I was drawn to an alluring castle on a hill many years ago on a road trip through central and southern Vermont. I detoured and drove up the road to the hillside where several workmen perched high on scaffolds, repairing the roof and eaves. Many were busy below as well, working on various projects. I asked a few what the building was, and none of them seemed to know, other than they had a deadline, “good day.”
It was an imposing stone building, 3 stories high, with a lot of heavy carved timbers under the roof and intriguing window cases. There was no way I could explore further with all the activity but I never completely forgot this place. I found myself wondering about it at odd times. When I asked a few other New England travelers about it, (of course I didn’t remember the town it was in), they shook their heads. “Are you sure it was in Vermont?”
Yes, I’m sure of that.
Early last summer, Pat found a Groupon to stay at a motel for a few days in central Vermont, where there were several golf courses he was interested in playing Tater Hill and Okemo. I can always find things to do anywhere in Vermont so I’m all in. I only asked, ” Are there any cooking facilities in the room?.” so I’d know what to pack for food. As it was a newish hotel, I didn’t take any interest in the facility beforehand as I would have if it had been an old inn or other historic site.
A Stone Bed and Breakfast in the Area
We took a meandering drive on the morning we left for our mini-vaca, and eventually, I recognized the area around Chester. Chester is a town I’ve often enjoyed driving through as it has an abundance of stone houses and other buildings. We checked out a few golf courses as we drove near and eventually arrived at our destination; The Pointe Hotel in Cavendish. Imagine my surprise when I looked up from the parking lot and saw the castle on the hill above us!
We were staying at the Pointe Hotel at The Castle Hill Resort ! The Castle-like building I’d seen so many years before had been restored and was now part of this resort. The vintage stone building I’d ‘discovered’ back then, it turns out, was originally the mansion home of Vermont Governor Allen Miller Fletcher, serving the state from 1912 to 1915. The home was built at the turn of the 18th century of gneiss stone, quarried on the property,and hand-carved California redwood. European craftsman worked on the masterpiece for over five years to complete the home and elegant carriage house.
The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the landscaping for the grounds was drafted by Frederick Law Olmsted (who designed Central Park in NY, NY), among many other notable places.
The ‘castle’ is now an elite hotel, each room containing the original furniture from Fletcher’s time, including the bedrooms. Although we were staying in the hotel below, we were able to get a tour through the former mansion home and see any rooms upstairs that had no guests currently (Wow!) and all the rooms below; library, dining room, drawing room … Each with its own impressive fireplace. We were able to have breakfast there one morning for a very reasonable price and I spent some time reading in one of the vine-covered bowers on the grounds in the gardens. Meanwhile, Pat checked out the spa, located in the beautiful restored carriage house, and enjoyed that too.
Although the place was very elegant and old worldly, it was also very inviting and relaxing. The atmosphere was entirely unpretentious. The hotel where we stayed was clean and spacious as well.
The resort has several condominiums to stay in as well, further up the hill, actually, a mountainside. So, there’s another mystery in my life solved! One more down, so many more to go!
The Stone Buildings Above are a Sampling of Those in the Chester, Proctorville Area of Vermont
We ventured to Plymouth Notch to visit the Calvin Coolidge birthplace, seen below. This little village is like taking a step back in time. It is beautifully restored and very relaxing to visit. The rose bushes in the gardens scented the whole area! Plymouth Notch takes up a whole hilltop and the Coolidge family history is well documented here and many, including the president, have found their final rest in the cemetery here.
Above, The Porch and Pantry of the Home Coolidge Occupied while President and After
The Church at Plymouth Notch and the Cheese Company Coolidge’s Family Operated at Plymouth Notch Vermont
Some Interestingly Weathered Properties Along our Route
Pat Teeing Off at Tater Hill Golf Course