West Fairlee, Vermont 

A great place to live, work, and play!

Welcome to the Town of West Fairlee Website!

The town of West Fairlee was established on February 25, 1797, by legislative enactment, and was organized on March 31, 1797, with the following officers elected:  George Bixby, Reuben Dickinson, and Samuel Robinson, Selectmen;  Asa May, Town Clerk;  Calvin Morse, Constable.  It is interesting to note that for nearly the first 100 years only three men held the office of Town Clerk;  Asa May (1797-1800), Elisha Thayer (1800-1847), Alvah Bean (1847-1891).

West Fairlee had originally been a part of Fairlee for nearly 36 years, Fairlee having been chartered on September 9, 1761.  Many reasons have been given for the separation of the two towns.  Geography, with the line of high hills running north and south through the middle of the original Fairlee, and in those days transportation would certainly be reasons for the division.

The first settlement in what is now West Fairlee was made in 1778 by Elijah Blood in the area known as Blood Brook.  This was followed the next year by Nathaniel Niles in the Middle Brook area and by Captain Francis Churchill in the Wild Hill area of town.  Other prominent families in these early years were Bassett, Bixby, Bliss, Child, Dickinson, May, Morse, Robinson, Southworth, Thayer, and Wild.

West Fairlee remained a farming community until around 1854.  It was at this time that the Ely Copper Mine in the southeastern corner of the town of Vershire began operations.  This mine was only one and one-half miles due west of the village of West Fairlee and undoubtedly caused the largest growth and the most dramatic changes in the town during its entire history.  The population grew to well over one thousand and the village became very prosperous.  The village had a hotel, three general stores, a furniture store, jewelry store, two carriage shops, a blacksmith shop, saw mill, shingle mill, livery stable, millinery store, and an undertaking establishment.  At one time there were three doctors and one dentist in the village.

A list of some of the prominent families during this period were Bean, Bixby, Bliss, Child, Church, Coburn, Farnham, George, Godfrey, Johnson, Kimball, Miller, Morrison, Robinson,Sibley, Southworth, Tibbetts, Thomas, and Whitney.

The two established churches in West Fairlee have been in existence since the 1800's.  The West Fairlee Center Congregational Church was organized in 1809 by Rev. Joseph Fuller.  The first house of worship was built in 1811 and replaced by the present building in 1855.  The West Fairlee village church was built in 1855.  It is interesting to note that the cost of construction was $2,000 for each church.

West Fairlee has seen many changes to its school system.  In the late 1800's there were seven school districts and seven school buildings.  In the 1930's a central school was built in the village and an addition added to it in 1988.  During this period Thetford Academy in Thetford, VT was the high school for West Fairlee.

On October 13, 1998, the towns of Orford, NH, and the Vermont towns of Fairlee, West Fairlee, and Vershire voted into existence the Rivendell Interstate School District, for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.  Starting in the fall of 2000 the district began schooling.  Since its formation, a new elementary school, Westshire, was built in the village of West Fairlee and serves West Fairlee and Vershire K - 5 students.  Grades 6 -12 are served by an expanded middle and high school in Orford, NH.


Website updated by Cat Spalding, Website Administrator