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.
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)!
Hurricane Sandy: What Vermont Can Do to Help
Just over a year ago, Hurricane Irene tore through Vermont leaving much of the state flooded, damaged and powerless. Many Vermonters lost their homes, their belongings or their loved ones because of the storm. Luckily, our neighboring states pitched in and offered disaster recovery assistance on the ground, collected supplies and supported us with monetary donations. While damages from Irene can still be seen across the state, we’re much stronger thanks to the help we received from our fellow New Englanders and Northeastern states.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Vermont was luckily spared minus a few thousand power outages, which is nothing compared to the devastation found in other Northeastern states. With over 8 million without power, as much as $50 billion in damages, over 3 feet of snow, and a death toll of 80 and rising, Superstorm Sandy is the costliest Hurricane to hit the Northeastern states in history. Many coastal communities are still underwater and much of the area is in the dark.
As Vermonters, it’s time to pay it forward and help out those who helped us during dark times. Vermont Woods Studios is shocked by the photos and stories that are popping up all over the news and we’ve been scouring the web looking for opportunities to lend a hand. It’s still very early to assess what kind of assistance is needed, but here’s a list of helpful links that have some great information on what you can do.
- VT Flood Response – Part of the Vermont Community Foundation, this website started back when Irene hit to help Vermonters find necessary resources. The site is again working to help those affected by disaster, but this time they’re reaching out to our neighbors. Check out their blog for up to the minute information on volunteer opportunities and resources for those affected in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
- Volunteermatch.org – VolunteerMatch has compiled a great list of information about assisting with Hurricane Sandy. This site also has a great database to find volunteer opportunities in your area. You can search by cause, age group or location and find a program that’s right for you.
- American Red Cross – The American Red Cross is a major hub in disaster recovery. While the money you donate is not guaranteed to go to Hurricane Sandy victims (donations go into a fund for any disaster recovery effort), the money will help someone in need.
- Food Banks in CT, NJ, and NY – Donating to a food bank is a great way to donate to victims of a storm when you are not able to physically lend a hand. Food Banks in the affected areas are working hard to feed those who lost their homes and belongings to Sandy.
When a disaster like this happens, especially one so close to home, our first response is usually to jump in and lend a hand on the ground or bring supplies to those in need. Right now, many areas are still in disaster mode coming out of this storm. Emergency crews are working tirelessly to help those in danger. If those areas were flooded with inexperienced volunteers or with mass amounts of unnecessary supplies, it would make the jobs of rescue workers even more difficult. Until the major areas affected are in recovery mode, there is not much that the rest of us can do except donate what money we can and send thoughts and words of support.
Vermont Woods Studios expresses our condolences to families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Since we have customers and employees with families in those regions, we feel a special need to offer our help and support. While we have not organized anything yet, we are currently looking for ways to volunteer or raise money to support the victims of the storm. Keep an eye on our blog as we update with new resource links as they become available and opportunities for you to give back.
We are feeling very lucky this morning, waking up to intermittent rain and occasional gusts of wind from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. Although tens of thousands of Vermonters lost power last night, thankfully Vermont has escaped the worst of the storm. As pain from last year’s devastating Hurricane Irene has yet to subside, it makes me wonder if perhaps Mother Nature has a heart after all.
Our thoughts and prayers are going out to all our friends, family and customers who are today going through the kind of nightmare we woke up to last year on August 21, 2011. In the coming days we will be thinking of you and looking for ways to help. Vermonters have a tradition of reaching out in times of need and we will be supporting our state’s efforts to send relief to hurricane victims in neighboring areas. Stay tuned for details as they evolve.
If I was a cow and you gave me a choice of where I could live, I’d seriously consider Vermont. Wouldn’t you? I mean, you’d think this guy has it pretty sweet… rolling pastures with a brook running between them, expansive views of the Connecticut River, lush meadows with an endless supply of green grass to feast on. What more could a steer ask for?
But you know what they say about the other side of the fence. For this poor guy, it’s a farm stand full of freshly picked corn, squash, tomatoes and other succulent veggies. It stands there all day long, fully stocked– and abundantly available with nothing in between but a barbed wire fence and an honor system.
Can you imagine the frustration? I don’t know if I could live like that. There’s not much else to do that might provide a distraction either. A couple times a day a train goes by. Once or twice a week the Cabot truck comes to get milk from the holsteins across the street but other than that, it’s pretty quiet in Vernon, Vermont.
So I think everyone in town cheered this guy on when he finally made his move. Who could blame him? I hope he had plenty of time to indulge before anyone noticed. I don’t know what the eventual consequences were, but from the looks of things it really didn’t matter much to him.
Like this post if you think this steer should eat for free.
Since forest conservation is a big part of my mission at Vermont Woods Studios, it’s been a little heart-breaking for me to see some of the 100 year old trees at Stonehurst being taken down. There were a handful that were leaning over the house and garage and Ken insisted that they were a hazard and had to go.
But lucky for me, Vince Johnson of Johnson Custom Milling in Vernon, VT came to the rescue. Vince is milling the trees so we can use them for future phases of construction at Stonehurst, our fine furniture showroom. Here’s a video of his portable sawmill in operation.
Ken and Jeremy Coleman of J Coleman & Company Architects are looking into building a solar kiln to dry the wood so we can use it as soon as possible.
And Dennis has plans to siphon off some of the wood to build bluebird houses, owl boxes and such. It’s turning out to be a fun project after all. Let us know on our Facebook if you have any thoughts or advice for us as we go down this road of renovation at Stonehurst, our future fine furniture showroom. We’ll be posting photos of the transformation and announcing details of our open house as we get closer to completion.
When we closed on our purchase of the Stonehurst property (future home for Vermont Woods Studios) last week we were lucky enough to be able to spend some time with former owners Bill and Elaine Ellis who lived there with their family for over 30 years.
Elaine was showing me old photos of Stonehurst when it was the ski area, Pine Top. She even gave me a VHS tape that the Vernon Historians made to document the Pine Top era.
I'm slowly going through the details and looking forward to meeting with Town Historian Barbara Mosely to learn more. In the meantime, does anyone know who these handsome ski instructors are? The photo has no date but Pine Top was in existence from the mid-40s to the mid 60s.
If you have the answer, how about posting it on our Facebook or in the comment section below.
Thanks and stay tuned for Stonehurst – Pine Top updates
as we renovate the property. We are looking to make it the Northeast's
premiere destination shopping experience for beautiful, high end,
Vermont made furniture. But before we open the doors, we want you to stop by for an open house, ESPECIALLY if you ever skied at Pine Top!
I am happy to report that Ken and I finally closed on our purchase of Stonehurst today… woohoo! We've got much work ahead in renovating and transforming it into a fine furniture gallery, nature center and destination shopping experience but this is an exciting first step.
Today I just wanted to make a quick entry to thank all the professionals who helped us with the property purchase. Our gratitude goes out to our wonderful real estate agent, Suzanne King of Masiello Realty in Brattleboro, Peter Carvell our (ever so thorough) banker from, Brattleboro Savings and Loan and Rich Carroll, our attorney from Potter Stewart Law who has managed to keep us in good humor throughout the process.
We are also grateful to Elaine and Bill Ellis the people who stewarded this historic property over the last 30 years and transferred care of it to us today. We are looking forward to the day we can welcome them back to see the renovations– hopefully in 6 months or so.
Stay tuned for periodic updates, including reports about our new friend Stoney who (we just discovered) currently resides at Stonehurst.
We've been very lucky at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture to have six fabulous summer interns this year. Douglas's three teens: Trenton, Tristan and Taegen, Manjula's daughter Mugdha, my neighbor Angela and of course Kendall who's been working in our business since he was 12 (Manjula says we have to stop calling him an intern at this point and promote him. I don't know…what do you think?).
The kids give us a hand completing important projects that help us run more efficiently. They get great experience learning how a small business works and we get top notch work at a discount price!
Here are a few snapshots I was able to sneak in over the summer as these hard-workers helped us grow our sales and further our green mission. We're sending them our sincere thanks for a job well done.
And best wishes for a fun and successful year at school!
It's been such a hot, dry summer in Vermont this year. I know (from following fellow Vermonter, Bill McKibbon's work at 350.org) there is much to fear with global warming. Bu I can't complain about getting the world's best sweet corn a month early this year.
Stop by this quaint farmstand on Vermont Route 142, at the Massachusetts border if you're looking to grace your dinner table with a fresh, local delicacy. You won't be disappointed.