Winooski, Vermont (population 6,387) originated as a trading city and later became a major hub for the wool processing and textile industry. Winooski got its name from the dialect of the Abenaki tribe and means “where the wild onion grows.”
After the Revolutionary War, Ira Allen built a dam across the Winooski River, with a sawmill at each end. The energy generated by the Winooski falls was used to power mills on both sides of the river. The successes of its mills led to Winooski becoming a city on March 7, 1922. While the mills have since closed, the city of Winooski still turns to them as symbols of its heritage.
The Winooski Mill Museum, which opened in 1998, is located in one of the old textile mills along the Winooski River. It features tools and photos donated by former mill workers. The Winooski Mill Museum offers school tours, an internship program, gallery talks, and teachers’ workshops. Student interns from local St. Michael’s College have developed riverside walking tours, school tours of the museum, and a guide to historic Winooski.
Winooski celebrates its heritage annually in August with Winooski Day. The celebration includes a community picnic and features information booths where residents can learn more about their heritage.
The Winooski Downtown Revitalization project is active in preserving the town’s heritage. Most notably, the project is restoring the historic street grid and adding a river walk, historical site markers, and directional and educational signs showcasing the historical features of Winooski and the Winooski River.
Winooski has also been collaborating with a photographer who has been photographing the town for the past 35 years from a single vantage point. The partnership intends to produce photographic documentation of the reconstruction of Winooski’s downtown. The end product will show the rise and fall and renewal of this historic Vermont mill town.
Designated a Preserve America Community in April 2006.