Vermont woodworkers: the 10th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture Festival is upon us. Hard to believe it’s been ten years since VWMA (the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association) first led the initiative to share Vermont’s exquisitely beautiful handmade wood furniture with the rest of the world. Kathleen Wanner and a number of other visionaries in the Vermont wood working community began work in 2003 on what is now one of the Top 10 Fall Events in New England. It’s the Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival and woodworkers throughout the Green Mountain State are encouraged to participate.
This year the Fine Furniture Festival is being held September 28-29 in Woodstock, Vermont at the Union Arena. Woodworkers can contact Erin Lorentz at VWMA to register for the show and/or the annual design competition (more about that later). Just to let fellow Vermont woodworkers know… the show really has an expansive reach. In addition to hundreds of craftsmanship fans from New England you may well meet customers from across America, Canada and beyond. We had a couple from California come to visit us at the festival a few years ago and we’ve run into shoppers from Alberta, UK and Germany as well. Vermont fine furniture has a good reputation and a far reach!
The woodworking festival is paired with the Forest Festival at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park on the same weekend and free shuttle buses run between the two locations. This gives visitors a chance to see and experience the sustainable forests of Vermont that supply the wood our furniture is made of. I can’t think of a better way for visitors to spend a sunny Autumn day, than taking in these two quintessential Vermont festivals. Be a part of it!
I made a visit to our local Vernon History Museum last weekend to learn more about Stonehurst, the 200 year old farmhouse property we recently purchased as the future home for our Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom. I was lucky enough to run into Peggy Frost, Nancy and Dale Gassett and a few other volunteers who were working in the museum’s gardens. Peggy knew just where the old photos of Stonehurst were stored so we went inside the museum and spent a few hours pouring through them.
The Original Stonehurst
The original Stonehurst farmhouse was built circa 1800 but I can only find photos going back to 1870 or so. Near as I can figure, the shot above would have been taken around the time that Stonehurst was sold by Noyes and Theresa Streeter to Lucretia Kendall for a sum of $2000.00. That was recorded on March 9, 1868.
Pine Top Ski Resort
Stonehurst had a very different life from the 1940s to the 1960s when it operated as a ski resort named Pine Top. You can see from the photo below that the house looked essentially the same through the ages. At some point it was painted red over the original white. And the horse barn-woodshed to the left of the house was converted to a dormitory for overnight skiers.
After talking with Barbara Moseley, our Vernon Town Historian, I learned that Pine Top was owned by Romey and Elsie Racine, a couple that moved to Vermont from New Jersey. “The Racines hosted vacationers and skiers in their welcoming lodge and operated a 3 run ski area with warming hut, equipment rentals and ski patrol. It was all staffed by local families.” Pine Top was set up to lodge up to 26 guests, often accommodating families of students from nearby boarding schools, Northfield Mount Hermon and Deerfield Academy.
Stonehurst Tomorrow: A Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom
Happily, Stonehurst looks pretty much the same today as it did 70 years ago when Pine Top was operating. The property was sold to Bill and Elaine Ellis after Pine Top closed and the Ellis’ transferred it to Vermont Woods Studios in August of this year. We’re now working with J Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction to transform the property into a Vermont Fine Furniture Showroom. The goal is to create a relaxing destination shopping experience for our customers who journey here from all around the Northeast and beyond.
Stonehurst, with it’s beautiful vistas and 100 acres of forested land provides a venue for us to convey our environmental mission and show people where sustainable, handmade furniture comes from. Stay tuned for progress reports and a grand opening for Stonehurst next Summer.