It’s been hard to miss the arresting sight of the Featherbed Inn barn’s timber frame slowly emerging as the siding has come off over the last month and as the timbers themselves are being removed.
The barn is of the same early 1800s era as is the inn itself, according to Mick Rookwood who owns the Waitsfield inn with his wife Karen Rookwood.
He said deconstructing the barn began about a month ago. Local contractor Matt Sargent and his crew are doing the work. While the barn work got underway this spring, work on this project started last fall when the trees on the back/north side of the barn were cut, the topsoil was removed and a staging area was created.
“We’re dismantling the whole barn and saving and reusing everything that we can. We’re rebuilding it historically and contextually. And we’re digging a full basement where we’re putting a four-bay garage with two bays for cars, one for a workshop and one for storage,” Rookwood said. It will be post and beam construction.
Once that work is done, they will be moving the parking lot from its current location (south of the barn and on the side of the inn where breakfast is served on the porch)
“We serve breakfast out here on the porch and your visual – when we’re full we can have 20 cars in there -- so you’re just looking at the back of a parking lot instead of looking out at the meadow, gazebo, pond, trails and ridge,” he explained.
The building that houses the inn was built in 1806 and the barn is of the same era which makes them the second oldest building in town behind the General Wait House. The barn was in significant structural disrepair and Rookwood said they had to take it down or it was going to fall down. It’s being rebuilt on the same footprint and in the same style.
The Rookwoods purchased the inn in late 2019. He is from London originally and Karen grew up in Connecticut. When they purchased the inn, they’d been living and working near Boston for 30 years, Karen as a hospice and palliative care social worker and Mick in the clean energy space.
They love living with access to the Mad River Riders trails in their backyard and there is a Featherbed Inn Connector on their property that leads up to the Revolution Trail and others in that network.
The barn project should be done by winter and when the space is ready, they are contemplating how it might be used. The main floor will be 1,300 feet of open space with lofts on the two end bays. It will be three-season space that they may use for yoga workshops, art workshops, music events, kids’ camps, etc.