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Williamstown Town History

Wiiliamstown is located in the northwest corner of Orange County. Route 14, running north-south, bisects the Town and provides access to the cities of Barre and Montpelier to the north. Route 64 runs from Route 14 in Williamstown Village westerly to I89, providing easy access to communities northwest and south. Located in the valley, the Village is the geographical center of the Town.

Settled in the late 16th Century, Williamstown's population increased until the mid-1800's, when following the Civil War it began declining. The population grew rapidly between 1880 and 1910 with the coming of the railroad and the increasing number of jobs in granite related industries. Between 1910 and 1960, the population has been increasing. Between 1970 and 1980, population increased more rapidly than at any other time in this Century. Continued growth during the Eighties finds Williamstown with a population of 2,839. This changes Williamstown's status from Rural Town to Urban Municipality.

Soil and groundwater contamination first discovered in 1983 made clean water and safe waste disposal issues debated by all townspeople. Changes to Williamstown's infrastructure during the past decade demonstrate Williamstown's commitment to health and safety.

Williamstown's experience with pollution both surprised and tested the community . Debate over responsibility, cleanup , and future protection appeared, at times , to divide the citizenry . Consensus, however, gradually developed. Today, Williamstown finds itself stronger and better prepared for the future.

School enrollment declined during the mid-Eighties for two reasons. First there was the pollution concern, and second, Barre Town ad Barre City joined to form a high school district. This merger deprived Williamston of tuition students from Barre Town. During the last five years, however, Elementary School enrollments have increased. Subsequently, the sixth grade was located in the High School building as part of the Middle School. The school directors have discussed appointing a committee to study future school expansion needs.

Williamstown is primarily a residential community and wants to continue to encourage residential growth while also expanding its commercial /industrial base at a rate at which the Town's services can reasonably absorb. The Town does not intend to grow at the expense of the natural environment. New growth must be non-polluting, in appropriate locations, and in harmony with scenic character of the Town. Agricultural and forest land provide Williamstown with its scenic beauty and represent important assets in Williamstown's future growth.


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