Community Spotlight: Bellows Falls
Boasting a population of 3,500 residents, Bellows Falls is the largest population center within the Town of Rockingham. It has long been recognized as a hub for the local agricultural economy due in large part to its canal system and railroad bridge, which were the first to serve as the crossroads for trading goods along the entire 410 mile-long Connecticut river.
Bellows Falls, like many Vermont communities, struggled during the 1970’s and 1980’s due to factory closings and a shift in development to the outskirts of town, leaving the Village in economic decline. However, residents and community leaders responded by forming Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance, which focused on the revitalization of Rockingham’s downtown core. The most important step in this process was gaining downtown designation under the state’s Downtown Program. The resulting incentives further enabled the community to restore several buildings, provide affordable housing units and increase retail space on two major downtown blocks. Our Community Planning Toolbox offers more detail about the value of this program and how it contributed to the success of Bellows Falls revitalization.
Once known as an agricultural and industrial center, Bellows Falls has transformed into a vibrant community, welcoming artists and businesses alike to take advantage of its renewed spirit.