Blog :: 02-2015

Reading, Vermont: The Vermont Alps Welcome You

Have you ever heard of the Vermont Alps? Yes, it sounds strange. But, think of the scenery from that movie The Sound of Music – open pastures with views, green hills with well-worn hiking paths up where dairy cows come to meet you at the fence and places where you want to spin around in a ridiculously dizzying manner.  Maybe you just want to jump on your horse and gallop down dirt roads through an arbor of maple trees. No billboards, no skyscrapers, just the fresh air, land and sky. The place for all this is Reading, Vermont. For horse lovers, Reading (pron. Red-ding) also happens to border two equestrian capitals of the region, South Woodstock and West Windsor.

The small community, located between Woodstock and Springfield, does not call attention to itself. There is nothing fancy here. Its center is a “hollow" with plenty of wide-open acreage rising up into its alp-like pastures that continue to Tyson and a small lake-country due West towards Ludlow.  The population of Reading is approximately 700 year-round residents who live on old Vermont family farms, down dirt roads  or on the simple main street (Rt. 106)  with its town hall, churches, an elementary  school, a greenhouse and a general store. 

Yet, within its simple borders, in the shadow of Mt. Ascutney on one side of the Valley and the “Alps” on the other, you’ll find one of Vermont’s best swimming holes, known as Twenty Foot Hole,  not to mention the surprising location of one well-known financier’s farmstead and exceptional collection of modern art. Andrew Hall, of late, has made quite an impact on the community establishing his Newhall Farm with its many farm-to-table products and rotating art exhibits within a refurbished barn (Hall Art Foundation). But even those without big names or large wallets are here in Reading quietly creating artisan cheeses or growing vegetables, selling their Vermont wares far and wide.

In March, the steam still rises from maple sugar houses in Reading as the sap oozes out of trees and residents prepare for various spring and summer activities – a major Fourth of July parade, a strawberry supper.

Those who live in Reading year-round have found a place to call home easily within commuting distance to Woodstock and other Upper Valley locations, working at the National Park or the Woodstock Inn and Resort. Nearby Mt. Ascutney Hospital in Windsor is both a medical provider and a local employer.

For winter sports, Reading is within reach of Okemo and Killington and easy to get to from either Boston or New York City via Interstate 89 or 91. Lebanon, New Hampshire Municipal Airport provides connection to Boston Logan and LaGuardia Airports. Hartford, Connecticut is just two hours away.

Reading is also a must-go destination for any number of summer athletic events  due to its incredible beauty and  its rolling, but challenging hills. The community hosts participants in the Vermont 100  ultra-marathon, 50K mountain bike races and multiple weekend equestrian trail rides sponsored by the nearby Green Mountain Horse Association.

Whether you’re looking for a place to keep horses, raise a family, retire or just enjoy weekends in the country, Reading offers magnificent possibilities in an un-fussy and private atmosphere. And while the location is rural, you can still find places to dine out by taking a little drive to Keepers, The Kedron Valley Inn, The Hartland Diner or The Skunk Hollow Tavern. Don’t forget the ice cream stand just south of Reading at a place called Downer’s Corners. After a swim in your pond or at that secret swimming hole on a hot day, you might find yourself there, sitting on a bench watching the world go by, any pent-up stress dripping away like your delicious maple walnut ice cream cone.  You might even be tempted to turn off your phone.  We won’t tell.  

BTW, arguably, the most-photographed scene in Vermont?

On postcards everywhere? The Jenne Farm. Reading, Vermont.

So bucolic and popular an image that Malone, New York used a photo of the farm as background for a roadside billboard.

What’s will your  postcard look like?

Picture Perfect Postcard Pomfret, Vermont

Pomfret is one of the most beautiful locations in New England, with its clear running brooks and green rolling pastures perfect for skiing, hiking, walking and more intense pursuits like farming. The Appalachian Trail runs right up and over Pomfret on its way to Hanover, New Hampshire. You’ll find Cloudland Farm here with its Angus cattle and the popular off-the-beaten track  farm-to-table restaurant. A not so tongue-in-cheek sign at the farm nearby advises hikers that short-cutting through the fields will end up with an impromptu  “running of the bulls” with hikers likely to lose to the bull.

But, go up and over and around the scenic Pomfret  dirt roads and you will surely find little pieces of heaven. Wild Apple and Oatway Farms are just two examples of the iconic properties  listed here by Snyder Donegan Real Estate Group.

 

In Pomfret, people give names to  their farmsteads or  refer to location by family name. Directions are the same, “Just past Oatway and the orchards on the left…” One resident named his property “The Sweet Spot” and runs his professional recording studio of the same name out of an attached barn.

Speaking of barns, an old dilapidated barn that was, for the longest time, in disuse as part of the MIT Ski House  property, is now the splendid  big bright renovated Artistree Arts Center just up from Teago General Store. The arts organization – part of the greater Woodstock community  -- offers workshops, well-lit studios, galleries and performance space.

Through the large glass windows at the back of the big old red barn you can see “The Face” of Suicide Six Ski Area, run by the Woodstock Inn and Resort. The Woodstock Ski Runners program for local kids  is operated at “Six”, a great place for locals and families.

During colder winter days its traditional tree-lined New England trails protect from the wind making skiing or riding much more pleasant and fun.  It’s also no big deal to take a few runs every day and head back to work or pick up the kids at school.  Location is everything as the ski area is also just down the road from The Pomfret School, a Windsor County charter school for elementary-aged children.

 

Settled by some folks from Connecticut, Pomfret was named after England’s Earl of Pomfret. The community is just 40 square miles. You might have to drive by twice to catch the Pomfret Town Clerk's Office , a tiny brick building,  sitting atop a steep hill dividing North and South Pomfret. The views from this hillside are perfection. Moore’s apple orchards fall off to one side, a popular place for apple picking in the Fall. Also in North Pomfret the former Trafalgar Square Publishing cattle farm which, for many years, was the exclusive importer of British books in the U.S. and publisher of several well-regarded equestrian manuals. Vermont Law School in South Royalton is within minutes of Pomfret for those who have interests there and close to Interstates 89 and 91 for quick commutes to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center or north to Montpelier and Burlington.

Pomfret real estate offerings reflect ties to the land – many with barns, ponds, equipment sheds, maple tree-lined winding dirt roads into cozy valleys or up onto magnificent Vermont hilltops. The sweetest antique cape houses provide welcome quiet retreats while expansive contemporary homes are ready for you and your guests.  Look at our listings for some ideas.

If you are looking for some daily social life, just stop by Teago General Store to pick up your mail and enjoy coffee and a sandwich made by one-time professional Chef Chuck Gunderson. Chuck also helped start and run an alternative radio station back in the day  and writes a column for The Vermont Standard. People are busy here. Everyone has a back-story. What’s yours?

Some of the more famous people who have chosen Pomfret as their home include Rush Hawkins, a Union general during the civil war;  Judah Dana, later to become a Maine State Senator; Lyman Johnson, a leader of the Latter Day Saints; Joe Perry, Aerosmith guitarist; and William Arkin, an arms expert and political journalist. Each of these individuals found property in Pomfret that suited their requirements for living in a fertile, beautiful place, close to urban centers, but seemingly far, far away. Pomfret  is a place where watching the  full moon setting as coyotes yip in the distance is a welcome reason to wake up early in the morning, starting another fresh Pomfret, Vermont day.

South Woodstock, VT: Pastoral, Peaceful and Verdant

Just five miles from the Woodstock village green is the hamlet of South Woodstock, one of the most desirable communities in the region.  The Kedron Brook meanders through the postcard-perfect valley, location of many historic federal and colonial houses and some of the area's most gracious and storied estates. Generations of families continue to call South Woodstock home, ready to pass on the history of the place to anyone who asks or would like to listen.

South Woodstock is also home of the venerable Green Mountain Horse Association, host to the most precise and beautiful equestrian dressage events to rougher, down-to-earth 50 and 100 mile trail rides. 

 

The GMHA's mission is to provide and maintain opportunity for educational and competitive activities for diverse equestrian disciplines. So, it is no accident that riding boots are de rigeur on the beautiful summer-dining porch or in the clubby tavern of the Kedron Valley Inn. Many who visit in summer, also take a plunge in the Inn's wonderfully cool spring-fed pond just next to the South Woodstock Country Store. Families with their small kids can get passes to the pond's small beach, little ones plucking minnows and tadpoles from the water into fishing nets for full inspection in water-filled sand pails later.

By providing a gorgeous and popular location for horses and their people, GMHA contributes to the vitality and sophistication of this storied hamlet, a place that has also attracted a handful of Hollywood's most famous -- among them Charles Bronson and Michael J. Fox -- but not the sort that seek high visibility. Rather, these "celebrities" are always able to blend in, go about their business and be completely comfortable in an environment were locals respect their right to privacy.

 

The farms and luxury estates in South Woodstock offer plenty of beautiful homes and outbuildings, ponds, land and views -- of course -- but, most of all, what these properties offer is the freedom to completely -- and safely - relax in an uncertain world.  If desired, theater, music, schools, shopping, interstates and municipal airports are just a half hour away. Several properties in South Woodstock also include their own helicopter landing pads.

One need not be a horse lover to love living the South Woodstock life. It has everything you would expect to find in Vermont: great natural beauty, down-to-earth, hard-working people, a respect for history and tradition and a place to celebrate life in the smallest or grandest of ways.

South Woodstock--pastoral, peaceful and verdant, is a place to live the good life.