The last time we updated you on the progress of our showroom remodel, we were still in a demolition phase. In our post Digging Up The Future, we shared that a large hole had been excavated to make space for the new addition’s foundation. When we purchased Stonehurst, there were two buildings: the main house and the detached accessory building. In order to create our planned “L” shape showroom, we needed to build an addition to bridge the existing buildings.
It’s been an unusual winter with the grounds going back and forth between mud and frozen. Through snow, rain, and heavy winds our construction team managed to join the old with the new. The addition has been framed and roofed. It fits perfect, and we expect it to look like it has always been a part of the building. Some other exciting progress is that some floor boards have been reclaimed to become the ceiling surface in one of the rooms of the showroom.
In the next few weeks we will see windows and doors going in, siding being put up, and roofing. Once the building is weather-tight, the construction team will begin the interior work. After six weeks, we’re all excited about the progress and seeing it take shape!
Continue to follow our blog for construction updates on the Vermont Woods Studios Showroom, Stonehurst.
Winter has come to Vermont! The air at Stonehurst is… well let’s say “crisp”. OK, it was -3F this morning. Ken and I were huddling in the workshop next to the wood stove and we spied these old Pine Top Ski Area signs in the rafters. All day skiing for $1.25? Count me in!
We decided to clean up these great artifacts and display them once renovations are complete and our new fine furniture showroom is open. By any chance, did you ever ski at Pine Top during it’s heyday (the 1940s-1960s)? If so I hope you’ll stop by our shop or connect with us on Facebook to share your memories of back in the day.
For example, how is it that the skier in this old Pine Top Ski Area sign isn’t bundled up in a Michelin Man suit? We didn’t have high tech outdoor clothing back then so did people just suck it up and freeze out there on the slopes? I was looking at old photos of Pine Top skiers yesterday and the people do indeed look just like the guy in the sign’s silhouette. No down parkas, no Gore Tex. Just your basic wool sweaters and coats.
I started skiing in the late 60s and I remember being pretty well bundled myself. Maybe in the decades preceding that people only skied on nice days? Or maybe they were tougher and more determined than we are? Got any answers or theories? Share them below or on Facebook. And if you’re wanting to stop by and do a little skiing yourself, let me know. There’s presently nowhere to park because construction vehicles are everywhere but hopefully renovations will be complete before the end of the season. I’ll keep you updated here on the blog.
This is something I’m not proud of: evicting tenants in the middle of the winter. Kicking them out of a nice cozy home into the snowy woods of Vermont. But the fact that they are red squirrels does help ease my guilt.
Ken started to notice them last month as he was working in Stonehurst, getting it ready for renovations. Scratch, scratch and pitter patter sounds kept coming out of the walls in the main part of the house. He wasn’t sure if it was mice, voles, squirrels or what, so he borrowed a couple HavaHart traps from Annette (Queen of humane animal trapping and relocation) and baited them with acorns and peanut butter.
Next day, Red Squirrel #1 showed up. Trapped. Ken brought the trap home and released the squirrel behind our home in the boys tree house. It doesn’t have heat or the comforts of their old home at Stonehurst, but we figured it was pretty decent digs for a squirrel.
Well, the scratching sounds continued, of course so Ken set the trap a few more times and reunited the whole family in the treehouse. Now Stonehurst is free of squirrel noises but bustling with the clamor of construction vehicles and excavators.
Does anyone know how red squirrels get along with gray squirrels though? I guess we’ll soon find out as our yard has been home to dozens of grays who have lived there for generations. Yes… this is what keeps life exciting in rural Vermont. Always a fun new challenge everyday! Join us on Facebook to see more about our adventures with wildlife at Stonehurst, our fine furniture gallery and nature center in Vernon, Vermont.
It seems like we’ve been talking and planning renovations at Stonehurst (our circa 1800 Vermont farmhouse and future fine furniture showroom) for a very long time. But now that Bob Furlone’s American Construction and Karey Tyler’s Excavation crews have arrived on site, things are beginning to move and shake (literally).
The past few weeks have been filled with activity. The middle section of the Stonehurst buildings (what we call the barn) has been unfinished for many years. In order to renovate, the guys had to dig underneath it and create a stable foundation where formerly there was just dirt and rocks. Then Carroll Concrete came in and poured a cement foundation.
In order to connect the middle section to the apartment building, we had to dig some more because the apartment floor was 2 feet higher that the barn floor. Since we want to make the property wheelchair accessible, we need to make all the floors the same height.
So progress is going well at Stonehurst, even though we’re up against winter’s elements. Today we had a snowstorm but still the crews from Tyler Excavation and American Construction were onsite and working in a tent they built for the occasion. Follow their work and the evolution of Stonehurst on our Facebook. Once it’s complete we hope you’ll join us for an open house!
Life as a sustainable fine furniture showroom and nature center isn’t the first makeover for Vernon, Vermont’s iconic Stonehurst property. In the early 1940s the circa 1800 Stonehurst farm was dubbed “Pine Top” and transformed into one of Vermont’s many small local ski areas (back in the day about 2/3 of Vermont’s towns had their own ski areas). A couple from New Jersey, Elsie and Romey Racine, had moved to Vermont to pursue their dream and Stonehurst was the recipient of their ambition and hard work.
Stonehurst, with both rolling hills and steep mountainous terrain became a skiing mecca for Vernon townspeople and visitors alike. Three rope tows were installed, powered originally by horse and later by car engines. “Tobey Slope” was for expert skiers, “Pelley Hill” served intermediates and “Tiny Tot” kept the little ones occupied. The whole family could enjoy skiing together, with kids as young as 3 becoming experts on the gentle slope closest to the farmhouse.
The Racines promoted Pine Top to visitors from New Jersey, New York, Boston and beyond. They also attracted the families of students at nearby boarding schools like Deerfield Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon. Visitors could board at Pine Top in winter, spring, summer or fall. It had room to accommodate up to 26 guests and was often rented out to large groups for family reunions.
The Vernon Historians created a DVD featuring Pine Top along with other Vernon landmarks. Copies and further information can be obtained at the Town Hall, Library or from Barbara Moseley, the town historian (and former staffer at Pine Top). There is also a book by Jeremy K Davis, Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont which provides Pine Top history and a companion website, New England Lost Ski Areas Project NELSAP.
If you ever skied at Pine Top, let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook. And stay tuned for an open house this summer, once renovations are complete. We’re hoping to get a Pine Top reunion going. Are you game?
The construction team has been at Stonehurst for just over a week, and despite sub-zero temperatures, they have made significant progress! The foundation site work has begun. A trench and a hole needed to be excavated before anything else could happen. The frozen ground was no match for our local excavating company, Tyler Excavating Inc, based in Vernon.
The hole needed to be excavated to make space for the new addition’s foundation. This new addition is the what will connect the two current structures, creating our L-shape showroom.
At the same time, a trench was created to bury the water lines to our new outdoor wood boiler. This will be our primary heating system for the building.
Next week the construction team will build the forms for the footings and foundation walls, and pour the concrete. The team is excited for the next week’s forecast of warmer weather.
Continue to follow our blog for construction updates on the Vermont Woods Studios Showroom, Stonehurst.
Happy 2013! We hope this year brings you all the best of good health, happiness and success. And we hope you’ll come share some of that with us in our new home at Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont. 2013 will be a year of renovations at this 200 year old Vermont farmhouse as we work with J Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction to transform the property into a fine furniture showroom and nature center.
Our goal this year is to provide the destination shopping experience our customers (from Boston, New York and beyond) have been longing for. Stonehurst will become a place where eco-conscious homeowners can experience all aspects of Vermont handcrafted furniture, including the natural forests where it originates.
Check our blog and Facebook now and then as 2013 unfolds a new life for this iconic Vermont property. We’re planning to complete construction by June, just in time for a mid-summer Grand Opening. In the meantime, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by with your toboggan this winter. We’ve got about a foot of snow now with more in the forecast. Either way, don’t let 2013 go by without a trip to Vermont!
Happy New Year
Last week we announced that all the necessary construction permits were approved, which gave us the green light to start the renovation! We have been eagerly waiting for the day we could finally get started.
The construction team arrived the day after Christmas, and dug right in. So, we’re going to count this as our Christmas present!
There are going to be a lot of major changes, so this starts with some demolition. The construction team is only five days in, but they have already made some major demolition progress. After our first significant snow fall of the season, you would think the last thing we would want to do is remove an exterior wall. But, this is exactly what we did on the accessory building that will soon be attached to the main house. The main house saw some drastic changes too. The old kitchen and bathroom have been gutted, making way for a customer welcome area and a new ADA bathroom.
But before we get too far into the structure remodel, we do have to dig some trenches for utility connections. This part isn’t as exciting, but it is necessary.
We will continue to update you on the progress of the Vermont Woods Studios showroom here on our blog. For those of you who are just learning about Stonehurst, you can catch up by clicking here. You can also some photos of Stonehurst before construction began on our Facebook.
Act 250, Water and Building Permits Good to Go
Woohoo! After 5 months of working through engineering and architectural plans for our sustainable Vermont furniture showplace, we have finally been approved by the state of Vermont to begin renovations at Stonehurst. YAY! It’s really not so easy renovating an historic property for commercial use in Vermont but we think it’s worth the trouble.
Vermont requires three permits for this kind of endeavor: a detailed environmental assessment called the Act 250 permit, a water and wastewater permit and a building permit. Together with supporting documentation, the three permits create a stack of paper about a foot high, requiring an army of expert consultants to complete them. And we’re not done. There are many caveats and contingencies that will have to be satisfied as we progress. Ken and I never imagined this extreme when we purchased the building. It was our architect, Jeremy Coleman who walked us through the maze of bureaucracy and red tape and patiently explained the codes and our compliance options.
Vermont’s Complex Building Regulations
At first we were in disbelief at the overwhelming extent of requirements and expense to comply with Vermont’s complex codes. There are several government agencies to deal with and get approval from. Sometimes they are at odds with each other. But as we finally get to a point where our plans have been approved and renovations can begin I guess we are beginning to see some method to the madness.
Stonehurst is Worth the Trouble
After all Vermont is a very special place for nature lovers and we want it to always stay that way. Detailed environmental and building regulations help to ensure that. Like many Vermont businesses, Vermont Woods Studios is built on a green mission. Ours is forest conservation and environmental preservation, so (in spite of the high cost of regulations) I can’t imagine finding a more suitable home for it than Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont.
Stay tuned for more updates on our sustainable furniture showroom over the next couple months and plan to visit us for an open house in the early summer. Till then keep updated by subscribing to this blog or visiting our Facebook.
See you at the Grand Opening (TBA)!
ADA Compliance: Lift vs Ramp
When expanding, small retail businesses in Vermont often consider historically significant spaces such as downtown buildings or old farmhouses. ADA compliance is a major factor in determining the feasibility of such a move. Entrepreneurs should seek the advice of an architect or other professional during the earliest stages of planning.
Because many small businesses in Vermont are starting to consider expansion these days, I thought I’d share some of our experience with ADA Compliance at Stonehurst, our future Fine Furniture Gallery. In working with Jeremy Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction we’ve explored several alternatives to accommodating customers with disabilities. At first I began to call Jeremy Coleman “Dr. No”. He nixed every idea I had on layout and flow, because they weren’t ADA compliant. The codes aren’t intuitively obvious for a newcomer, but eventually I caught on.
The main challenge we have is that our 200 year old farmhouse sits 2 feet lower than the adjacent horse barn. Our plan is to connect the two buildings and transform them into a furniture showroom. But how will a person in a wheelchair be able to go from one building to the next?
We thought about a ramp, but there’s not enough room (a ramp cannot have more than 1″ rise in height per foot of length so that’s 24′ of ramp). Then we considered a 2′ high elevator lift, but it took up too much floor space and added $30,000 to our cost. Finally our builder, Bob Furlone suggested lowering the floor in the horse barn. It’s going to involve some excavating but we all feel it’s the best way to go.
We’re excited that soon we’ll be better able to accommodate the customers who contact us looking for customized furniture designed for wheelchair access. We’ve modified our dining tables many times by increasing the table height so a wheelchair can fit under the apron. Now those customers can come see us in person and enjoy the view of Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest while shopping comfortably from their wheelchair.
Stonehurst is still in the planning stages, while we wait for our Act 250 and other permits to be approved by the state of Vermont. After that happens, we’ll have a ground breaking ceremony and start digging. Stay tuned for more progress reports or follow us on Facebook for updates.