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No. 59: The Harmon Inn

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Number 59: The Harmon Inn, Part of The Early History of Bennington.

Hello folks: This is Joe Hall and you are listing to “Bygone Bennington” on WBTN AM 1370.

The Bennington Souvenir was published in 1904 under the auspices of the Bennington YMCA. It was edited and compiled by Melvin H. Robinson. On page 11, there is reference made to General Stark, after camping over night near by, stopped at the Harmon Inn for breakfast. It was believed that the inn was built about 1773, in the very early days of Bennington, in the western part of town. Today, there is a historic marker on the corner of Vail and Airport Roads, indicating the site of the Harmon Inn. A picture of the inn is on page 12 of The Bennington Souvenir 1904.

The following information is from the Bennington Banner & Reformer, dated August 11, 1904, which is in the Day Papers at the Bennington Museum.

Through the years, in 1904, the old tavern changed little from the colonial days with the exception for the natural wear and tear by the elements and due to the lack of maintenance. In 1904, the structure was fast going to ruin. “The tavern was one of the pretentious buildings of the town in early times. The doors were handsome and substantial… for those days; moldings were in several rooms and the winding staircase was beyond the ordinary.” Once scavengers got to work and took relics and pieces of the building, it took only a few weeks and there wasn’t much left of Harmon Inn.

“In Jenning’s “Memorials of a Century,” page 65, Samuel Fay, who was five years old the day of the Battle of Bennington, is recorded as having told the late George W. Robinson, that several hotels in the Town of Bennington were in apparently successful operation at that time. Among the number mentioned is the Harmon Hotel, kept by Daniel Harmon…”

“The patronage of the hotels of those days was largely by people emigrating from Massachusetts and Connecticut to Vermont and New Hampshire. But the location of the old Harmon Hotel was off the main routes of travel and it could not compete successfully with its rivals more conveniently located. Finally, the patronage of the old tavern dwindled to almost nothing and it ceased to do business in 1794.

The Harmon Hotel, however, has the distinction of having had General John Stark, the hero of the old French and Indian Wars, as a guest. It is claimed he took breakfast there on the morning of the Bennington Battle, August 16th, 1777. But that could hardly have been the fact for the general had moved close to the battlefield on the day of the 14th, and it was probably at that time that he dined at the inn.”

Captain Daniel Harmon was the only proprietor of the old tavern. He was a sergeant in Captain Elijah Dewey’s company at the Battle of Bennington. He was a tall man with solid shoulders, dark eyes and jet black hair.

After closing the inn, Captain Harmon left Bennington, in about 1795, he moved to Vergennes and died there at age 54 in 1805. His wife, Lucretia then went to live with a son in Coventry and died there in 1829, at age 76.

You have been listening to BYEGONE BENNINGTON on WBTN AM 1370.

Thank you.
From Harmon Inn
Harmon Inn in 1904.

From Harmon Inn
Harmon Inn use to be on the corner of Airport and Vail Roads. A historic marker is presently on the site. F.D. Burt photo.
From Harmon Inn
Harmon Inn kept by Daniel Harmon from about 1773 to 1794. Photo by Sibley for E.T. Griswold post card.