Built astride the falls of Otter Creek in the late 18th century, Middlebury is surrounded by the rolling farmland of Vermont's Champlain Valley. In 1800 Middlebury College was founded here, and it has been synonymous with the town ever since. Poet Robert Frost (1874–1963) owned a farm in nearby Ripton and cofounded the college's renowned Bread Loaf School of English in the hills above town. The college is also famous for its summer foreign language programs, which have been drawing linguists here for over a century. Middlebury's history of marble quarrying is evident in the college's architecture: many buildings are made with white marble and gray limestone.
Modern-day Middlebury is the seat of Addison County, whose role as Vermont's leading agricultural producer is reflected in the wealth of fresh produce at the local food coop and the profusion of orchards and farms in the surrounding countryside.