Here’s a fun set of before and after pictures of Stonehurst, taken at the “Warming Hut”. I guess this before snapshot must have been taken around 1950-1960 when Stonehurst was “Pine Top” a local ski area. At that time, before mega ski resorts came along, about 2/3 of the towns in Vermont had their own local ski area. Vernon’s Pine Top had 3 rope tows and prior to that a couple “horse tows” (isn’t that awesome– I’m trying to find a picture of that!).
Pine Top’s “tool shed” aka “warming hut” was located behind the Stonehurst house we currently occupy as Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. Inside the shed there was room for a few tables and a grill where our friend, Chris Howe cooked hamburgers for hungry skiers.
Chris visited us a couple weeks ago and reminisced a bit. She and I walked out to the stone foundation where the warming hut used to be. It’s now covered with beautiful green moss. That’s Chris sitting at the picnic table, looking over the hills that she and her family used to ski through to get home after work.
What fun! Customers coming to Stonehurst to shop for fine furniture in the winter should pack their cross country skis and maybe a bottle of Bailey’s or a hot toddy. Then we’ll give Chris a call and see if we can’t tap a few more of those memories of Pine Top’s heyday.
Like most Vermonters we were lucky to find Nemo pretty tolerable– for a winter storm, that is. Vernon got about a foot of fluffy white snow and our dedicated road crew was out pushing it around in no time. Finally it’s winter in Vermont!
When I was a kid, storms like this were routine throughout the winter. We grabbed our skis and happily headed towards the slopes. So today I thought it fitting to give the snowy slopes of Pine Top, aka Stonehurst a try. I found the old toboggan my parents gave my siblings and me for Christmas many years ago and pulled it up to the top of the hill (fortunately Ken had re-conditioned it when Kendall and Riley were little and it’s still in great shape).
I found a spectacular Vermont view on the knob where the old Pine Top warming shed used to be! Today was a beautiful day for sledding and the snow was dry and fast. I made a few trips up and down the slope before I started pining away for the ancient rope tow that used to be installed at Vernon’s former ski area. Or even the old horse tow that preceded that.
Then I saw that Ken had finished plowing and had found an alternative way to enjoy the view, so I wrapped up my sledding and joined him for a drink. After all the winter weather watches and warnings, it turns out Nemo wasn’t so bad after all.
If you’re in the area, stop by Pine Top, take a sleigh ride and enjoy the view before the snow melts! We’ll supply the drinks.
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.
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?
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!