The Old Constitution House

The Old Constitution House

Site: V09-11
Municipality: Windsor, VT
Location: North Main Street
Site Type: Museum
Vt Survey No: 1423-07.26, within Upper Main Street Historic District (State)
UTMs: (Zone 18) Lat: 43 deg 29' 03". Long: 72 deg 23' 10"

National Register Nomination Information:


The Old Constitution House is a Colonial style building built c. 1777. It is white clapboarded with a concrete foundation. It has 2 end interior chimneys and is two stories high with an ell. There is 1 porch in the front of the house and the entrance is in the center of the front.

The Old Constitution House was built as a tavern. Over the years there have been slight alterations to interior and exterior and both have been skillfully restored. It was acquired in 1914 by the 0ld Constitution House Association, and moved to its present site and restored. The building which was originally a tavern continued as such until about 1848. It was then turned into shops for retail merchandising and small manufacturing In 1870 it was moved back from the main street and converted into a tenement house. From about 1890 to 1914 it was used for the storage of merchandise. For many seasons the House was operated as a tea room during the summer months, then, later became a popular eating place. In June 1961 the property and furnishings here turned over to the State of Vermont. Several smaller rooms in the ell were eliminated to provide larger exhibit areas. The second floor of the ell was rebuilt. The building nor houses a small museum.


Often called the "Birthplace of Vermont" the Old Constitution House was a tavern in Windsor where an July 8, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants adopted the first Constitution of the "Free and Independent State of Vermont".

On June 4, 1777, a group of 72 delegates from "New Connecticut" met at Windsor to commence the framing of the Constitution for the proposed Independent Republic. While convened insession a letter was read from Dr. Thomas Young of Philadelphia, a close friend of Ethan Allen. Besides advising the delegates on the necessary steps to statehood the letter recommended that the Convention adopt the name "Vermont', replacing "New Connecticut".

On July 2, the delegates met again, this time in the tavern owned by Elijah West. Here was adopted Vermont's first Constitution. Vermont's Constitution became the first in the country to prohibit slavery and to establish universal manhood suffrage.

The first Legislature, chosen in March, 1778, met at Windsor the 12th of that month. By initiating a government under authority of the 1777 Constitution, Vermont became a Republic, independent not only of Great Britain but of all the Colonies of States in North America.

The Old Constitution House is operated by the Board of Historic Sites as an historic shrine and museum of early Vermontiana.


A Guide to Historic Sites in Vermont. Published by the Vermont Board of Historic Sites. 1959

FORM PREPARED BY: William B. Pinney, Director of Historic Sites, 7 Langdon Street, Montpelier VT. Tel: Not given. Date: December 17, 1969.

DATE ENTERED: March 11, 1971
(Source 127)