In 1830, Grafton’s population reached its peak of 1,482 citizens. By the mid-1800’s many of New England’s farmers moved westward and the region’s once strong wool industry had collapsed under the pressures of Australian competition. Like many towns around it, Grafton was no longer on the main thoroughfare. The inn, one sawmill and a store were all that remained of local commerce. Along with the general economic decline, many of the village’s fine buildings fell into disrepair.
In the 40's and 50's the automobile and other attractions nearly cast a death knell for Grafton. Lacking industry and commercial enterprises needed to retain its vitality, Grafton's population declined and the town was merely a memory to many.
In 1963, the Windham Foundation was founded and began the long process of restoring Grafton's hidden charm. Seeking to preserve the rural Vermont way of life, the projects not undertaken by the Foundation are, in some way, just as important as its building preservation efforts.
Today, Grafton's population is a strong 600. The residents of Grafton are a vibrant, close community.
In Grafton, you won’t find factory outlets, big souvenir stores or even a lot of paved roads. What you will find is a lovingly restored 19th Century village where people have never forgotten the tradition of hospitality. A town named one of the 10 Most Beautiful Places in America by USA Weekend and included in the new book "1,000 Places to See in the US and Canada Before You Die". Miles of woodland trails for walking, biking and skiing. A few local diversions like the Grafton Village Cheese Company and shops featuring fine antiques and the arts. And sheep. Plenty of sheep.
Would you like to see how real cheddar cheese is made and carefully stored for aging?
Better yet, have you ever seen a lamb being born? We can’t make any guarantees about that one, but it’s possible if your timing is right. We’re happy to show you Windham Foundation enterprises from the outside in, from sheep shearing to an historic blacksmith shop to formal gardens. Windham Foundation projects are not museum exhibits. If it’s exhibits you want, however... step right this way.
More information on the Grafton experience can be found on the Grafton Promotional Association's website at www.graftonvermont.org.