picnic table and parked cars outside the train station

Walking Through History – Waterbury Vermont’s Notable Historical Landmarks

Waterbury, a charming and walkable Vermont village, invites you to embark on a delightful Vermont walking tour. Immerse yourself in the rich history of our Waterbury Bed and Breakfast as we begin our journey through captivating historical landmarks.

beautiful bedroom layout at the old stagecoach inn
The Old Stagecoach Inn

18 North Main Street

Erected in 1826 in the Federalist style by Mr. Allen, with the craftsmanship of the Atkins brothers, Horace and Henry, this three-story building first served as the home of Waterbury’s first lawyer, Dan Carpenter. Soon after that, it was converted into a stagecoach inn and tavern. When the railroad came to town, many families arrived by train to vacation in the mountains and escape the heat and cramped conditions of the city, stopping in Waterbury for a day or two before continuing to resorts surrounding Stowe.

By 1890, the home was in the possession of the Henrys and was known fondly as “The Henry Farm.” The spirited Miss Annette Henry married industrialist Albert H. Spencer, who had made his fortune in rubber. During this period, “Nettie” oversaw the addition of numerous facade features, giving the structure its signature Queen Anne look that persists to this day. The couple traveled the world, visiting their various properties, until Albert died in 1907, after which Nettie returned to her Waterbury home. In the final years of her life, she made an indelible impression on local society, known for driving hard bargains, smoking cigarettes, wearing dark eye shadow, and urging her chauffeur to “step on it!” as they careened about town.

Over the next several decades, the property changed owners multiple times, serving as a combination of family residence and rental units until it finally became a rooming house, even housing patients from the nearby state mental hospital. The house fell into disrepair until 1985 when Kimberlee and James Marcotte, a couple from Boston with family ties to Waterbury, began refurbishing the now dilapidated structure. Over the next two years, the couple painstakingly renovated and restored, emphasizing period details in their construction and decor. After spending two years on the renovation, the Marcottes ran The Old Stagecoach Inn as a Victorian-themed country bed and breakfast for five years before selling it to Jack and John Barwick, a father and son team from Connecticut. The Barwicks spent the next 25 years establishing the inn as a beloved Waterbury landmark, known for its warm hospitality, fabulous breakfasts, and quirky resident pets. Jack continued to delight guests with tales and lively conversation until his passing in 2017. In 2022, after 29 years as an innkeeper, John Barwick sold The Old Stagecoach Inn to its current owner, Christa Bowdish, who is building on two centuries of hospitality tradition.

Today, as in the 1800s, The Old Stagecoach Inn is a focal point in Waterbury, welcoming visitors from all over the world as they come to explore and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer.

picnic table and parked cars outside the train station

The Waterbury Train Station

US Hwy 2 & Park Row

While it no longer sees the bustling activity of yesteryears, the Waterbury Train Station is an essential pit stop for history enthusiasts. With its intricate wooden craftsmanship, this vintage railroad station transports visitors back to when the railway was the lifeline of small-town America.

Initially built in 1850 and replaced with the current building in 1875 by the Central Vermont railroad, the building was the center of attention, so much so that the town relocated the center of activity from Waterbury Center to Waterbury Village. It was a bustling area with families coming from across New England to the Green Mountains of Vermont to vacation in big resorts. The last steam train blew its whistle in 1957, and the building fell into disrepair. In 2006, the building was restored to its former glory as an example of ornated Victorian Italianate by a group of Waterbury citizens.

Today, it houses a passenger waiting room, a coffee shop that sells local coffee and pastries, and a visitors center where you can learn more about the history and renovation of the building. Amtrack continues to bring passengers from New York, Washington, DC, and other cities to the south.

Vermont State Hospital

103 Main Street

Located off South Main Street and positioned at the top of a horseshoe driveway stands the original central structure of the Vermont State Asylum for the Insane, completed in 1891. On either side of the main entrance, two lengthy symmetrical wings stretch out, culminating in two 2 1/2-story cylindrical structures. After serving as the state’s primary mental health facility for 120 years, the hospital ceased operations in 2011. It once operated nearly independently and was a significant employer in the region. Following damage from Tropical Storm Irene, the oldest core structures were renovated and now house the Waterbury State Office Complex. Visitors can explore the premises to appreciate diverse institutional architectural designs.

street view of the business district

Historic business district

Today’s gentler Bank Hill starkly contrasts its early steepness, which required steps near its peak to help with the climb. To your right, commercial towers from the late 19th century stand, once home to banks, hat shops, groceries, apparel stores, pool halls, and public baths costing a mere 25 cents per tub. The structures to your left are more modern, replacing those lost to fires.

Until the 1950s, a tower-like “dummy policeman” signified a traffic stop at the Stowe and Main Street crossroads. At 3 Elm Street on your left, you can see the watermarks left behind from the 1927 flood and later 2011 Tropical Storm Irene.

Dr. Henry Janes House

28 North Main Street

This home features a brick façade built in 1890, showcasing the Queen Anne style. A smaller wooden section from the early 1800s is attached to its rear. This residence was home to two generations of the Janes family. The senior Henry Janes, one of the town’s early settlers, was a lawyer deeply involved in politics and local matters. He wed Fanny Butler, daughter of Governor Ezra Butler. Notably, in 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette visited during his last U.S. tour to honor Governor Butler. The couple’s son, also named Henry, pursued medicine, practicing in the town and serving in the Civil War. After the Battle of Gettysburg, at just 32, Dr. Janes headed the Union Army hospital services, tackling the immense task of tending to 20,000 injured from both sides. He resumed his local medical practice post-war and remained an active town figure.

When he passed in 1915, his home was designated as a potential public library location. A century later, in 2015, the primary section underwent restoration to accommodate the town’s municipal offices and historical society. The new structure at the back serves as the current public library.

Thatcher Brook Primary School

47 Stowe Street

Located at the junction of High Street stands Thatcher Book Primary School, a set of three interconnected brick edifices. These structures formerly accommodated Waterbury High School (up until 1966) and, later, Waterbury Elementary School (up to 1997). The central building, erected in 1898, is crafted from running bond brick and capped with a hip roof. Initially, it showcased two towers.

One can observe the main entrance of the center building, set back within a broad, semicircular arch crowned by a prominent fanlight. The adjacent section to the left, constructed in 1912, mirrors the design of the 1898 segment and is adorned with detailed brickwork at its roof edge.

The third part on the right, added in 1936, is slimmer but maintains stylistic consistency with its predecessors. This assembly epitomizes the architectural style of public school structures from the late 19th to the early 20th century. A comprehensive renovation was carried out in 2007.

Waterbury, Vermont, is more than just awe-inspiring natural beauty and the world-famous Ben & Jerry’s factory. It is a town deeply rooted in history, with every nook and cranny telling tales of the past. Book your stay now and wander through our streets and landmarks. You’ll appreciate its physical beauty and historical significance. So, the next time you find yourself visiting our Vermont bed and breakfast, take a moment to stroll through Waterbury and soak in its rich heritage, and stop by the Waterbury Historical Society History Center to view artifacts, photos, and documents about Waterbury’s storied past (open M-F 8:00-4:30).