The Capital Plaza's Ancestors - 100 State Street

Five Walks Through Montpelier VT: Tour #2 - The Shopping District

The Capital Plaza's Ancestors - 100 State Street

Montpelier, Vermont 05602, United States

Created By: Kiltumper Close Press


“Montpelier House”
Montpelier has some lovely inns and B&Bs, but the Capitol Plaza in its present and earlier design has been the only traditional, full-service hotel in the city for decades. The block it sits on has been the home of hotels for almost 200 years, and the way it’s changed over the years in some ways reflects how transportation itself evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries.
There was a sprawling wood-framed place called Montpelier House on this site in the 1820s, and photographs on view in City Hall show an open archway in the middle that was tall and wide enough to drive a stagecoach through it.

Which sounds romantic, right? Well it was a pretty miserable trip over bumpy, muddy roads, but it was the only way to get here until the railroad arrived in 1849. In the early 1880s two train depots stood at opposite ends of town. The tracks ran right behind the hotel, and when Montpelier later started a trolley car service, there were tracks running by the front door as well. The trolley line stretched from lower State Street to Main, then took a right and trundled along all the way to Barre, branching out to a few other neighborhoods along the way. The flood of 1927 that was so catastrophic to Montpelier wiped out the trolley, and it never really recovered, but by then Henry Ford was putting cars on the road by the million, so one way or another its fate was sealed.

A Hotel for the Motor Age

The Pavilion Hotel that we talked about in the first tour had flourished during the railroad days, but it floundered during the automobile age. While it was beginning a slow, long decline, over here on this block the new owners were seizing the moment. A no-frills rectangular brick building went up in 1932, the hotel was rechristened the Montpelier Tavern, and postcards from that time pointedly included a car parked right in front of the grand colonnaded entrance. As if that didn’t “drive” the point home, they changed the name again in the 1960s to the Tavern Motor Inn. They also opened a split-level lounge called the “Justin Morgan Room” after the famous Vermonter who established the Morgan horse breed. With its red leatherette furniture and horse-head décor, it was a real “Mad Men” style watering hole for the movers and shakers in town.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Five Walks Through Montpelier VT: Tour #2 - The Shopping District


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