Attractions ~ Exploring Hawk Country ~ Ludlow, Vermont
Less than ten minutes down the road from Hawk stands this thriving converted mill town that today is best known as the home of Okemo Mountain. A village rich in history and bustling with travelers year-round, Ludlow is reminiscent of a Western ski town - still small and featuring many of its original historic buildings, yet dominated by the omnipresent ski trails that loom on the mountainside above. Although Calvin Coolidge was born and lived the majority of his life near Hawk in the neighboring town of Plymouth, he traveled each day to and from Ludlow where he attended high school at the Black River Academy. Chances are that while staying at Hawk you too will make the short hop into Ludlow. Therefore, we have compiled some information for you to take full advantage of this intriguing central Vermont village.
Noteworthy Attractions in and Around Ludlow
Okemo Mountain, Ludlow
With its 2150-foot vertical drop, 106 trails and a modern, efficient lift system, Okemo provides wonderful downhill skiing and snowboarding on varied terrain with a near-perfect mountain configuration. The resort also has award-winning children's skiing programs that are particularly popular with Hawk residents and guests. A spectacular new, 18-hole golf course also opened here in 1999. (802) 228-4041
Green Mountain Sugar House, Ludlow
One of the largest sugar houses in the State, look for the signature red roof on Lake Pauline half-way between Hawk and the center of Ludlow. Operated by the same native Vermont family for over fifty years, this working factory offers visitors the opportunity to watch the process of sap from sugar maples being turned into pure maple syrup in March and April. (802) 228-7151
Fletcher Farm School for the Art and Crafts, Ludlow
Every summer since 1947, Vermont's oldest adult residential craft school campus bustles with activity in over 100 different course offerings. Under the guidance and encouragement of accomplished instructors, students immerse themselves in the learning of a new craft, or in the refinement of skills they brought with them. Featured on CBS This Morning. (802) 228-8770
The Black River Academy Museum, Ludlow
Established in 1835, the Black River Academy is the alma mater of 1890 graduate President Calvin Coolidge. In 1888, the intriguing, brick, Richardsonian-style building that continues to hover above the town was built. The Academy only served as Ludlow's high school until 1938. Today, it serves the equally important role of preserving the academic history of the Black River Valley, as well as the heritage and traditions of the people that reside here, past and present. On exhibit are replicas of Main Street Ludlow, a re-created 1890s schoolroom, and turn-of-the-century furniture, clothing, quilts, china and paintings in Victorian room settings. Craft classes are given every weekend throughout foliage season, and the opportunity still exists for visitors to ring the original school bell. (802) 228-5050
Mountain Orchids, Ludlow
Nestled amidst the Green Mountains of Vermont, Mountain Orchids is a small nursery devoted to the propagation and dissemination of the less common and rarely available species and hybrids. While they primarily offer Intermediate and Cool growing plants of compact to miniature statures (most of which are propagated in their own lab), they also maintain a selection of more commonly sought after plants for those with less specialized growing environments. The Greenhouse is open by appointment only, though they make every attempt to accommodate visitors whenever sufficient notice is provided.
Crowley Cheese Factory, Healdville
You may have seen this local business' world-renowned products for sale at Dean & Deluca. Established and operating since 1882, Crowley is the oldest continuously operated cheese factory in the Western Hemisphere. Watch the entire "hand-powered" production process, performed every day exactly the same since the business began. (802) 259-2340
The Mount Holly Country Store, Mt. Holly
A wide variety of Vermont products in a family-run country store atmosphere. Specializes in samplers for products such as Crowley Cheese, Northeast Kingdom Mustards, Green Mountain Jellies and Lisa Kent hand-painted pottery. (802) 259-3219
Sawyerhill Perennials, Mt. Holly
A collection of display gardens featuring over 500 varieties of perennials, biennials, herbs, roses, irises and flowering shrubs. The exhibit also has a craft shop featuring hand-painted furniture and folk art. Open May through November. (802) 259-2254
A Brief History
As with most small New England towns, Ludlow has the feel of history - many historic structures remain, their original purpose and ownership having changed many times over the years.
Ludlow's history began with its charter dated September 16, 1761. The charter was granted by Benning Wentworth, Colonial governor of New Hampshire, as part of the New Hampshire grants. Seventy-six lots were surveyed from the east side of the town. Of the original grantees, only one, Seth Lee, claimed his lot, and settled at what is now Pond Street.
Settlement of the town did not begin until 1783-84, when brothers Josiah and Jesse Fletcher, Simeon Read and James Whitney, immigrants from Massachusetts, moved into the town, and began clearing land bordering the Black River, east of the present village. But, James Whitney, feeling more secure on high ground, settled on North Hill. The early settlers acquired their land either by paying taxes, which the original land grant recipients had left unpaid, or by settling on the land for 23 years to gain possession.
Other families settled in the Grahamsville area, and so arose a difference of opinion about where the town center should be located, either at Grahamsville, or east of the village at Smithville. Gradually though, the center of business grew-up around what is now the village green, beginning with a store, built in 1797, at the corner of Main and Commonwealth Streets where a great stone house stands today. The area where the village is currently located was at first considered unsuitable for settlement being low and swampy, often flooded by the river. The first house on the south side of the river was not built until 1825 and stood at what is now the northwest corner of Depot and Main Streets.
In 1792, the town was fully organized and the first annual town meeting was held on the last day in March of that year. Ludlow's economic history parallels that of many small New England towns. The first settlers were farmers who, as most farm families of the time, were self-sufficient by necessity. Felling their own timber to build their houses, growing and preserving their own food, spinning, weaving and sewing wool from their own sheep for clothing, they needed very little from the outside world.
As the country began to industrialize in the 19th century, so did the Ludlow area. Several woolen mills were built along the Black River. The longest lasting of them is a prominent landmark in the center of the village, and serves an entirely different use today. The railroad came to Ludlow in the 1840s, greatly aiding both travel and industry. Now, only hints of Ludlow's industrial past are evident, and the forest has reclaimed much of the land cleared by lumbering operations and the original farmers.
The Ludlow of today is a favorite destination of skiers who flock to Okemo Mountain, one of New England's premier ski resorts. During the winter season, the population increases to more than 10,000 people... and growing. However, Ludlow's full-time population remains closer to around 2,500.
Hawk's Guide to Vermont Shopping and check-out some of the wonderful stores in Ludlow and the surrounding towns.
Plymouth / Calvin Coolidge Homestead (Our hometown...)
The Killington Region (10 minutes)
Woodstock (20 minutes)
Weston (25 minutes)
Rutland (30 minutes)
Quechee (35 minutes)
Manchester (45 minutes)
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