Abenaki petroglyphs of the Retreat Meadow are hidden under the flooded waters of the West River. Rudyard Kipling lived in Dummerston, where he wrote The Jungle Book. And the first edition of Harry Potter released in the U.S. — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — was printed in Brattleboro.
These are just a few of the literary distinctions embedded in this locale, and The Words Project is on a quest to illuminate Brattleboro’s longstanding history and reputation as a significant creative hub in the literary world — a place where words are written, published, and appreciated.
The Project just finished a year of planning after it was awarded a three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, recognition that the town’s history of writing, printing and publishing has national significance.
It officially kicked off two years of research partnerships with public schools and community teams on Sept. 1.
Brattleboro Words Project Director Lissa Weinmann originally conceived of the project as a way to explore the history of 118 Elliot, the downtown community space that she and her husband John Loggia have run since purchasing and renovating a defunct laundromat on the site of the Lawrence Water-Cure, one of two hydropathic resorts that put Brattleboro on the map as a destination in the mid-19th century and attracted writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Weinmann began working with a volunteer leadership team and a consortium of local nonprofits to organize the project after realizing that the town had been missing an opportunity to leverage its major educational, intellectual, and historic assets.
Representatives from Marlboro College, Brooks Memorial Library, the Brattleboro Historical Society, the Brattleboro Literary Festival, Write Action, and others serve on a 14-member leadership team.