Rest days turned into touring days

Sometimes good intentions are abandoned for better plans.  We intended to spend our few days at a lovely Charlotte, Vermont AirBnB resting and reading. Then we talked to our host and discovered that, just a few miles down the road, the neighboring town of Shelburne, Vermont has two fabulous destinations that must be seen.

We headed first to Shelburne Farms with the largest barn we’ve ever seen.

Dr. William Seward Webb and Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt and their descendants owned Shelburne Farms from 1886 until 1972.  An inheritance from Vanderbilt money allowed them to create an “ornamental” farm, complete with numerous barns and Brown Swiss cows to graze on the picturesque land. Frederick Law Olmsted guided the Webbs in the design and landscaping of their 3,800 acres (1,500 ha).  Since 1972, the farm has become a nonprofit organization.

We saw turkeys, pigs, sheep, and a wide variety of chickens as we walked around the barnyard.

We’d been told the breeding barn was interesting so we walked over to see it. The size and architectural detail of all the barns at Shelburne made quite an impact.

Walking back along the paths through the landscaped woods and rolling lawns, we admired Olmstead’s work.

We came upon a wood sculpture by Jerry Geier not far from the main barn.  It was so subtly placed near the woods that we almost missed it.

One of the nicest gardens we’ve seen graced the lawn of the Webbs’s home (now an inn).  Imagine lush  plantings along long brick walls stepping down to Lake Champlain.

The next two days we spent visiting the other “Shelburne” in town, the Shelburne Museum.  The Webbs, of Shelburne Farms, had a son who married Electra Havemeyer, a women of great wealth.

Electra became an avid collector of all things related to arts and crafts in America, and the museum she founded was the repository for her extensive collection.  Her collection was housed in a series of smaller buildings, many of historic note, which had been moved to the site.   We toured through her collections of Early American and Impressionist paintings, weathervanes, quilts, trivets, dolls, hatboxes, duck decoys, pottery, and so much more.

One of the old colonial houses held her early American art, including one of our favorites, “Penn’s Treaty with the Indians” by Edward Hicks, ca. 1840-1845.

We passed a little lighthouse that had been moved to the museum grounds and placed on a small hill.   Nearby, in a sea of grass, …

…was the steamboat, Ticonderoga, originally built in Shelburne in 1906.  It had transported passengers across Lake Champlain before it was retired and made its journey back to rest at the Museum.

We did not overlook the many plantings and small gardens at Shelburne Museum, but two days is hardly enough time to see everything.

Our time at that lovely AirBnB in Charlotte was entirely devoted to seeing both Shelburne Farm and Museum, and we never did get even a moment to read or relax.  We couldn’t have asked for anything better!


September 2018

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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7 Responses to Rest days turned into touring days

  1. I’ve heard of Shelburne but never seen photos before. It looks like a wonderful place to spend a day or two.

  2. Marie says:

    Looks like a place for a summer road trip. Did they say why the steamboat was docked in the lawn at Shelburne?

    • The answer to your question came in a Wikipedia enquiry: In the 1950’s the operation of the Ticonderoga was no longer feasible and Electra Havemeyer Webb was persuaded to buy it. Imagine how time-consuming and expensive the move was to get it from the water to its resting place on the grass of the museum grounds? It’s truly a rare object. Only one other boat like it still exists – the Eureka – in San Francisco.

  3. Jet Eliot says:

    How wonderful to have found Shelburne, Beth and Joe, it looks like your time was well spent there. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. leggypeggy says:

    So much for a rest day. That wood sculpture is amazing.

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