The Village of Grafton
In the nineteenth century, Grafton was on the major road between Boston and Montreal. It was a thriving center for raising sheep that fed wool to the region’s many mills. With nearby quarries, the region was also a major producer of soapstone. Over time the domestic wool and mill industry declined, as did soapstone production, as new manufactured products entered the marketplace. In addition, once the interstate highway was built miles away, Grafton was no longer at a major stop in a journey north.
These economic disruptions, although specific to the Grafton area, were mirrored throughout rural America, leading to declines in opportunity, income, and population. Grafton and similar rural areas face many challenges as they seek to preserve small-town life.
The Windham Foundation works to support many enterprises in Grafton in its efforts to maintain a viable rural economy. Grafton Village Cheese and the Grafton Inn, run by the Foundation, play a key role in the economic and social vitality of the area and the state.
Beyond these companies a number of independent businesses operate in buildings, or on land, owned by the Windham Foundation. For more information about the village, visit the Grafton Website.
The Windham Foundation is not connected to Grafton town government, yet over the years it has funded a variety of local improvements, including a hydrant system, underground power lines, landscaping, shade tree plantings, and several highway projects. The Foundation aided the town in building a new elementary school through donations of land and financial assistance and continues to support the local school in a a number of ways.
The Foundation also administers the Grafton Fund that provides grants to nonprofit and municipal organizations in Grafton.
Beyond this, through its stewardship and conservation efforts, the Foundation helps preserve the beauty of the village and its forested and open landscapes. These are among the many reasons Grafton is featured in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.