Day Trips: Bennington, Vt.

For lovers of art, history and the great outdoors, a visit to our neighboring state — in particular

During a rare bout of melancholy when I was a much younger man, a friend offered this sage advice: “Go to Vermont. If that doesn’t improve your mood, nothing will.”

It was a great idea 30 years ago, and it still works today. For lovers of art, history and the great outdoors, a visit to our neighboring state — in particular nearby Bennington — offers a bounty that few regions in the Great Northeast can match.

Monumental attraction

History buffs who love to immerse themselves in the American Revolution have several ways to be entertained, beginning with a visit to the Bennington Monument, the tallest structure in Vermont.

The 306-foot obelisk was built in 1887 to commemorate the 1777 Battle of Bennington, which very well could have been called the Battle of Walloomsac, since most of it was fought inside the state of New York. But let’s not quibble. The British were on their way to Bennington that day, and it was Seth Warner and his fellow Vermonters who stopped them.

After soaking up a little history at the monument — as well as the wonderful view — the next stop is just a few hundred yards away at the Bennington Museum. Once there, you can get more history of the Revolutionary War, and gaze at a large and wonderful mural titled “Prisoners Taken at the Bennington Battle.” It was painted by Leroy Williams in 1938 as part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) program initiated by Franklin Roosevelt.

Grandma Moses

The museum also has a large collection of Grandma Moses paintings — how can you not like Grandma Moses? — as well as those of several other artists, and near the entrance there’s the statue of Abraham Lincoln by Clyde du Vernet Hunt that always draws one’s attention.

There’s probably too much to see in Bennington in one day. The Bennington Center for the Arts has its own large collection of paintings, and is also home to the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum and the Oldcastle Theatre Company.

Over in North Bennington, the Park-McCullough House is a must-see for anyone who loves beautiful 19th century homes or has a deep interest in any kind of Vermont history, and just a bit farther north in Shaftsbury is the Robert Frost Museum, home to one of America’s most beloved poets of the 20th century. And, don’t forget the Green Mountains and those wooden bridges.

A trip to Bennington is less than an hour from most places in the Capital Region, and on the way there you can stop and visit the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site in northern Rensselaer County. Sadly, the Barnett Homestead, a wonderful old house that served as the visitor center for the site, closed last year and there are no plans to reopen it.

Categories: Life and Arts

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