St. Johnsbury (population 7,571), county seat of Caledonia County, was first settled in the late 18th century. The Town is located at the confluence of the Passumpsic, Moose and Sleeper's Rivers and is the cultural and commercial center for the forested and mountainous corner of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom.
During the 19th century, St. Johnsbury became the junction of several railroad lines, and prospered as an industrial hub. The Fairbanks family, which invented the platform scale, were the preeminent local industrialists. Their philanthropy shaped the community in numerous ways, including the founding of a museum, library, and school.
The library donated by the Fairbanks family is the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum (1871), a National Historic Landmark. The library with its art gallery (1873) is a major visitor destination with a national reputation. In 2003-2004, St. Johnsbury undertook a complete restoration of the building costing almost $1.3 million dollars.
St. Johnsbury’s visitor center is part of the Connecticut River By-Way system and welcomed over 20,000 tourists in 2004. The community’s Main Street program, St. Johnsbury Works, has created a kiosk way-finding program for the visitor center based on St. Johnsbury’s history.
Downtown St. Johnsbury is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district and is also protected by a local design review ordinance. St. Johnsbury Works recently completed a façade study of buildings in the district, which will provide owners and the Town’s Design Review Committee with information on the current condition and historic appearance of each façade.
Designated a Preserve America Community in October 2005.