Northfield Historical Society


On August 10, 1781, Vermont Governor Thomas Chittenden granted a charter for 18,515 acres of land in central Vermont to be called Northfield. The town developed as more settlers moved in, coming down from the hill (now Exit 5 on the I-89 interstate) into the valley, starting with South Northfield, and then moving north into what became Center Northfield, with more expansion into what became known as Depot Village, and even farther north into what is now Northfield Falls.

Artifacts, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera and postcards in the collections of the Northfield Historical Society allow us to see what early Northfield was like.

Postcards, like those presented here, produced from the 1870s until recent times, are a useful way to document the history of Vermont towns. “Real photo” postcards especially provide the best scenes of the early twentieth century since many were taken by professional photographers, or at least by people who knew how to handle the oftentimes awkward and time-consuming “new” technology of early cameras. There appeared to be nothing that was not suited for a postcard, including fires, floods, family portraits, house portraits, bucolic scenes, school children, and humorous imaginings.

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Collection Tree

Northfield, Vt. Dog River showing Drive Bridge
A bucolic scene, showing a bridge over the Dog River, which connects the village downtown area to Water Street and other homes on the west side of town. Peaceful now, the Dog River wreaked havoc and destruction in both the November flood of 1927 and…

Depot Square, Northfield, Vt.
This color postcard provides a good bird's-eye-view of Northfields business district and Common, including the Civil War Monument. The train station (now a bank) can be seen behind the Common, and the bandstand to the left of the Common. And if you…

Civil War Memorial
This photo was taken later than 1885, but surprisingly it is the only postcard in our collection that features just the Civil War monument. The town voted in 1885 to appropriate $500 to build a monument to those Northfield men who fought in the Civil…