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The Old Constitution House




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General Information

Description - Elijah West was accustomed to having his tavern, conveniently situated in the middle of Windsor, used as a meeting place where townsmen argued town politics. Windsor's location was important, too; it was right in the middle of the "New Hampshire Grants," and residents living in the Grants were more certain every day that they no longer wanted to be part of New Hampshire or New York! They wanted control of their own state. So Elijah wasn't surprised when on July 2, 1777, delegates from the length and breadth of the newly independent state of Vermont met at his tavern. They came to write a constitution!

The Old Constitution House has been restored and has an exhibit on the writing and meaning of Vermont's Constitution. Open May 27 through October 8, Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 p.m.

Attractions - Elijah West was accustomed to having his tavern, conveniently situated in the middle of Windsor, used as a meeting place where townsmen argued town politics. Windsor's location was important, too; it was right in the middle of the "New Hampshire Grants," and residents living in the Grants were more certain every day that they no longer wanted to be part of New Hampshire or New York! They wanted control of their own state.

So Elijah wasn't surprised when on July 2, 1777, delegates from the length and breadth of the newly independent state of Vermont met at his tavern. They came to write a constitution!

Delegates had almost finished their task when on July 8 dreadful news arrived from the war front. Burgoyne had captured Fort Ticonderoga and Mt. Independence. In an uproar, anxious to get home, they decided to disband, but tradition has it that a timely and violent thunderstorm intervened, delaying them long enough to vote and sign the constitution amid "a baptism of thunder, lightning and rain."

The delegates created an instrument that was unique at the time of its drafting. Using Benjamin Franklin's constitution for Pennsylvania as a model, they went further: Vermont's Constitution was the first in America to prohibit slavery, to establish universal voting rights for all males and to authorize a public school system.

Vermont became a Republic and remained so until 1791 when it was admitted to the Union as the fourteenth state, the first after the original thirteen.

Today, the delegates who voted on that stormy day of July 8, 1777 would easily recognize The Old Constitution House as hospitable Elijah West's tavern. Often called the "birthplace of Vermont," The Old Constitution House has been restored and has an exhibit on the writing and meaning of Vermont's Constitution.

Recreation - Open May 27 through October 8, Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 p.m.

Climate - Winter daytime temperatures average between 16 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit (between -9 and -8 Celsius). Summer daytime temperatures average between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 and 21 Celsius). Much of the state's precipitation is the result of snow, particularly throughout the mountains. The Heart of Vermont Travel Region has diverse precipitation totals ranging from 40 to 44 inches (102 and 112 centimeters) in the center area of the region decreasing to less than 36 inches (91 centimeters) along the state lines of New York and New Hampshire.

Location - The Old Constitution House is located in the heart of Windsor along US 5.


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More Information

Contact Information:
Agency of Commerce & Community Deve., Division for Historic Preservation, National Life Building, Drawer 20 , Montpelier, VT, 05620-0501, Phone: 802-828-3051

Additional Information:
Central Vermont - Central Vermont is characterized by beautiful rolling green mountains, crystal clear lakes and rushing streams. Historical sites, museums, ski resorts, challenging multi-use trails, golf courses and more may be found in this picturesque New England region.
Vermont State Parks and Forests - Vermont has over 50 state parks and over 2,200 campsites and shelters available for seasonal use. Most state parks permit cross-country skiing and several permit snowmobiling on designated routes. Vermont also offers over 35 state forests open for recreation use along with four rail trails and nearly a dozen historic sites.
Vermont's Historic Sites -

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