by Kevin Hybels


Today Huntley Meadow is a popular site for recreation in Norwich, but it has had very different uses at different points in history. Instead of being the recreational area we know it as today, Huntley Meadow could instead have been the site of the Norwich High School. Before being donated to the town in the early 1970s, Huntley Meadow had been purchased by the Norwich School District in order to build a high school. However, as the Dresden Interstate School District had recently been created, Norwich students were attending Hanover High School instead.



The home that would eventually be known as the Huntley farmhouse was built at the corner of Main Street and Turnpike Road in 1777. After World War II, Josiah Huntley divided and sold the farmland of this home, which had been inherited by his wife Emma Slack Huntley from her father, Charles Slack. The land was divided between building new houses that were needed after the War, in the area that became Huntley Street, pictured below in 1959, and the Norwich Fur Farm.



On the north end of what is now Huntley Meadow, the Norwich Fur Farm was a seven-acre mink farm operating between 1947 and 1964. At the time there was a high demand for highly fashionable mink coats. The 1940 Vermont Census of Agriculture reports that in 1939 there were 21,715 mink pelts taken from 118 of the state’s 132 mink farms. Later, mink and other furs fell out of fashion and fur farms are rare today and banned in some countries.

Josiah and Emma Slack Huntley with their son James Huntley on the day James went into the service, April 13, 1942.

In 1964, the land that had been used for the mink farm was sold to the Norwich School District, along with twenty more acres bought from Josiah Huntley and his son James, to build a high school. However, as Norwich students were attending Hanover High School instead, the school district donated the twenty-seven acres to the town for the recreational area that we enjoy today.


To access this trail from downtown Norwich, turn on to Turnpike Road from Main Street. Huntley Meadow is located near the beginning of Turnpike Road on the left.