Updated: Dec 8, 2020
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PETE CURIALLE Nestled in a quiet valley in Morrisville, Vermont at the end of a gently curving country road, an awe-inspiring vacation rental property sits in a secluded and peaceful clearing. Green’s Mountain Meadow is a creatively conceived and immaculately constructed home that faultlessly encapsulates the historic architectural traditions of the Green Mountain State. Standing on 255 acres of pristine and unspoiled Vermont land, the four-bedroom, two full bathroom/two half bathroom home is an ideal setting for both unforgettable family vacations and lavishly discreet romantic getaways. The area surrounding the house is breathtakingly expansive. Two wide and majestic clearings surrounded by rows of tall and stately trees provide a perfect venue for enjoyable outdoor activities. A pond with a paddleboat lies down at the bottom of a gently sloping hill in front of the home, and an elaborately structured two-room wooden treehouse with a tall and wide staircase is mystically concealed in the forest standing directly behind it.
The story of how the home came to be is every bit as captivating as the enchanting vista that greets incoming guests as they pull into the driveway. After owners Scott and Britt Green partnered with a skilled and experienced Northern Vermont builder, they were able to actualize their dream home into reality. By blending innovative and elegant design concepts with traditional post-and-beam architecture and making creative use of reclaimed materials, the Green family overcame the odds to build a house every bit as memorable and iconic as the meadow it calls home.
According to Scott Green, one of the things that he and Britt love best about the house is its “rich Vermont history. The original property where Green’s Mountain Meadow now stands was deforested and farmed back in the 1700s. The first house on the property was built in 1800. There was also a barn that stood there. In the 1940s, the Fournier family sold all 255 acres to the Watson family. The Watson family then brought another original post-and-beam barn over to the property from Cambridge, Vermont. It was disassembled in Cambridge and brought over and erected in Morrisville in the 1950s, where it was attached to the house that then stood on the property. When we acquired the home in December of 2004, we were so excited to get started on the renovation process. We weren’t at all prepared for what happened next. Right after we initially started renovating the house, there was a tragic fire in 2005. We lost the original home that was there. It was horrifying. It really tested our resolve.”
Scott recalls that “it was incredibly devastating to lose the house, but we knew that we had to keep going. Britt and I decided that we weren’t going to let anything deter us from accomplishing our dream. We started looking all around Vermont for barns to duplicate exactly what was there before the fire. We wanted the barn that we used to build the new structure to be located in Vermont. We wanted it to be a perfect embodiment of the same style that the old barn on the property was built in.”
The Greens then embarked on a scouting mission around the state to find the perfect structures to repurpose to build their home. Scott says that one of the first real breakthrough moments was when they “found an old post-and-beam barn that was in Panton, Vermont that was built in 1774. We purchased it and had it disassembled there in Panton and then re – erected here in Morrisville in 2005. The barn now stands about 100 feet down from where the old barn was - just on the other side of the apple tree. We incorporated traditional construction methods to build the barn in the same fashion that it had been originally constructed in. We wanted to stay true to the architectural tradition. We put the barn together with hand-hewn beams and oak wood pegs exactly as it was originally made. After the barn section of the house was complete, we then decided to add a connected silo tower. We wanted it to be big enough to have several bedrooms in it. We also wanted to use all reclaimed materials for the structure. We ended up having to purchase three separate silos and reconstruct them to form one large silo, because we needed enough material to fashion interior and exterior walls. The silo has a bathroom and several bedrooms in it. The center chamber is framed with conventional framing – but it still has all of the old iron hoops that hold those walls together. All of the deconstructed silos that we used were sourced from surrounding Vermont towns. It was so fulfilling to watch it all come together.”
Scott says that in addition to the structure of the barn and silo, he and Britt “tried to make sure that everything remained true to the original style by also using Vermont-sourced materials for all of the standout features in the house. One of the most exciting highlights of the home is an indoor-outdoor double fireplace. It’s one of our favorite things about it. We hired a Vermont-based brick mason to construct the inside of both sides of the fireplace. All of the stone was sourced from a Vermont quarry, and some of the bricks that were used to build the inside of the chimney were repurposed from the original Fannie Allen hospital in Burlington. We wanted to pay tribute to Vermont’s history.”
The home’s rustically refined aesthetic is further enhanced by its gorgeous kitchen area. Impeccably finished cabinets with old fashioned pin-and-pintle hinges conceal modern appliances such as a sub-zero refrigerator and an electric oven. According to Britt, the tasteful integration of modern appliances was essential to ensure the overall stylistic cohesion of the home.
Britt says that she and Scott wanted to make sure that “everything was as authentic as possible - but still functional and approachable for a family with kids today. There is a refrigerator and a dishwasher and a disposal, as well as a stove, an oven, and some modern features like a coffee maker, a toaster, and a blender behind some of the cabinet doors. We wanted the cabinets to look like they had gracefully aged over time, so we had them stained and painted brown, then we added layers of black and red paint. Then we sanded off some of the paint so you could see a little red color through the black. It’s a gorgeous effect that really gives it that warm and welcoming feeling.”
The Greens’ fastidious attention to historically-accurate detail is manifested in the distinguished and unique decorative furnishings within the house. Scott insists that “when you’re taking on a project of this magnitude, every single detail is incredibly important. The entire vision has to line up. That’s why when it comes to things like cabinetry and furniture, we had to plan everything ahead. We wanted to make sure each element of the house was exactly the way it would have been when the original barns and silos were constructed. Different artifacts and pieces in the house pay tribute to different historical eras in Vermont. One of our most beloved pieces is a wooden telephone on the wall. The best thing about it is that it actually works. The tables, the chairs, and the buffet that holds the dishes are all old historical pieces of furniture that we have collected in our travels around Vermont. It all builds together to create an incredible sensory experience that completely immerses you in Vermont’s history.” Scott and Britt were deeply touched by the outpouring of support from local Vermont community members during the reconstruction process. After the original house burned down in 2004, he and Britt stayed at the Butternut Inn in Stowe during the early stages of their building and design process. Years later, a moment of cyclical coincidence allowed the Greens’ restorative journey to come full circle.
According to Scott, “The dishes displayed in the buffet are from the Butternut Inn in Stowe. It sadly burned down about 10 years ago. When we heard what had happened to the Butternut Inn, we went and bought the dishes from the lady who worked there. We wanted a piece of their history in our house. We figured that we shared something in common with them. We both lost something very important to us. The Butternut Inn had been there since the early 1800s – just like our house. We understood what it felt like to lose a piece of history. In all honesty, we probably got 20 or 30 phone calls from concerned Vermont citizens when our original house burned down. People reached out in incredible ways. They didn’t just say ‘we’re sorry you lost your home’, they said ‘we’re sorry that the state of Vermont has lost your home.’ I found that to be an interesting perspective that I very much related to. I wanted to recapture that era of history for the state of Vermont in everything that we did with this house.”
The Greens’ fruitful collaborative partnership with Morrisville-based builder Jeff Emerson, allowed them to incorporate captivatingly innovative features into their home that bridge the gap between present and past architectural traditions. Scott says that hiring Jeff for the project was “one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’ve built 4 or 5 houses in my life and I’ve done a lot of different projects. I’ve only found one person that I could trust fully to bring my vision to life perfectly. He really put his heart into it and cared about it with the same passion and intensity that I did. He’s the most honest man that I’ve ever met. If I can give any advice to homeowners who are looking to take on a project of this scale, it would be to call up Freelance Construction in Morrisville and hire Jeff Emerson. It was great working with him. We were able to work together to create some truly incredible features for the home together. One of my favorites is the door on the master bathroom. It’s an old barn door that is on a 200-year-old barn door roller and slide, so the bathroom door slides just like a barn door does. There’s also a fascinatingly complex ladder that leads up to the cupola. We wanted a real cupola in the barn, but I wanted to make the ladder that led up to it able to fold down. I didn’t want a 40-foot ladder sitting in my bedroom all the time. Jeff and I devised a mechanical system that makes the ladder fold up into itself when you pull on these large hemp ropes. The rope takes the ladder and folds it up into the ceiling. There are five sets of pulleys involved. The ladder was made from this gorgeous old white oak that has a similar tone to the oak used in the rest of the house. It was a pretty incredible engineering feat. It’s one of the things that really sets the house apart from other properties.”
Thanks to the dedicated passion of The Green family and the masterful work of Jeff Emerson, the spectacular property at Green’s Mountain Meadow now stands as a testament to the values of persistence and passion that define the spirit of the Green Mountain State. It wasn’t easy to start over in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but as Britt Green puts it:
“The best way to approach projects like this is to fall in love with the process in itself. It’s not the final outcome that you’re after, it’s the time you spend designing, researching, and finding things out that’s the most fulfilling. If you allow yourself to love the entire process, the love you give will be reflected in the final result.”