On Huckle Hill in Vernon sits a lost Vermont ski area that closed 50 years ago. Pine Top ski area operated between the 1940s and 1960s with three rope tows and four trails. With a vertical drop of 400 feet, Pine Top offered terrain for novice, intermediate and expert skiers on trails that were named Tobey Slope, Stoddard Run, Pelley Hill and Tiny Tot. Ski tickets were sold for a couple bucks a piece.
Pine Top is no more, but its story continues to be told at Vermont Woods Studios in Vernon.
Vermont Woods Studios now makes its home at the old Pine Top ski area to showcase its Vermont handcrafted furniture products in a restored, 19th-century farmhouse that once lodged skiers and visitors. Since the 1800s, the property has been known as Stonehurst. Prior to Pine Top, Stonehurst was a girls summer boarding house and later became a private residence before becoming the headquarters for Vermont Woods Studios in 2013.
Inside the farmhouse — where you’ll find beautiful tables, chairs and beds handcrafted from cherry, maple, walnut and red oak — are old Pine Top wooden signs, vintage brochures and black and white photographs. Along the 109-acre property is a former blacksmith shop and warming hut, an old restaurant foundation and trails.
The Woods of Pine Top Ski Area
What makes the 109-acre setting so special is Vermont Woods Studios’ commitment to raise environmental awareness and to make the old ski area — named after a pine tree — an example of true sustainable forestry.
The company only works with Vermont furniture makers who use green production processes and participate in forest sustainability. Many of the furniture makers are small, family owned operations, while others have grown over the years into larger manufacturers. Still, Vermont Woods Studios works to provide gifted independent furniture makers, who are unable to afford conventional marketing channels, access to the fine furniture market.
On a Mission to Make a Connection
In the woods beyond the farmhouse showroom are trails visitors can explore to learn more about plant species, trees, and the property’s history. Eventually, Vermont Woods Studios hopes to mark some of the trails to call out special features, such as Vermont’s tallest Sassafras tree, which sits on the property.
“I’m trying to make this a place where we can raise awareness about forest conservation,” says founder and CEO Peggy Farabaugh, a former distance learning instructor at Tulane University with a master’s degree in environmental health and safety.
After losing her job at Tulane when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Farabaugh started Vermont Woods Studios with her husband as an online venture. When the couple purchased the old Pine Top ski area property two years ago to establish a furniture gallery at Stonehurst, Farabaugh saw it as an opportunity to showcase the connection between forests, wood furniture, and sustainable practices.
A Walk Through the Forest
This summer, for example, the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association visited Stonehurst as part of the “From Forest to Furniture” tour. Farabaugh and a local forester led a group of 20 people around the property, where there are maple, red oak, cherry, pine and hemlock trees.
The group toured trails and talked about sustainable land management and best practices for harvesting. Farabaugh says the public is always welcome to visit the property and explore the grounds.
“I always wanted to work in conservation, and I want visitors to see the forest here,” Farabaugh says. “Maybe this is something I can do to make a difference. Even if it’s a drop in the bucket, it’s something.”