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Our History

Understanding Randolph's town history helps us understand who we are today.

Below we present a brief history of the Town of Randolph. This timeline is derived from the content provided in the Randolph History Panel by the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation

If you believe there are other important events in the town history that should be included in this timeline please use the contact form to let us know.

Randolph History

  • 18th century Randolph
    A Rich Agricultural Land

    18th century Randolph was shaped by the rich agricultural land at the confluence of several streams and rivers, including Thayer Brook, Ayer’s Brook, and the Second and Third branch to the White River. These river valleys, and the agricultural and forest products that grew so well there, were at the core of the town’s prosperity for 200 years. In addition to agriculture, the State Department of Agriculture worked hard to encourage silviculture, and wood products were a foundation of the economy. Mills for lumber, and eventually moldings and furniture, became very important to Randolph’s economy.

  • 1775
    Squatter's Law

    A pioneer named Experience Davis accompanied the St. Regis Native Americans to South Randolph and claimed 1,533 acres by squatter’s law. At this time Vermont was not an independent state, and Randolph was located in the New Hampshire Grants.

  • 1777
    Leading the Nation

    Vermont becomes the first state to abolish slavery.

    map of Vermont 1795 - Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. LOC 2017586669.

  • 1781
    Setting Boundaries

    On June 29th, the General Assembly of Vermont granted Randolph’s Town Charter and by 1785 Town boundaries were established.

  • 1789
    An Equine Legacy is Born

    Justin Morgan, a teacher, composer, businessman and horseman moved to Randolph and bred a bay colt named Figure. Figure was the founding sire of the Morgan breed and was valued for his ability to hand down his legendary traits, such as his ability to out-walk, out-trot, out-run, and out-pull other horses.

    Morgan Horse etching

  • 1790
    First Congregational Church

    First Congregational Church was built near the intersection of the main east-west and north-south highways in Randolph Center, where it remains today. Churches were often the center of social and religious activities.

  • 1792
    First Tavern

    The first tavern in town was built at the present Red Schoolhouse in Randolph Center. Taverns served an essential role for residents and travelers. Mail and news were brought to taverns weekly. Taverns lost business when the railroads replaced the need for transportation by horse.

  • 1806
    Early Schools

    Orange County Grammar School and West Randolph Academy were founded in Randolph Center, at the site of what is now the campus of Vermont State University.

  • 1807
    Ringing Bells

    A Paul Revere bell was installed on the Congregational Church in Randolph Center, which served an early method of communication, as a demarcation of time, and also as an alarm in instances of fire and death.

    The bell recieved by Randolph was made in the last year of Revere's life. See The Herald story on Randolph's history with bells.

  • 1848
    The Railroad Arrives

    The first Railroad came through Randolph. The railroad provided transportation, increased capacity of trading routes, and gave Randolph a social and cultural connection to the outside world that was important to the development of town life.

  • The 1850's
    Shifting Center of Town

    With the construction of the Vermont Central Railroad in the west side of town, the center of activity shifted from East Randolph and Randolph Center to West Randolph. Randolph’s public transit organization, Tri-Valley Transit, is headquartered on the location of the Railroad’s first town property.

  • The 1860's
    Main Street Blooms

    Main Street developed into the shopping center of the town. Several companies and residences developed in West Randolph, including the Salisbury Furniture Company.

  • 1873
    Read All About It!

    The “Green Mountain Herald” was established. The paper later changed its name to “Herald and News” in 1877. The Herald and News was sold to Mr. John Drysdale in 1945 and taken over by his son Dick Drysdale in 1971 and Tim Calabro in 2015. The White River Valley Herald continues to serve readers throughout the White River Valley.

  • 1884
    The Great Fire

    The “Great fire” burned 14 businesses on the east side of Main Street. The buildings along the east side of Main Street were wisely rebuilt in brick

  • 1889
    New School

    A new grammar school was established at School Street and Main Street. The school was located at 28 North Main, the current site of the offices of Dubois & King Engineers. The school’s original stone sign is displayed in the building’s lobby.

  • 1896

    Sargent Osgood and Roundy Company moved to West Randolph on Prince Street. The company manufactured a variety of well-built farm implements and tools.

  • The 1900's
    Gifford is Established

    Dr. John Gifford’s Sanatorium (hospital) transformed a large mansion on the corner of South Main & Maple Streets into Cottage Hospital (now Gifford Medical Center).

  • 1903
    Kimball Public Library is Built

    Kimball Public Library was donated to the town by Colonel Robert J. Kimball, a local resident who became a successful financier in New York City, and philanthropist at home.

    Randolph became a “dry” town. Bethel usually voted “wet,” so Randolph townspeople would often make their weekly purchases in Bethel, resulting in many accidents along Route 12

    Kimball Public Library

  • 1908
    Chandler is Built

    Chandler Music Hall was donated to the town by Albert B. Chandler, a friend of Colonel Kimball.

    Chandler Center for the Arts logo

  • 1910
    College Campus in Randolph

    The State legislature determined the need for a state agriculture school and established the Vermont School of Agriculture. In 1957 Technical courses were added and the school changed its name to Vermont Agriculture and Technical Institute (VATI). In 1962, VATI changed its name to Vermont Technical College and it became a part of the State College system, now Vermont State University.

  • 1914 - 1918
    Serving the Nation During WWI

    156 residents of Randolph served during World War I

  • 1916

    There were 53 organizations in Randolph that ranged from religious, fraternal, social, political, benevolent, and literary. 

  • 1927
    The 1927 Flood

    In the Great Vermont Flood of 1927, the Main Street bridge over the White River collapsed and resulted in $50,000 in damages.

  • 1939 - 1945
    Serving the Nation During WWII

    Over 300 residents of Randolph served in the armed forces during World War II.

  • The 1950's
    Changing Times, Economic Shift

    Traditional industries such as wood-working were giving way to plastics and service enterprises. New manufacturing enterprises, like Vermont Castings, were occupying the industrial park on Beanville Road.

  • 1951
    Route 66

    Route 66, connecting Randolph Center and East Randolph, was built by post-World War II state development projects to employ veterans coming home from the war

    Vermont Route 66 opens

  • 1956
    Area High School

    Randolph Union High School on Forest Street was built, which combined the towns of Randolph and Braintree. Brookfield joined later in 1966.

    Orange Southwest School District | Randolph Union High School logos

  • The 1960's
    The Interstate

    The interstate highway, I-89, was extended to the White River Valley. The highway adversely affected local farms and shops by making it easier to travel further from home for basic needs.

  • 1966
    Clara Martin in Randolph

    Orange County Mental Health Center was founded. The name was later changed to the Clara Martin Center in honor of one of its founders, who advocated for better care and rights and quality of life for those living with mental health challenges.

  • 1967
    Modern Supermarket

    The first supermarket opened in a commercial “strip mall” about a mile south of the downtown. Today, Shaw's Supermarket is the anchor store of the Justin Morgan Plaza.

  • 1969

    Peaceful demonstrators protested the Vietnam War on “Moratorium Day” on Main Street. The demonstration also brought out people who supported the war

  • The 1970's
    Shifting Economy

    Randolph’s economy shifted again. Wood-product manufacturing waned, but service and professional establishments grew. Formerly a shopping hub for the region, Randolph become an important cultural and service center for banking, insurance, and other professional services

  • 1970
    C.V.R.R. Closes

    Closing of Central Vermont Railroad organization

  • 1975
    Stagecoach Begins Operations

    Former AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, David Palmer creates the region’s first public transportation system, Stagecoach Transportation Services, Inc.

  • 1991 - 1992
    Rising From the Ashes

    Three fires in Downtown Randolph burned homes and businesses, including over 50,000 square feet of commercial space (Belmain’s/Ben Franklin, Thomas Store, Stockwell block, and Sowles block). The US Department of Housing and Urban Affairs appropriates $1 million for Randolph revitalization.

  • 1993
    Computers in Classrooms

    The last typewriters at Randolph Union High School are replaced by computers.

  • 1998
    Gazebo Park

    Gazebo Park at Main & Pleasant Streets is donated to the town.

  • 1999
    Veteran's Cemetery Dedicated

    The Vermont Veterans Cemetery is dedicated in Randolph Center. It has sweeping views of surrounding farmland and a beautiful chapel ornamented with stained glass created by local artist Phil Godenschwager.

  • 2000
    School Consolidation

    Randolph consolidates its elementary schools. The old downtown Village School closes and Randolph Elementary School opens. The East Randolph School is sold to the Clara Martin Center.

  • 2000 - 2002
    Downtown Senior Housing

    The former Red Lion Inn, vacant for 60 years, is rehabbed by the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation as downtown senior housing.

  • 2007
    A New Bright Light

    LEDdynamics, a Randolph company started by VTC engineering grads, revolutionizes lighting with its creation of the EverLED TR. It is the first LED tube light replacement bulb that allows existing fluorescent fixtures to be converted to LEDs by simply changing the bulb!

  • 2007
    Chandler Centennial

    In 2007, a capital campaign celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Chandler, led to the completion of a significant renovation and addition project. The project both restored and modernized the Chandler, adding new offices and additional performance space, and improving accessibility. This campaign was made possible through the generousity supporters both near and far.

  • 2011
    Irene Flooding

    Tropical Storm Irene inundated Randolph and the surrounding area with the biggest flood since 1927

  • 2013
    Into Space!

    Vermont Lunar Cube Satellite, created by VTC professor Carl Brandon and his students, is launched. This was the first satellite of any kind built by a university in New England. VTC’s CubeSat remained in orbit for over 2 years.

  • 2014
    Renewable Energy

    Vermont Technical College launches new bachelor’s degree in Renewable Energy.

  • 2015
    Playground Addition

    Twenty-eight volunteers built a $67,000 playground complex at the Randolph Recreation Field.

  • 2019
    A Focus on Economic Development

    Randolph hires its first Economic Development Director who helps launch multiple projects including childcare, digital economy, advanced manufacturing, and outdoors initiatives.

  • 2020
    The COVID-19 Pandemic

    Covid-19 pandemic has a tremendous effect on the town, as many business needed to close and the rest adapted to a new safety landscape.

  • 2023
    Randolph Police Re-established

    Randolph voters approve the establishment of a new Randolph Police force.

  • 2023
    The Randolph Vibe Website

    Randolph Vibe website is launched. Hello!