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Saint Albans Town


St. Albans Town Hall is located at 579 Lake Road, St. Albans, VT 05478; phone: 802-524-2415.

Town History [1]

At the end of the War between Great Britain and France [known as "the French and Indian War" (1754-1760)], the ownership of French North America, including claims to more than half of Vermont, was transferred to Great Britain. The land that would become Vermont was laid out for settlement by Benning Wentworth, Royal Governor of New Hampshire, and William Tryon, Royal Governor of New York. On August 17, 1763, the Town of St. Albans was granted a charter by Wentworth. St. Albans derived its name from St. Albans, England, a historic city twenty miles north of London. The first Town Meeting was held in 1788.

By 1791, there were 256 residents in St. Albans Town. The early settlers included many Revolutionary War veterans from southern Vermont and other New England states. Ten years later, there were over 901 residents in the Town, and the population continued to increase for at least one hundred years. Initially, farming was the principal activity. It began as subsistence farming, but it quickly developed as transportation methods improved.

St. Albans Bay was originally called Bellamaquam [Good Beaver], by the French and Native Americans. From the earliest days of settlement, it was the entry point for boats and vessels coming to the Town. Over time, St. Albans Bay developed into a prosperous community. Three piers were constructed at the Bay by 1835 and several sloops were built there in 1814 and 1815. The St. Albans Bay Post Office was established in 1870 in the brick house on Lake Road opposite the Town Hall.

In 1826, the St. Albans Steamboat Company, organized by local businessman, Lawrence Brainerd, was chartered by the State of Vermont to run between St. Albans and Plattsburgh. This firm has changed ownership several times but still operates several ferries between Vermont and New York.

In 1850, the first steam locomotive and train arrived in St. Albans on the newly constructed Vermont Central Railroad. In 1860, the Vermont Central Railroad general offices were moved to St. Albans Village. Over time, St. Albans became known as the "Railroad City of Vermont." With the advent of the railroad, the freight traffic on the Lake went into a gradual decline, dying out in the early 1900s. As the traffic on the Lake declined so did the commercial activities at St. Albans Bay. The ship owners shifted their emphasis from freight to passenger and excursion service, often times working in cooperation with the local railways that promoted tourism and brought customers from afar to the various lake ports where they could embark on luxurious side-wheel steamers for tours of the lake. At the tip of St. Albans Point [now known as Hathaway Point] a twenty-five room hotel was constructed. The hotel subsequently became the center of Kamp Kill Kare summer camp for boys and is now the site of Kamp Kill Kare State Park.

The St. Albans Street Railway running from Swanton through St. Albans City and then to Railway Dock at the Bay, was chartered in 1901. It was a flourishing enterprise for a while but went out of business in 1922 when automobiles became widely available.

According to the census of the 1800's the population grew from 901 in 1800 to slightly less than 8000 by 1890, with a large increase (3637-7014) occurring between 1860-1870.

Separation of the Town and City [2]

Not long after the beginning of the Town of St. Albans in 1763, businesses began to congregate in what is now the City of Saint Albans. This area became known as the Village. The Village became increasingly urban, with businesses and residents expecting and demanding more sophisticated services which many on the farms outside the Village felt were expensive and unnecessary. In 1855, there was an abortive attempt to create a fire district in the Village. Four years later in 1859, the Village of St. Albans incorporated. Discord among the Town and the Village followed. The Village assessed its own taxes, but it was paying the Town as well. More of the roads laid by the Town were located outside of the Village. The first annual report of the City points out that there was a "feeling the streets and waterworks were not handled honestly..."

The exact details of the events leading up to the decision to split may forever remain murky. The St. Albans Messenger contains surprisingly little on the decision, simply announcing the split. Interestingly, the Town's record book, with minutes of Town meetings, expenditures, elected officers and other Town business is missing for the crucial years.

In 1896 the St. Albans Board of Trade drafted the charter for the City of St. Albans. It passed the state legislature only a month later, and a month after that the Town voted to accept the act of the legislature forming the City of St. Albans.

  1. Town of St. Albans, Town Plan, August, 2012, www.stalbanstown.com, accessed January, 2013.
  2. ibid., Donna Howard
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