You may not have seen Barre, but you’ve definitely seen Barre Gray, the most highly prized grade of granite for government buildings and monuments. Local residents of Barre (pronounced “berry”) first discovered the predominance of stone in their hills shortly after the War of 1812; but the industry didn’t take off until Montpelier  wanted to build a new State House in 1836 and ordered up a load of granite from its sister city for the task.
The high quality of the stone’s texture led to orders by other cities down the Eastern Seaboard, and almost overnight, the town mushroomed into a city. Many of the workers who performed the arduous task of cutting the stone blocks out of the quarries were immigrants, first from Scotland, then, after the turn of the 20th century, from Italy. Barre still has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in Vermont .
While the granite trade is still a flourishing industry (mostly for cemetery headstones), Barre has gone through hard times in the 20th and 21st centuries as other industries dried up. The downtown now has a depressed feel that stands in contrast to the glory of the granite monuments that grace its parks and street corners.