vermontlife.com 52 • vermont life
dier at Arlington National Cemetery is crafted of
marble quarried near Rutland.
But the glory years were short-lived. By the time
of the Great Depression, marble production was less
than half of what it had been at its peak — granite was
the new darling — and after World War II, rail was
no longer a guarantee of prosperity, eclipsed by the interstate highway system. In the case of Rutland, the
interstate highway skewed east, to the Connecticut
River Valley, and north toward Burlington. Rutland
City’s population declined by nearly 15 percent from
1970 to 2010. Only three of Vermont’s 14 counties lost
population between the censuses of 2000 and 2010;
Rutland County was among them.
The city’s downtown commercial base suffered.
Crime increased. More recently, Rutland gained na-
tional headlines for the wrong reasons: Even the
smallest cities in the most rural states could be hit by
the scourge of opiate addiction, and the social ills that
came with it.
The robust heartbeat of Vermont’s muscular city
flickered, but it never flatlined. In 2000, the Paramount Theatre reopened after sitting dark for nearly
20 years. With $3.65 million in federal, state and
city aid, as well as hundreds of donations from area
residents, the 850-seat performing arts center was restored to its vaudeville-era splendor.
In 2007, the Vermont Council on Rural Development led a strategic planning effort to help marshal the artistic and inventive veins that run thick as
marble through the region. More than 400 citizens
packed meetings, hungry for opportunities to work
together to build a new identity for Rutland based not
on muscle but on mind. A new spirit of collaboration
began to gel among business people, civic leaders and
Police and health initiatives pushed back against
the drug trade. The city hosted Friday night block
parties, farmers markets and fairs. Green Mountain
Power announced its intention to make Rutland the
“Energy City of the Future” and in 2013 opened the
Energy Innovation Center in a long-vacant building on
Merchants Row. GMP Vice President Steve Costello
recruited alternative-energy companies SunCom-mon, NRG Energy and groSolar, as well as Small Dog
Electronics, an Apple specialist, to the downtown,
and a kids’ museum, brewpub and truffle company all
LEFT TO RIGHT Fresh energy downtown
includes Pure.Original, where owner
Heather Turnbull sells handcrafted
artwork, rustic housewares and vintage
finds; women’s wear at Fruition Fineries;
and the Hop’n Moose Brewing Company.