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Riding a Rollercoaster (As It Was Then) - Home Page

January 2008 Update

The Inn was blessed with a new owner in December 2007!  The Inn and Tavern have again opened for business ... more details here.

There are two sections to this page - the original one "The Vermont Years - Riding a Rollercoaster" written in March of 2004 as I anguished over the pending sale of the Inn.  And now, exactly 3 years later, the anguish, hurt and pain I feel over the pending Auction of the Inn in a week (Friday March 30, 2007). 

March 2007 Update

If you know me, you know that my former life and business partner and I sold the Inn in May 2004.  The new owners operated it for about 2 years.  After an unsuccessful attempt to sell the Inn in a weak real estate market, they eventually closed the property in 2006.

In mid-March 2007, I learned that the Inn was being forced into an auction sale by the bank.  It broke my heart.  You have no idea how devastating this news was to me.  My first reaction with only 2 weeks to the pending auction - go to Vermont and save it!  After all, it was me (and Brent for the first 2 years) whose blood, sweat and tears went into bringing the property back to life.  Thousands and thousands spent on improvements, not to mention over 30 grand spent to replace the floor and foundation of the barn in 2003.

To see the images at the auction listing showing a vacant Inn, once vibrant with life, love and laughter is heart-wrenching.  The death of the Inn takes a piece of me with it.  Is it possible for a structure to have it's own life?  One quickly argues that this is temporary, and that a new owner will come along, buy it and give it back the life it so desperately needs and deserves.  Yet, there is no guarantee someone will do just that.

My attachments are strictly emotional.  If one analyzed the business situation in Vermont, one would run in the opposite direction.  Continued development on the mountain rips business from the surrounding towns.  Couple that with a generally weak economy and lack of snow for nearly 3 winters.  Does the business that existed during my reign from 2000 to 2004 even exist anymore?

The Emotional Connection:

No one can deny or argue against this one.  Be that as it may, as my Mom said, "you can't go home again", and she knew the Inn was my price and joy (aside from when I telling her what needed fixing today and how much that would set me back).  A part of me will always be there.

I think this slide show I created may help remember the Inn as beautiful as the people who made it the special place it was, and always will be in my life.

NOTE: This was written around March of 2004.  In May of 2004, the business was sold.  For more about my current life, go here

The Vermont Years (as it is referred to it the present tense)

For a pictorial remembrance of the old Inn, click here.

Roller coasters can be a lot of fun - if you like the thrill and excitement that comes with the ride!  Most only last a few minutes, and unless you jump back in line and ride again, the thrill - or fear factor - will be gone almost as quickly as it came.Barn Cupola, Photo by Brent, The Stone Hearth Inn, Chester VT

Sometimes, life is a bit like a rollercoaster.  Up, down, up, down.  Some of the ups are higher then others, and some of the downs can be pretty low.  I would have to describe my life at present, and for the past 15 months at least, if not 3 plus years, as a rollercoaster ride.  One I chose to ride, but one that I didn't think would last so long.  And now, the ride I've been on could likely come to and end by Spring.  Granted, I'll probably start a new coaster ride, but this time I hope to be a bit more in control.

In October of 2000, my former partner and I sold our beautiful home in St. Paul Minnesota, and purchased an Inn in Chester, Vermont.  A dream to many.  We never looked at it that way, but more as a life altering change.  Indeed, our lives were changed, never to be the same again.  By August of 2002, a weakened relationship, a job opportunity for one of us, and a chance at recovery.  We listed our business (the Inn) for sale, and made plans to return to "normal society" (defined as a job that you go to about 5 times a week, with salary and medical benefits hopefully).  In December 2002, my partner (Brent) left Chester Vermont and returned to Minnesota.  With hopes for a fast sale, I stayed on at the Inn, hoping for my return soon to Minnesota.  As the next few months unfolded, the challenges in our relationship surfaced, mostly for Brent.  In May of 2003, he decided our life together as partners would have to end.  After nearly 7 years together, and only 1 month shy of our 5 year Commitment Ceremony anniversary, I was alone in Chester Vermont, with a huge Inn, but without a life (and business) partner. 

Now to try and add some humor to this whole mess, it is important you understand how much I love amusement parks, roller coasters included, and excitement in general.  I thought the Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World was thrilling!  But, like Zsa Zsa on Green Acres said, "New York is where I want to be".  Yet I somehow ended up in Chester Vermont - a small rural Vermont town of 3000 - did I mention rural?  Chester Vermont is like riding the Tilt-A-Whirl and being in the car that does not seem to tilt or whirl, no matter how hard you try.  Which is perfectly fine for many, but not me

So back to my roller coaster...the Inn remained "for sale", and during the summer of 2003, was even under contract for sale - a deal that went rapidly south in August.  Mantas (Left) and Vytautas (Right) from Vilnius LithuaniaDuring this part of the ride, I was blessed with 2 students from Vilnius Lithuania who were in the USA on the work and travel program.  They lived at the Inn, and worked here part-time.  They became part of my ride for a few months of their time here.  By late summer, I put my efforts 110% again into running the business, hosting a fabulous Cast Party for the Weston Playhouse, and soon partnering with Raspberries & Tyme, and my dear friend Keith to manage the food service operation at the Inn.  In November of 2003, with little fanfare, we opened the Playhouse Pub, and started offering full dinner on weekends.  Throughout the winter season, we hosted live music, and in my attempt and bringing something vaguely known as nightlife to Vermont, we offered music, videos and dancing - did I mention I was also a DJ in my past life (St. Paul Minnesota 1995 to 2000).  The roller coaster ride I had been on already only became more extreme with this newest venture.  The ride had long since been fun, and was now far more frightening then I had ever imagined.  Was this my life forever? 

In February 2004, another buyer emerged.  And I was faced with accepting an offer, or attempting to create something out of ... nothing?  Was my idea to bring the city to the country simply insane - in some regards yes, and even if it could fly, it would take many more months, probably years to become something.  All the while, I would still be in Chester Vermont, at the same Inn I purchased with the love of my life only 3 plus years before.  It seems like impossible odds, and a ride that will never end.  I should note that Chester (and Vermont in general) are beautiful places to visit, a step back in time, a good way of life, and living.  The constant battle against development in Vermont is why it remains the pristine state.  Some would think I was crazy for wanting to leave!  There is nothing compared to moonlight in Vermont.

I know my decision to "sell", will sadden many, some close friends, some special guests (now also friends), and well, it will also sadden me to some extent.  But I cannot continue to live my life like this - in Chester Vermont.The Stone Hearth Inn, Chester VermontI need life, culture, bright lights, big city, even freedom.  Prior to my life with Brent, my idea of fixing something was to call the Rental Office of my apartment complex!  I thought white was a great wall color!  And that carpet came in 2 colors - tan or gray!  And now I'm in charge of a nearly 200 year old house/Inn/business.  Insanity is sure to come if I stay on board, mind you, alone.  And I know I'm not alone in the sense of people not caring - so many care so much - but they are not here by my side, day to day, to be part of the triumphs and tragedies - the "ups and downs" of this roller coaster ride.  And so, I must move on - for me, for me.  If this was about all of my supporters, I would stay right here.  But I cannot anymore.  And I tried.  I've been trying since December of 2002, and well even before that.

And so my friends, with all due respect, I find it is time to stop this roller coaster ride, and start one that gives me "some" of the control.  This has indeed been a ride ... I'm ready for it to end, so I can start a new beginning, both in business, and more importantly, in my personal life.  I haven't even figured out exactly where I'm going, or what I plan to do, but I know for sure, after I get off the ride, I need to take a break.

And so the next phase of life begins. 

"Some people don't know what they wanted to do with their life at 22 - some of the most interesting people I know didn't know at 40!" Baz Luhrmann, "Sunscreen"

December 2004:

The Holiday's are a good time for reflection.  That said, I have added a series of photographs, saved from the old web site for the Inn.  After all, this was my life from October of 2000 until May of 2004...

New Years Eve, December 31, 2000 - one of our best times ever - with friends who we think of often, and will always remember. As the years passed, these wonderful people who arrived as "guests", would become "friends".  There never seemed to be enough of these grand moments to sustain us through the more challenging times:

One of the snowiest seasons was our first winter (2001).  Here's a shot of the barn (it was painted red in 2003).  It looks lovely, until you have to shovel it...or have it plowed...or deal with it when it melts...or sand and salt it when it freezes...

One of our greatest (and most back breaking) accomplishments was creating an outdoor patio with flower garden.  This was done the very first Spring (2001).  In the Spring of 2002, we added the Patio Door from the barn.  Alone in the summer of 2003, it was here under the stars with only candles and torches burning I would sit and gaze up at the summer sky.  Often with music in the background, or my students (later friends) from Lithuania we would talk about selling the old Inn, trying to hold onto it, the world we lived in, well, pretty much anything.   It was a very special place to sit and gather with friends, guests, or simply with your own thoughts. 

Sporting a new paintjob, summer 2003 - the black wooden shutters were salvaged from the barn, stripped and repainted.  I hired people to do this job by the way!

By far, the biggest project was the "big dig" when I had the barn raised and the entire foundation replaced in the fall of 2003.  About a month later, with the help of my friend Keith (Owner of Raspberries & Tyme on the Green) we opened the Playhouse Pub, which you can read about HERE.

One of my favorite guest rooms was the Lake Champlain Room with a 4-poster brass bed (from my parents) and new King size mattress!  The room had the original exposed beams and hardwood floors.  It's been remodeled by the new owners and the brass bed is gone (at least from this room).

Fall Visit, October 2001 - "The Golden Girls" (that's my Mom on the right, friend Jan in the center, and cousin Carol on the left).  Besides visiting, they worked - vacuuming, doing dishes, making beds, and helping us "survive" our first Fall Foliage as Vermont Innkeepers.

On May 5, 2004, with 2 cats in my car carrier, I said "so long" to the old Inn (built in 1810 and shown below in the mid 1900's).  It was an experience never to be forgotten.

She's was left in good hands with new owners in May 2004....

Possibly from the 1950's