A Tale of Three Towns


Most of Vermont’s hostelries were adaptations of old houses and taverns. The new Taconic Hotel, shown dressed up for an upcoming wedding, began its life as the Orchid Hotel in 1907.

In the spring of each year, usually sometime after the May Pops concert, a tribe of nearly 300 migrating Vero Beachers, of which I am one, empties freezers, puts up hurricane shutters and packs up cars. A few ship their vehicles ahead via transports where Mercedes perch like acrobats. A few decide to save 800 miles and freight their cars in the Amtrak Auto Train while they ride in coach; and some, like Connie and Bob Ferguson, toss their dogs, Sadie and Emma, into the back seat of their Volvo wagon and head north to Vermont. 

Our destinations are Manchester Village and Dorset, each town about six square miles, both nestled in a valley between the Green Mountains in the east and the Taconic Range in the west, with Mt. Equinox, the highest of the Taconics at 3,800 feet, towering above Manchester Village like a shield. Side by side, the two towns predate the Revolutionary War and were established as part of the New Hampshire Grants when Vermont was a simple place of unpainted houses, furniture made for people who sat up straight, notch-eared pigs roaming over the village green, and a land subdivided by glaciers into small places within small places that taught colonists to deal with each other, a trait that abides today.

David Hamman and Bill McMillen, residents of Central Beach where they can walk to the ocean and the theater, compare Dorset to Vero Beach. “Each has a small-town atmosphere,” says David, “where people care about each other.” Ed and Fran Mellett, who have had a home in Vermont for 35 years, echo this sentiment. On the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County, Ed particularly likes the laidback, peaceful feel of his Dorset summer home. “It is what life was like in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” he says, “when you knew your neighbors.”


Read the entire article in the March 2016 issue

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