Lyndonville preserves the clearly readable forms of Vermont's first and only village planned by and for a railroad. In 1866, after fire destroyed its St. Johnsbury facilities, the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad decided to move its operation northward to level, open farmland in Lyndon, where they built a complex of brick shops with shaped gables, one of which survives off the east end of Grove Street. To accommodate its employees, the company instructed its architects to grid a village of three hundred and thirty-four acres with streets parallel and at right angles to the rail yards, and to combine efficiency with attractive and healthful conditions. They planted the streets with trees and made provisions for gardens near the depot (demolished) at Broad and Depot streets, a park at Main and Depot streets, and a large recreational grove for gatherings and religious revivals along the Passumpsic River at the west end of Grove Street. The plan reflected the social order of the village. Uniform rental housing for shop workers was built east of the yards along East and Raymond streets, separate from the main village grid. More substantial housing was on Main Street, where a company provision on deeds required that all buildings must be two stories in height and set back at least twenty feet from the road, which created a unified line of Italianate gable fronts. Company officers set a pattern for grand construction around the park with a row of three houses built on its north side (CA9). Commerce was focused on Depot Street.
Company paternalism largely ended when the railroad changed hands in 1887. By then, a local community of prosperous businesspeople and wealthy rural town residents had taken over. Between 1893 and 1897 the Village Improvement Society landscaped the park, and in 1897 Lambert Packard designed a striking set of shingled Queen Anne houses along its western edge. Packard was also responsible for a bank (demolished) and a pair of shingled mansions (1890s) at the corner of Park and Center streets. By the end of the decade, as the wealth of new patrons came from farther afield, so too did their architects. Boston architect Henry Vaughan designed the little brick Gothic Revival Episcopal church of St. Peter's Mission (1898) on Elm Street, producing one of this high church master's simplest buildings. In 1924, a syndicate headed by Elmer A. Darling rebuilt the town's hotel on the site of the Depot Hotel that had been destroyed by fire. The Hanover, New Hampshire, firm of Wells and Hudson designed the impressive Federal Revival building. Fires and changing tastes left their mark on many village buildings, particularly in the Depot Street area, but the patterns of Lyndonville's ordered development remain clearly evident.
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