Named by its settlers after Issac Barre a well known both political and military champion the city of Barre Vermont got its start in the mid 1700s. Soon after the war of 1812 huge granite deposits were discovered at Millstone Hill and shortly afterwards Barre named itself, “The Granite Center of the World.” If you are wondering just how huge a granite deposit has to be to declare yourself the granite center of the world the estimates are that it is 4 miles long, 2 miles wide, and 10 miles deep. This is not just any granite the Barre Gray granite is desired worldwide because it has such an even texture, fine grain, and superior weather resistance. These qualities make the granite a top pick for sculpture artists. In 1936 the granite quarry in Bare carved out a 35 ton cross from one section of stone in the quarry. Barre went from being nothing to something overnight and immigrants from around the globe quickly came to Vermont. With $75 million in annual sales the granite sales in Barre today make it Vermont’s largest industry. With a community raised around granite it comes as no surprise that the citizens have developed some of the world’s most recognized artist in stone sculpting. Located within a granite manufacturing plant Barre offers the Vermont Granite Museum. The museum offers an exciting way to learn about geology and the history of the art of granite. With many large collections that will take your breath away the museum is a sure stop if you want to learn what this city is all about.
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If you enjoy the arts of sculpting you will also enjoy the fine arts of the Barre Opera House. In 1898 the Barre City hall had burned to the ground and built to replace it was the Opera house. Opening in 1899 offering 1,000 seats the opera house was an instant hit. Even if you have not heard of the Barre Opera House it’s stage has seen many people you are sure to have heard of including: Helen Keller, Eugene V. Debs, George M. Cohan, Emma Goldman, John Philip Sousa and Tom Mix. Included in this list of people are two presidential candidates who have made speeches from the outer balcony: William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. During the great depression the opera house could only afford to function as a movie house but when movie theaters in the town were built the once famous opera house was left vacant and stayed that way for 40 years. The building was re-opened in 1982 but was found in such a state of disrupt that it wasn’t until 1993 that is was actually up and functioning again. With $2 million in repair and still counting the Opera House has been given a new life and now is the bustling home of many activities. Annually the building sees around 20,000 people and is home to major artist and opera stars alike. Also a venue for many plays and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra the Opera House has even caught the attention of National Geographic. For beauty and instrumental genius you should be sure to check out the Opera House when you are in town.