Seniors Travel Northeast To Historic Wilder

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Many of us seniors cherish the fact that we grew up in a small town.  I come from a town in Iowa called Monmouth (pop. today maybe 150).  My wife comes from New Hartford (pop. maybe 500). Wilder, Vermont fits into that category with a population of 777.  Wilder is an unincorporated village within the town of Hartford. It is the location of the Wilder Dam on the Connecticut River.

The village, originally known as Olcott Falls, is unique as an early planned community developed in part by Charles T. Wilder, owner of a local paper mill in the 1880s. Wilder is located on Hwy 5 just south of Hanover off of Interstate 91. The village is part of the “Eastern Vermont Gateway” region.

Seniors Attracted to Interesting History

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The Wilder Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. If you enjoy historic quarters like the Beckers, you too will be drawn to this district that covers over 40 acres and with over 200 examples of life in the late 19th century. These include examples of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style architecture and many homes dating back to this early era.

Wilder history dwells on the fact that in 1807 Miles Olcott, who already had a grist mill and sawmill at Olcott village, was granted the right to build a dam, canal and locks to assist boats in navigating the Connecticut River.

After the railroad came through the area in 1850, the canal was used less and less, and in 1880 the Wilder brothers of Boston acquired the water rights at the village of Olcott and built a large paper mill. One of the brothers, Charles T. Wilder, lived in the village and was particularly interested in its growth.

Wilder Mill, Bridge, Dam and Center

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When he died, his will stated that, if the village would change its name to Wilder, his estate would pay for a much-needed bridge over the Connecticut River. At an 1898 town meeting the vote was unanimously in favor of the change, and the bridge, and that same year the postal name was changed to Wilder. Mr. Wilder’s bridge stood until the 1950′s, when it was removed to make way for the Wilder Dam.

The Wilder Center is a mainstay of the village. The former Wilder Congregational Church underwent a full restoration in 2010 and has been transformed into the Charles T. Wilder Center, the Upper Valley’s premier event space for music events, weddings, classes, and private parties. It is a stunning combination of 19th century architecture and 21st century technology.

Seniors, it might be worth a stop in Wilder, especially when those Vermont leaves are in their glory.  The folks in Wilder will enjoy your company. jeb

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