Downtown Woodstock Streetscape: Woodstock, Vermont


Downtown Woodstock's four principal streets — Central, Elm, North Park, and South Park — bring together scenic mountain skylines, early 19th century New England architecture, the center of community life, and 250 years of history. Elm Street has some of the oldest properties and most stately homes in Woodstock including the Dana House, F.H. Gillingham & Sons general store, and First Congregational Church, all of which were built during the early 19th century. Lying between North and South Park streets is The Green, Woodstock's community front yard, the location of a weekly farmers market during summer and fall, and the site of several more of the town's most impressive houses.

Designated Area

North and South Park Streets, one block of Elm Street between Pleasant and Central streets; and two blocks of Central Street between Pleasant, North Park, and South Park streets.

Central Street serves as both a local downtown street and a major thoroughfare as part of U.S. Route 4. Photo Flickr user dougtone, Creative Commons licensing.

Planning Excellence

Also near The Green, at the intersection of North Park Street and Mountain Avenue, is Middle Covered Bridge over the Ottauquechee River.

In addition to contributing to Woodstock's historic character, North Park, South Park, and Central streets also carry the traffic of U.S. Route 4 — without the aid or benefit of any traffic lights, says Woodstock town planner Michael Brands, AICP.

Steps to protect Woodstock's historic and scenic character go back several decades. They began with Laurence Rockefeller, grandson of John D. Rockefeller, who in 1968 rebuilt the aging 1890s Woodstock Inn located on The Green. The town's 1980 design review regulations — written by two residents with help of a former New York City planning director — were the first in Vermont. In 1992, Woodstock adopted an ordinance establishing scenic ridgeline districts to ensure that vistas visible from downtown would not be compromised.

Against views of the heavily forested Mt. Tom to the north and Mt. Peg to the south, Woodstock's downtown streets attract residents and visitors alike, to watch a Memorial Day or Wassail Weekend parade, run an errand, or go shopping.

Festively decorated, these buildings, including several retail stores, are typical of the Federal, Greek Revival, and Georgian styles found in downtown Woodstock. Photo Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce

Defining Characteristics, Features

Planning, historic preservation

  • Woodstock Village was chartered in 1761; village historic district, including four downtown streets, added to National Register of Historic Places in 1973
  • Town of Woodstock adopted ordinance creating Scenic Ridgeline Districts in order to protect the aesthetic and scenic character of the town's primary ridgelines and hillsides; ordinance most recently updated in 2007
  • Central Street historically home to linseed oil mill, taverns, hotels, and residences; rebuilt after major fires in 1860 and 1867
  • Homes along Central, Elm, and The Green mostly Federal and Greek Revival styles; oldest buildings, all on Elm Street, include the Dana House (1807), First Congregational Church (1808), and three-story building (1810) occupied by the F.H. Gillingham General Store
  • 2006 Village Center Designation from State of Vermont created district for tax credits and other state-provided incentives for smart growth development along the four downtown streets and other areas of Woodstock historic district

Balancing highway and local traffic

  • U.S. Route 4 (Central Street) is a major central Vermont highway used by trucks, tour buses, cars
  • While Route 4 is state-regulated, Village of Woodstock controls portions through town; village able to close Central, North Park, and South Park streets to traffic for special events
  • Central Street redesigned and resurfaced in 2009; sidewalk crossing bump-outs installed and crossings repainted with bold white reflecting schemes to increase pedestrian safety
  • Free trolley during summer months powered by electricity generated from cow waste from local farms; trolley reduces traffic along Central Street and provides service to nearby national park, farm, museum

Parks, varied streetscape

Central Street bordered by two public spaces, Tribou Park to the east and the Woodstock Village Town Green to the west

  • Teagle's Landing, a pocket park on Central Street, provides quiet picnic space along Kedron Brook, steps away from shopping and restaurants
  • Streets define classic 19th century New England town center; easily walkable downtown with a village green and mix of three-story buildings used for retail on first floor, office space on second floor, housing on third floor
  • "Town Crier" blackboard along Central Street continuously updated to share local events, activities, news
  • Woodstock Business Alliance has helped fund light post hanging baskets and free public Wi-Fi (established 2010) along streets; power lines buried in historic district
  • Corridor Street Tree Master Plan (1994) for Route 4 lists every tree along Central Street; sets goals for maintenance and planting of new trees; village tree warden assures tree health

At the intersection of Central Street and Elm Street, a mix of retail stores, small businesses, and restaurants attract residents and tourists. Without traffic signal lights, the town manages traffic on Central Street, also part of U.S. Route 4, through various traffic calming measures. Photo Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce.