, §14, Vermont Statutes.
  4. Find a County“. National Association of Counties.
  5. Hayward’s New England Gazetteer of 1839
  6. Virtual Vermont — Newfane, Vermont
  7. Austin J. Coolidge & John B. Mansfield, A History and Description of New England; Boston, Massachusetts 1859
  8. Virtual Vermont — Newfane, Vermont
  9. DeLorme (1996). Vermont Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 0-89933-016-9
  10. Four Vermont Towns Vote to Impeach Bush Associated Press. Published on 03-08-08.

Photo Credits

  1. Reproduced from an original postcard published by Porter C. Thayer, Williamsville, Vermont. It predates 1923, therefore it is released into the [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Third biennial report of the Board of Library Commissioners of Vermont, 1899-1900. NY: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford, printers, 1900. It predates 1923, therefore it is released into [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Header Image: By Jared and Corin, upload by Herrick (Covered Bridge, Dummerston, Vermont) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

External links

This article is licensed (except where noted) under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article Newfane, Vermont


Newfane Vermont was last modified: February 26, 2017 by