Vergennes (population 2,741) is the smallest and oldest chartered city in Vermont. As early as 1764, a sawmill was constructed at the falls of Otter Creek, and the surrounding community was incorporated in 1788. The city's name was suggested by Ethan Allen to honor the Comte de Vergennes, who served as the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and negotiator of the Treaty of Paris.
Because of its proximity to Lake Champlain, Vergennes became the site of a U.S. Navy shipyard during the War of 1812. Later in the 19th century, trade on the lake and the arrival of the railroad encouraged extensive commercial development. Growth slowed in the 20th century, however, and Vergennes’ historic downtown declined, but recent revitalization efforts are reversing that trend. A major catalyst for this revitalization has been the rehabilitation of the Vergennes Opera House (1897). Vacant for two decades, the building was in serious disrepair when a $1.5 million restoration began in 1994. The building now serves as a performing arts center and is also used for City Council meetings and civic functions. The project has been a partnership of the City of Vergennes, the Friends of the Vergennes Opera House, and other organizations.
On the heels of the Opera House reopening in 1997, entrepreneurs began to take a new interest in the downtown. The Vergennes Partnership, a Main Street program, was established in 1999. The City has invested in traffic calming and beautification projects and is working to restore the Old Train Station, possibly the oldest clapboard station remaining in Vermont.
Vergennes Falls Park – Six and one half acres of land, this waterside park offers a beautiful system of walking paths, picnic areas, bank-fishing and boat launch.
From the intersection of Routes 7 and 22A , turn right onto Route 22A (Main Street) and go 1.6 miles, through center of Vergennes, down the hill and over the Otter Creek Bridge. Take your first right after the bridge onto Canal Street and go .1 mile. Veer right at the rotary onto Mechanic Street as you continue down the hill toward the water.
Ever since Samuel de Champlain stumbled through the Green Mountains in 1609, Lake Champlain has been one of the most important—and fought for—waterways in the Northeast. Wedged between New York, Vermont, and Canada, the lake has hosted bloody battles and bootlegging operations, plus the gamut of shipboard shenanigans. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum reveals the history of this contested body of water, both as a traditional museum (pictures, plaques, artifacts), and as a functional docking station (the museum even harbors its own seaworthy replicas—the Lois McClure and the Philadelphia II). You'll find shipwreck tours, a small-boat festival, occasional races, and authentic metal-working in the blacksmith's shop.
Vergennes is Vermont's oldest city, established in 1788, and is also Vermont's first incorporated city. It is home to about 2,800 people, and covers approximately 1200 acres of land which was carved from the three neighboring Towns of Ferrisburgh, Panton and Waltham. Vergennes is located on Route 22A in Addison County, 25 miles south of Burlington and 12 miles north of Middlebury.
The City's name was suggested by Ethan Allen to honor the Comte de Vergennes who served as the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and negotiator of the Treaty of Paris.
Vergennes was very much a part of the War of 1812 due to the navigability of Otter Creek providing access to Lake Champlain. Commodore Thomas MacDonough commanded the building of a naval fleet to defend the Lake against the British invasion. A marker designating the site of the shipyard can be found on the east side of Otter Creek in the Basin area of Vergennes.
The State's oldest city welcomes you to discover Vermont and all it has to offer. A rich history spanning over 200 years. Striking Architecture and a City Green surrounded by some of the best shopping and dining in the County. Everything is within an easy stroll. Friendly people and exciting attractions. And best of all, it's easy to get to, whether you're driving, flying, or coming by boat.