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Visiting the Vermont State House, Montpelier, Vermont: Monumental Capitol Dominating A Tiny City

Updated on December 11, 2018
State flag of Vermont
State flag of Vermont | Source
The Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, is the state capitol of Vermont, United States and the seat of the Vermont General Assembly. Photographed by Justin A. Wilcox on October 18, 2014.
The Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, is the state capitol of Vermont, United States and the seat of the Vermont General Assembly. Photographed by Justin A. Wilcox on October 18, 2014. | Source
Dome of the Vermont State House
Dome of the Vermont State House | Source

Underlines the u- in unique

Each US State is of course unique. And especially those who call each State home will assert its uniqueness for myriad reasons.

That being said, Vermont is indeed special, and Montpelier, the state capital and the seat of its State House, is indeed unique, principally for its size but also because of the way its monumental legislature building dominates the tiny city.

The current Greek Revival State House, with its familiar golden dome, dates from 1858 and was occupied by the State authorities the following year..

Previous State Houses did not survive expansion plans or fire.

Montpelier became the capital of the State of Vermont in 1808. In 2010, the City of Montpelier still only had 7855 inhabitants. (Little short of amazing!)

One must bear in mind, of course, that the entire State of Vermont has a population of only a little over 600,000.

But, still, the relative lack of growth of Montpelier over more than two centuries since the first State House was located there, is nonetheless remarkable.

The crowning feature of Vermont's State House in tiny Montpelier is its dome, with a statue of Ethan Allen atop. Ethan Allan's Mountain Boys were responsible for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga from the British Colonial forces, giving impetus to Veront's claim to statehood (1).

The present State House was designed by Thomas Silloway (1828-1910)(2), who, however, did not always enjoy good relations with senior officials of the State of Vermont which commissioned him, and who indeed was terminated before his supervision of the project had been completed. The Greek Revival Vermont State House with its prominent portico, Classical pediment and golden dome is, however, widely regarded as Silloway's finest work; and in fact Silloway's substantial contribution was recognized some years following the State House's inauguration by the conferral of an honorary degree by the University of Vermont.

December 11, 2018


(1) While the Vermont Republic existed from the year 1777, Vermont achieved statehood within the Union in 1791. Previously at various periods in Colonial times both New Hampshire and subsequently New York had administered what is now Vermont; when New Hampshire formerly administered the territory, it was known as the New Hampshire Grants.

(2) Other works by Architect Silloway include hundreds of church buildings in the United States, including a number of civic buildings in several US states. Noted as a particularly religious man, he also functioned as a Unitarian Universalist minister. See also:

Historic plaque at Vermont State Capitol, Montepelier, Vermont.
Historic plaque at Vermont State Capitol, Montepelier, Vermont. | Source

Also worth seeing

Also in Montpelier, notable visitor attractions include the former studio of artist Thomas W. Wood; Christ Episcopal and Saint Augustine's Churches are significant examples of ecclesiastical architecture.

Stowe (distance: 22.7 miles / 36.5 kilometres) is a picturesque village which attracts many visitors especially during the skiing season, given its proximity to the slopes of Mount Mansfield, at 4395 feet / 1340 metres, Vermont's highest peak.

The Vermont Marble Museum, Proctor (distance: 71.8 miles / 115.5 kilometres)

The Frost Place, Franconia, New Hampshire (distance: 64.8 miles / 104.3 kilometres) is a museum and poetry centre based in the former home of poet Robert Frost (1874-1963).


How to get there:

Burlington International Airport (distance to Montpelier: 35 miles / 56 kilometres), where car rental is available from various companies, is served by a variety of airlines, including Porter, JetBlue, Delta and United, which fly to a number of North American connections. Montpelier lies close to the I-89. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Visitors to the United States are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map of Vermont towns with Montpelier highlighted
Map of Vermont towns with Montpelier highlighted | Source

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