2018-03-29 / Front Page

t’s the Paine Mountain School District

Peter Evans

In 1784, Elijah Paine moved from his family home in Connecticut to property in Williamstown, near the Northfield town line. Quickly identified as someone capable of getting a job done, both Northfield and Williamstown proprietors granted Paine an extra 400 acres of land on the condition that he build one good sawmill within eighteen months and one good gristmill within a year in each of the towns. Success at completing this challenge along with his outstanding executive and business ability soon made him a leader of both Northfield and Williamstown. He was a personal friend of George Washington and became the patriarch of Williamstown and Northfield and considered not only their greatest early benefactor, but their founder.  For these and other reasons, it likely was not a hard decision to name the 2,411’ mountain in Northfield, Paine Mountain, after Elijah and his son, Charles. 
The critical role that Elijah Paine played in the history of both Williamstown and Northfield and the fact that Paine Mountain is the high point of land on the ridge between the valley towns of Williamstown and Northfield were most likely the reasons it was the favored choice of residents of both communities for the name of our new merged school district. At their regular meeting on March 21st, the school board voted unanimously that “Paine Mountain School District” serve as the permanent name for the union of the Northfield and Williamstown schools.  
Many thanks to all who offered suggestions, ideas, took time to complete surveys and vote. I have to believe that Elijah Paine would be happy with our new name and with our two towns working together on behalf of the children that live on both sides of the mountain that bears his family’s name. 
In other news, the board is looking for a resident of Northfield to fill the seat left open with the resignation of Sophia Bennet. Sophia recently left her position at Norwich University to assume a new role in another college out of state. She has been a valued board member for several years and will be greatly missed. Northfield residents interested in being named to fill the remaining three years of Sophia’s seat should send a letter of interest to Susette Bollard, Superintendent of Schools, 111 B Brush Hill Road, Williamstown, VT 05679.  
Note: Elijah Paine history thanks to Green Mountain Heritage; the Chronicle of Northfield, Vermont, Northfield Town History Committee (Julia McIntire, author), 1974

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