History of the Inn & Its' Keepers
"Moonlight in Vermont takes on a whole new meaning when you experience it live from our secluded property. Take a stroll in the evening, gaze at the stars and moon, listen to the sounds of nature as frogs chirp and the water flows. No street lights, strip malls or neighbors to interfere with your relaxation - with the possible exception of the nay of a horse from the nearby farm."
Vermont Division for
A photographic postcard circa 1912 shows the home - and it's occupants (standing in the middle left). A close-up scan of the image below shows what is believed to be the Orcutt family, the dwellers of the home at that time. Imagine, is these walls could talk... original inhabitants of the home survived without electricity, indoor plumbing and modern heat; the home warmed only by the fireplaces serving each floor.
Believed to be The Orcutt Family: 3 Children Standing (2 Holding Hands) and the Mother with Infant. Likely photographed by the father. And standing in front of a "barn door" opening, now the main entrance to the Inn's west wing and pub room. Can you even begin to imagine the metamorphous of the indoor space through time.
According to Michael Yusko, Innkeeper (1978 to 1982), the bricks that were used to build the home were made in a kiln on this very land; in 1807, ground was broken and building began on what would become a welcoming Inn some 100 plus years later.
Completed around 1810, the original Federal style farmhouse structure served as a private residence and farm. Over the years, as is often the case with old New England homes, additions were added until the original home and the original barn were "connected". This is the case with The Stone Hearth Inn. The Main Home features 6 guest rooms with an additional 4 rooms in the "ell" (L). This is part of several additions, constructed in the middle 1800's that connects the original home to the barn. The Inn still features the unique and original exposed beams and hardwood floors from nearly 200 years ago (with modern bedding, plumbing and electricity I should add)!
I am "guessing" that as many as 6 additions occurred before home and barn became one.
In 1893 at the age of 4, John Orcutt moved to Chester with his parents where they operated a farm until 1942. Who built the home and who lived here between 1810 and 1893 still remains a mystery...
A vintage postcard titled "Orcutt Flat". We believe this is what became or what currently is Route 11 approaching the Inn...
A story was told that in 1913, the original barn burned to the ground when "Ma Baker" knocked over her lantern. It would later be determined, to the best of our knowledge that the barn never did burn to the ground. In the Spring of 2002 while adding a patio door to the bar, we discovered craftsmanship, nails and wood that would clearly indicate construction pre-1900.
An amazing image photographed from east - before ANY other buildings existed in or near the home...
In 1942 during World War II, the property was converted to an Inn - "The Vail House". Named for the owners at the time, at least one member of the Vail family, Sarah, still resides in Chester.
Sometime during the early 1950's, the Vails sold the Inn and built a small motel about an 1/8 of a mile west on Route 11. Then known as "Vail's Motor Court", the motel still operates today as "Motel in the Meadow".
The Inn took on it's first name change and became known as the "Hotel Everay", named aptly for Evelyn Bonitz and her husband Raymond. A seventy year resident of Chester remembers bartending at "Hotel Everay" while guests danced to the sounds similar to those of the Glenn Miller Orchestra! He recalls the popular 1950's dances that took place in the very barn annex where people still dance to this day!
Town records show that by 1958, the property was referred to as the "Chester Rest Home". Ironically, the entire property was appraised for under $10,000 during the same year! One can still find the old "electronic" call system (now disconnected) in the basement. During your visit, ask about the barn "trap door" story.
In early 1975, Dave and Mary Cantwell with their 6 daughters arrived from Massachusetts and converted the now closed Rest Home back to an Inn. This time, the new owners christened her the "Independence Inn".In December of 2001, a reunion of the Cantwell daughters was held at the Inn! Many memories and stories were shared.
While "cleaning up" upon arrival to the Inn, a sign was discovered from the "Independence Inn" that once stood proudly in front of the old home. This somewhat aged piece of wood still held many a memory for Amy and her sisters (daughters of Dave and Mary). After sharing a weekend of memories, this piece of memorabilia was returned back to the family who created it.
The reverse side of the sign held some memories:
On July 7, 1976, the Inn again changed ownership. Take a look at an original letter discovered by clicking here.
In 1978, Michael Yusko and his wife moved from New Jersey and purchased the Inn. They renamed it "The Cranberry Inn" and operated it as such until 1982. During their ownership, numerous improvements were made to the rooms and kitchen. The Yusko's served dinner and the tavern was a popular place for drinks and dancing. The area now home to the Hot Tub was then a raised platform where the bands played!
Finally in late 1982 the Inn was acquired by Sharon Papineau and her husband Andre. It was named "The Stone Hearth Inn". The Papineau's continued renovations throughout the Inn. Sharon left the area only to return years later. She now owns and operates "Over Andover Used Books" in nearby Andover VT.
In 1986, the property changed ownership again, but the name was not changed! And until the late 1980's, the property was bustling with activity - weddings, special events and dinner guests. The restaurant and tavern were popular among local residents as well as travelers from across New England. In the early 1990's, the restaurant and tavern were (for the most part) closed to the public as the owners tended to their young family.
In October of 2000, Chris Clay and Brent Anderson from St. Minnesota purchased the Inn. After a successful run of 3 1/2 years and a tremendous amount of improvements, the torch was passed on in May of 2004 to new Innkeepers. However, with the onslaught of economic woes, a downturn in Real Estate sales and a few challenging winters, sadly the Inn closed in 2006.
Fortunately, filled with amazing energy, the Inn found a new owner in December 2007, and re-opened for business in early 2008.
Inn Photographed in the Spring of 2003
Other interesting tidbits learned along the way: The water main for the town of Chester actually runs through the front parking area of the property, which originally served as the town highway many decades ago! The (still) dirt road that sits beside the Inn, "Reservoir Road" was so named for the supply of water it provided (and still does to this day). Train tracks at one point ran quite near our property leading to the old quarry up Reservoir Road. A new "modern" reservoir was constructed around the early 1970's.
Stone Hearth Inn
Copyright Christopher Clay 2000 to 2008 All Rights Reserved