Stonehurst aka Pine Top
#TBT Some things haven’t changed since the 1940s at Stonehurst, aka Pine Top. Thanks to the stories of people who lived, worked and vacationed here, we’ve been able to preserve the property’s heritage.

I haven’t had the time I’d like to understand all the history of Stonehurst (aka Pine Top), but every now and then something pops up to add another piece to the puzzle. Recently Dennis has been chatting back and forth with Jeremy Davis, author of “Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont“. In researching his book, Jeremy connected with a number of people who grew up skiing at Pine Top. One of those people was Sandy Stoddard who offered these fond memories:

I am writing to add information on a wonderful old ski area, Pine Top, which was located in South Vernon, VT, about ten miles south of Brattleboro, close to the tri-state corner (MA, NH & VT). Your great website was brought to my attention by a cousin, Jack Stoddard, who lives in Connecticut. I currently live in Santa Rosa, CA, but I was raised in the Northeast and have very strong family and emotional ties to Pine Top (and its summer/winter lodging name, Stonehurst.)

The Stonehurst farm house was built in the 1700s, and it was purchased in the early 1940s by Oliver & Elsie Racine. Oliver (nicknamed Romey) was a business associate of my grandfather, Howard W. Stoddard, in Northern New Jersey. Romey and Elsie became tired of the Metropolitan New York area, and decided during WW II to move north to rural Vermont (Romey was originally French-Canadian and was born in Quebec, just across the border from Vermont). They were in their 40s, when they took possession of the old farmhouse, barn and about 100 acres of rolling countryside, which sat above the Connecticut River Valley.

Romey was a wonderfully ingenious handyman, who could do absolutely amazing things with his mind and hands. He renovated the house and the immediate surrounding property, with plans to open the place as a small inn. Elsie was the gracious hostess, who ran the house and the kitchen, with the help of several local gals (Marge Cotter and Barbara Moseley). They opened the lodging in the mid-40s, and among the first guests were my grandparents, Howard & Edna Stoddard, my parents, Don & Molly Stoddard, and my uncle and Aunt, Vinnie and Jane Stoddard.

Romey then began to clear the surrounding hills to create the future Pine Top’s ski slopes. He did much of the clearing of the trees and brush himself, with some local help, and with some summertime help from my dad and uncle. The first two slopes he created were Pelley Hill (beginner/intermediate) and Toby Slope (intermediate/advanced). Romey then designed and built two rope tows, using old Ford Model A engines as the power sources.

The area officially opened in the winter of 1946/47. Actually the first guests to the area came a year earlier, before the rope tows were in place. My grandparents, parents, older brother Donald-8 years old at the time and my aunt & uncle made their first winter visit to Stonehust, and I believe they were the first skiers to test the newly cleared slopes. A farmer up the road by the name of Marsden brought down a work horse to which he attached a “rope tow.” The horse towed a string of my relatives up the hill.

An aside: Romey also designed a fun way to get down the hill, attaching a seat to two parallel wooden skis. My grandfather scared the daylights out of my grandmother by schussing down Toby Slope in this uncontrollable device.

My first year as a visiting skier was in 1947, as a six year old. Every year after that through my senior year in high school, I spent my mid-winter school vacation (over Washington’s Birthday) at Pine Top. Those were wonderful years, as I and my brothers (younger brother Jim followed Don and me) learned to ski from local ski patrol/instructors Ed Dunklee and Bud Bigelow. Romey opened a new trail off the top of Toby Hill and named it “Stoddard Run”. My mother had a shortcut at the bottom of Toby named for her, “Molly’s Alley,” and I had a nearby ski bridge named for me, “Sandy’s Trestle.”

Romey and Elsie Racine were like second parents to me (they had no children of their own). I spent two summers in my high school years working on the property, doing chores and taking care of the dairy cattle that grazed on the ski slopes in the summer (from a local farm). They sold the property in the mid-1960s and moved to a newly built home down the hill (the new owners sadly closed the ski area). We outgrew Pine Top as our skiing improved, but it was a truly wonderful part of our family for many many years.

We’ve been in touch with the Stoddard family since receiving Sandy’s memories and are hoping they’ll come back for a visit some time this summer! If you have memories of Pine Top, give us a call, send us an email or join us on Facebook. We’d love to have you stop by when you’re in the area!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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After this long, harsh Vermont winter–the small joys of springtime, like gardening, are cherished. Nina has been outside all morning planting Cosmos for our butterfly garden. Cosmos are annuals that are known for their showy, colorful flowers. They are treasures to look at but we adore them for another reason, because they attract birds, bees, and butterflies. We are trying to create a natural landscape that is both beautiful and wildlife friendly, as our showroom sits on more than one hundred acres of woodland and meadow; Land that many species call home.

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Liz, our company green thumb, wanted in on some of the planting and came down to assist Nina. While most of the time Liz is on the phone or computer chatting with our customers, there are some days where we just have to make time to get out in the radiant Vermont sunshine. Today is one of those days. Fotor0610132621

While the garden is just getting started, there is still a lot of beauty to be seen at Stonehurst. We’d love to invite you to visit our charming country showroom where the forest serves as the backdrop to some of Vermont’s finest natural wood furniture.

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See you soon! :)

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

First Year at Stonehurst

One year ago this week, we moved from our little space at the post office to our beautiful headquarters and showroom, Stonehurst. We couldn’t be happier about our move and the ways in which it has inspired us as a company, as well as our customers, friends, and other visitors.  Stonehurst has allowed us to showcase Vermont made furniture in a picturesque Vermont atmosphere, where guests can enjoy the beauty of Vermont both inside and out. We’ve had guests travel to visit us from all over the Northeast and beyond, not only to see our furniture– but to get the opportunity to spend time in and explore this wonderful state. We couldn’t be any prouder of Stonehurst and all of the work that has gone into making this such a special place! So, happy one year anniversary to all of us at Stonehurst!

If you’d like to visit our showroom, feel free to contact us or just see our Stonehurst page for more information. Keep your eyes on our blog for more posts celebrating our first year at Stonehurst in the next week!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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One of my favorite things to do around Stonehurst is to find interesting spots & perspectives. When you allow yourself to slow down a bit and really take in your surroundings, it’s easy to find beautiful scenes in unexpected places. I liked this view of our little Polywood circle & firepit!

The Green Team is hard at work clearing space to make a sunflower garden and a butterfly garden behind our showroom. With all of this land, we want to make it as beautiful and as inhabitable as possible for our friends in the forest. 

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Here is Dennis being extra careful to make sure no critters are injured in the making of this garden!
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Nina, our photographer extraordinaire, jumped at the opportunity to get outside and rake the weeds… Any excuse to get outside in this beautiful Vermont weather, right? :)
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Landscaping…more fun than it looks!

To make Stonehurst more visitor friendly, we’re also making new paths for hiking & walking around the property. Our Stonehurst renovations will provide a more pleasing experience for our guests who want to see more than just the inside of the showroom.

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We’d love for you to stop by and visit us. The back of the building is a work in progress, but it’s still as beautiful as ever! See our exquisite Vermont handcrafted furniture and explore the lush woodlands right in our backyard.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Sustainable Furniture Store

People often ask me why on earth we located our new sustainable furniture store in the middle of Vermont’s woodlands.  The truth is that I don’t see Vermont Woods Studios as a furniture store.  Yes we have IMHO a beautiful showcase of the best quality handmade furniture Vermont has to offer.  But our business was built first and foremost, out of my passion for wildlife & forest conservation.  I wanted to show people where their furniture comes from.  And I wanted to appeal to them to buy furniture and flooring that come from forests that are re-planted and professionally managed for wildlife & sustainability.

We located Stonehurst in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest…

  • so customers could enjoy the 100 acre woodland we’re on and experience the beauty of the forest
  • so we could raise awareness about forest conservation and the fact that much of the wood furniture and flooring in America is made from imported rainforest timber that’s being mowed down at the mind-boggling rate of over 1 acre/second
  • so we could persuade people to buy American made furniture and flooring– a healthier, more sustainable choice for both people & planet
  • so we could inspire people to change the world

For the first 7 years our Vermont Woods Studios was an online furniture store.  Our staff worked out of a spare bedroom in my house.  When customers wanted to visit us we would invite them to Ken’s tiny workshop in the back of the house.  But as business grew and more people wanted to visit, we figured maybe it was safe to set up shop in a more suitable location.  From the very beginning we knew it had to be in the woods.

Next post: Learning to manage our 100 acre woodland for wildlife conservation.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.