June 25th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
The grass is finally beginning to fill in at Stonehurst, our new fine furniture showroom. The past few months have seen a flurry of activity while Bob Furlone and American Construction finished their last few projects. This week they will complete the installation of indoor and outdoor lighting and be nearly done with renovations.
But the rest of us will still have plenty of projects left, and one of them is exterior painting. So I have an opinion question for you. In the first photos of Stonehurst which were taken in 1869, the house looked much as it does in today’s photo above, except the entire building was painted white:
Sometime-probably in the 1940s the exterior was painted barn red, when Stonehurst was transformed by Elsie and Romey Racine into the Pine Top Ski Area.
My preference is to restore Stonehurst to its original white color, but I’m getting some push back from those who have grown really fond of the familiar red color.
So what do you think? Red? Or white? And remember I’m not talking about wine. Let me know in the comment section below or on our Facebook.
June 23rd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Douglas and I drove up to Marshfield, Vermont this week to attend the Vermont Working Lands Grant Awards Ceremony. As I mentioned in my last Working Lands post, Vermonters value their forests and farmlands so much they’ve made it a priority to invest in the sustainable development of them. For 2013, Vermont taxpayers (through the legislature) set aside almost $1 Million in grant monies to be awarded (by competitive bid) to organizations committed to supporting our value-added farm and forest industries. That’s extraordinary!
At Vermont Woods Studios we felt that our work in developing a destination shopping experience at Stonehurst to showcase Vermont furniture (all made from sustainably harvested wood) was a perfect fit for the grant criteria. We spent months working on a grant proposal to illustrate how our plans were aligned with the state’s needs. Our proposal was submitted in January along with almost 400 others.
After a challenging process of evaluating all the proposals, a Working Lands Enterprise Board selected about 40 applicants to award grants to. We are honored to be among this group! The whole idea behind the grant is to stimulate Vermont’s farm and forest economy, creating sustainable, green jobs. So the heat is on to help revitalize Vermont’s fine furniture industry through the Stonehurst showcase. And we are committed to giving taxpayers a great return on their investment.
June 13th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
John McCarthy (of McCarthy Signs in Hinsdale) came by the other day to install the sign he’s been handcrafting for Stonehurst, our new Vermont furniture store. What did you think? It’s a 3D wooden sign that John hand-carved. What I love best about it is the level of detail he achieved in carving out the thumbprints that are the tops of the trees in our logo (Cheri Bryant is our logo artist and creator, by the way). Pretty amazing precision, I say. It’s hard to show off John’s talent online but if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and have an up-close look. Or take Market Survey of America’s word– his company was just voted Greater Brattleboro’s Best Sign Company.
June 12th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Last year I started reading about Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative. Paul Costello, the Executive Director of Vermont’s Council on Rural Development had begun leading a movement to protect the Green Mountain State’s pastoral landscape from unplanned, unsightly, unsustainable development. I don’t know Paul personally but I see him as a modern day Paul Revere who leveraged the power of the Internet to spread the word about how we can use sustainable agriculture and forestry to build a thriving rural economy in Vermont.
In a very short time frame, Paul and his band of “working lands” believers have achieved unbelievable success, including getting Vermont’s legislature to allocate $1 Million in grant money for green businesses willing to pitch in and help. The idea was to provide incentives to “stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.”
It was just one of those lucky moments in life when I read about the Working Lands Grant last year as we were in the middle of planning our new Vermont-made furniture gallery at Stonehurst. We were a perfect match for the grant. Our furniture is all made in Vermont. It’s sustainable, eco-friendly and made from Vermont grown wood when practicable. We support all the links in the economic chain from the forest through the land-owner, forester, sawyer, lumber yard and craftsperson to the customer. The whole Stonehurst concept of raising awareness about where your furniture comes from and how it’s made fit the grant criteria like a glove.
Fast forward a year. The Working Lands Enterprise Boards have worked tirelessly all year, developing their concept, selling it to the public and the Legislature, securing funds, soliciting competitive proposals from businesses and evaluating those proposals. Last week it was time for them to make a decision on which businesses would win the awards.
Drum roll please. Ta Da!! Vermont Woods Studios was selected for a $100,000 grant award to be used to complete the construction and landscaping of our Stonehurst Vermont Made Furniture Showroom. This is a huge achievement for us and one that will allow much of the polishing of our venue to happen now, rather than over a period of years. We are enormously grateful to Paul Costello and all of the good people who have worked so hard to make the initiative possible. And of course to the taxpayers of Vermont who we feel a strong need to repay in terms of economic benefit and increased consumer demand in the furniture sector of our economy.
I’ll write more in the coming weeks about the Initiative and the other companies who also won awards. We are honored to be in such good company.
Do you love Vermont’s rural landscape as much as we do? Join the Working Lands Partnership, help keep Vermont green and be a part of it’s future!
June 10th, 2013 by Kelsey Eaton
The woods that surround Stonehurst make it a hotspot for local wildlife, and a favorite part of the new location for many of us. From wild turkeys roaming openly in the field, to our new porcupine friend, to the neighborhood chipmunks, squirrels, and birds that call this place their home—we are excited to be a part of this wonderful eco-community.
Now that we are getting settled, it’s great to see that many of us are forming a bond with different parts of Stonehurst. You can find Kendall walking around out back enjoying the mountain fresh air, Neville and Martin outside enjoying the scenery, while Dennis is always the first to volunteer to checkup on the families of birds who have occupied the birdhouses we put up earlier in the year. Needless to say, we all care about it here for one reason or another, and that’s what makes this place so special.
Stonehurst allows us to “tell the story of where your furniture comes from,” Peggy explains. “People can look out the windows and stroll around the grounds to see and experience what sustainable forestry is… we can use our learning wall to show people how their choice of furniture affects the habitats of endangered species.” For anyone who doesn’t know, Vermont Woods Studios was created with the inspiration to help put an end to the deforestation of the world’s rainforest’s. “Every species of big cat (lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc) and every species of primates (gorillas, chimps, orangutans, etc) is critically endangered due to habitat loss,” Peggy revealed, “and many of those habitats are forests that are being illegally decimated for timber that goes into imported furniture.”
Stonehurst, to us, is more than just our headquarters—it is a reflection of our impact on the natural landscape. We want to show people that by living consciously and shopping ethically, it is possible to live (and thrive) without harming the ecosystem, and that we can live harmoniously with our friends in nature, rather than endangering them by destroying their homes and habitats.
Besides the woods that surround Stonehurst, and the animals that inhabit them, the building itself has quite an interesting story. Stonehurst started out as a farmhouse circa 1800, and has “moved through various identities as a boarding house, 4 season resort, ski area, and residential home,” Peggy explains, “Stonehurst has been transformed several times, just as our business has transformed.” And despite all of the transformation, we’ve worked hard to preserve much of its history wherever possible. Plus, all local materials were used in its renovation, adding to its Vermont roots. “The resulting space feels like a natural home to us, said Peggy, “a place where we can enjoy our work while finding success in accomplishing our mission.”
When asked about their vision of the future for Vermont Woods Studios at Stonehurst, the team had differing answers with a common theme… We would all like to see Stonehurst busy as ever, with a thriving community of happy customers raving about their furniture and excited to be brand advocates for us and for our mission. We envision “people coming from near and far to get an up close look (and feel) at the best handcrafted furniture made in Vermont,” as Martin revealed, while Dennis would like to see people coming to Vermont not only to visit Stonehurst and see our furniture, but to experience all of the culture and activities that the state has to offer as well. Peggy is hoping to see a relaxed and efficient staff, excited to learn new things and making creative strides every day… plus lots more automation and continued rapid growth. Stonehurst will bring the team closer, and allow us to work more effectively and creatively together… and will also give us more opportunities to have fun! (Liz is really looking forward to future taco parties). Most importantly, however, Peggy explains that we “want to see evidence that we are raising awareness about where your furniture comes from.”
The move to Stonehurst has been a major transformation for us, and we are excited to see what the future has in store. With a handful of wonderful memories already created here– from happy hours in front of the wood stove in Ken’s shop, to physically helping with the planning and construction of the building, to watching a lone porcupine roam our field… we have high hopes and expectations for our future here. Our sign is finally up out front, signalling the end of the “making of” portion of our Stonehurst story–a chapter we are happy to leave behind. Now, its really time to get to work!
PS. We’ve created a Pinterest board for Stonehurst! Pin us
May 22nd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Today was a big milestone for us at Stonehurst, our (soon to be) fine furniture and art gallery in Vernon, Vermont. We received our Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from Brian Johnson, a Vermont Regional Fire Prevention Officer. The CO is a pre-requisite for moving into the new location as it formally documents compliance with all zoning and construction permits, like those related to the environment, life safety, health, fire prevention, ADA accessibility and water/waste water.
Ken and Dennis have been working non-stop for many months with Jeremy Coleman (of J Coleman Architects), Bob Furlone and Scott Strong (of American Construction) and many Vermont state representatives to ensure that everything at Stonehurst was done properly and according to code. This was the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears today and we are sending out a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved.
And how cool are Douglas, Sean, Liz, Loryn and Michelle for marking this occasion with a festive bottle of wine, a couple crystal goblets and a card with their picture and good wishes on it? Thanks, Guys!
May 4th, 2013 by Dennis Shanoff
It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the one year mark in bringing Stonehurst to it’s new life. The journey began last June when during our search for a unique and special place for our new HQ we found Stonehurst. (I am pretty certain it was love at first sight for Peggy) That was a summer of contracts and inspections plus a boat load of paperwork. But by fall we had keys in hand and so we began our search for the “just right” construction team. One that could transform our dream and visions into reality. Winter soon arrived and so did all the heavy equipment, tools, material and construction talent and work began. With Vermont winters being what they are the construction team was certainly counting the days till spring but they made great headway during a classic Vermont winter. We have now seen Stonehurst through 4 seasons, taken her apart and put her back together (well almost!) We know her so well now and our team is very anxious to make this our new home.
According to the construction timeline plan we should be ready to occupy Stonehurst on May 17th. The site is certainly active right now as the various and carefully coordinated tradesman do their thing to ensure we get in by that day. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, landscapers and a few other trades all working together and putting the finishing touches on it. Very busy indeed up there.
Then we have our work cut out for us in seamlessly moving our whole operation, fortunately and thankfully just a few miles down the road. Very fitting that Vermont Woods Studios remains in Vernon, it’s birth town. You will no doubt hear when we make the move and we will let everyone know when the new showroom is open for business. It shouldn’t be long. We hope you get the chance to visit and we hope you find Stonehurst to be a special and unique place too. We hope to see you there!
April 27th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Stonehurst construction is nearing completion. In a month or so we should be able to move out of our cramped quarters next to the Vernon Post Office into the 200 year old farmhouse we’ve been renovating for use as a showroom, art gallery and office space. Woohoo!
Unfortunately, before the move we have lots of work ahead in wrapping up renovation activities, cleaning up the construction zone, doing landscaping and making the place worthy of your visit. In light of that, Dennis and Douglas have joined forces in a concerted effort to persuade (coerce?) Ken and me to let go of the “construction debris” (or valuable building blocks for undefined future projects, according to Ken) and get Stonehurst ready for visitors asap.
So with that in mind, I offer these pieces of Stonehurst to you for recycling, upcycling, re-using or re-purposing. Come and get ‘em! If you or someone you know is interested, just give us a call (802-275-5174) and plan to meet us at Stonehurst (538 Huckle Hill Rd, Vernon, VT) after work at 5:30 almost any night for the next week or so.
What’s available? Slate roofing tiles, old timbers, new windows and doors, old bricks, cement blocks, some rebar, insulation, a couple pieces of furniture and cabinetry and a few other odds and ends. Stop by and check it out. Help us salvage what we can from Stonehurst’s former days and while you’re here, have a look into it’s future.
April 23rd, 2013 by Dennis Shanoff
Back in March I wrote a blog post about our Bluebird nesting box project. Since our new Stonehurst property had the right environment (open grassy fields) for nesting Bluebirds and we had some extra lumber the Green Team went into action. It was a tough winter so it took a bit this year for the snow to finally melt away so we could complete the final phase of our project. Plus that’s about the time Bluebirds return to these parts. But what we really needed was some thawed ground. These nest boxes need to go out in the open field which necessitated driving metal mounting posts a few feet deep into the ground. Bluebirds forage on open grassy ground and we were able to get 4 boxes in. (Bluebirds prefer some space between their nests)
For those of you who may not have heard, Stonehurst is going to be the home of our new Vermont made furniture showroom. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and painters have been very busy since January remodeling this old farmhouse. According to the latest project schedule we should be able to begin the move in sometime mid May. Everyone here sure is eager to move into our new home! But I suspect the Bluebirds should discover these recently installed nest boxes any day now and will probably be moved and settled in before we do!
In the meantime, I will go up to Stonehurst every few days to check the nest boxes and look for signs of move in. (Bluebirds use grass for a nesting material) While I am up there I will check on our construction team to see when our new nest will be ready. Stay tuned for future blogs to see what our nest box project yields.
April 4th, 2013 by Dennis Shanoff
It’s officially Spring, but you wouldn’t know that from the outside temperatures this week. But, it hasn’t slowed down our remodel crew a bit. Based on our most recent construction meeting, it looks like the last hammer swing will be around the third week of May. Of course we are anxious to move in and excited to welcome our customers to our new home.
So most of the recent activity has been on the interior and the different spaces are taking shape quite nicely. One area we really love and feel our customers will love too is the customer welcome area. This space was formally a kitchen, and it never really took advantage of the gorgeous view. We decided to put in as much glass as possible to best capture this view. We think this is a perfect space for our customers to soak in the scenery. Our photo below shows the transformation of this space.
Check back soon to see this room when it is finished and see how the rest of the spaces are coming along. Looking forward to opening our doors for you this Summer.
To get caught up on the Vermont Woods Studios showroom remodel, see the Stonehurst section of our blog.