Danville, as we know it by its present shape, was chartered by the new state of Vermont in 1786. It has been called “Village in the Hills” for good reason as it is situated high in the hills, offering vistas of mountains and beautiful rolling fields. In the first decade of Danville’s development, it experienced rapid growth of industry along its brooks and rivers and was the most populous town in the area. It was designated as the shire town of Caledonia County and hosted the Vermont legislative session in 1805. By the 1840’s, however, Danville’s industrial edge in water power gave way to towns along rivers that offered better transportation of goods. Once the shire town was relocated to St. Johnsbury, Danville continued to possess a mixed economy of light industry, farming and trade, but population was lost to the lure of gold and the mysteries of the west.
With the increase of mechanization and the arrival of the railroad in 1871, farmers saw better profits, and the town experienced an influx of tourists escaping from summer heat in the cities. Inns abounded along with tea and boarding houses that offered tourists fresh cuisine and cool days and nights. The town survived the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, as well as two world wars. In the last part of the century, it was transformed into more of a suburban community, though it still retains some lovely and profitable farms.
In recent years, a new role for Danville has emerged. The environment, historical village settings, commercial businesses and community spirit is proving an asset to those who visit or wish to live here. Among the many reasons Danville is proud of its past are: the tradition of neighbor helping neighbor; the many citizens who gave service to the government; men and women who served in every war; a strong sense of cooperation among the various church denominations; and the resolve to provide the best education for its young people, K through 12.
Contributions made by; An Introduction to the History of Danville, Vermont 1786-1986 by Christopher Agnew. The Flyleaf of Village in the Hills 1786-1995 by Susannah Clifford. Sharon Lakey from the Danville Historical Society.