Vergennes, founded in 1788, is the third oldest incorporated city in the U.S. and home to 2,800 residents. Positioned seven miles inland from Lake Champlain on the navigable Otter Creek, Vergennes was an ideal location for a naval shipyard during the War of 1812, a site which can still be visited today. As the only inland port city on Lake Champlain with a railroad stop, Vergennes developed into a hub for trade.
By the 1990’s, however, Vergennes had faded somewhat from its historic splendor. The main strip along 22A was looking weathered with several buildings in desperate need of revitalization, until one project helped reverse this downward trend. In 1994, the Vergennes Opera House was restored and re-opened in 1997, one hundred years after it was first built. The success of the project spurred the formation of the Vergennes Partnership in 1999, to organize the revitalization of Main Street, the Riverfront and to gain State Downtown Designation. The tax credits that resulted in the Downtown Designation were used to improve sidewalks, develop handicap accessibility, make facade improvements, and much more. Vergennes has benefited from this program by earning the most tax credit and grant money per capita in the State from the program.
Vergennes is a town on the rise with much to offer any visitor or resident. Boaters make up a large number of summer visitors to the city and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum draws visitors from across the region all summer long. You can also visit the Rokeby Museum to learn more about the Underground Railroad. So, on your next trip through Addison County, stop in Vergennes and admire the recent revitalization and the unique history it holds.