Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vermont Welcome Center, Guilford, Vermont


Great rest stops and welcome centers are gifts to visitors and invoke sighs of relief from people returning home.   They are destinations in themselves. The best examples are not interchangeable - they capture some aspect of the spirit of the place.  


One great example is the Vermont Welcome Center on Interstate 91 North.  Rather than a numbing food court, the building is spacious, bright, even inspirational.    It appropriately showcases Vermont goods and destinations and each time we visit, we do not want to leave.



The most striking feature is the building itself.  According to its designer, Vermont Timber Works, the frame is hand hewn native white pine and oak, joined with traditional wooden pegs. 



Even the outbuildings are invigorating.

 
Whether beautiful, crass, or ignored, welcome centers are significant statements made by the communities.  One can simply compare this structure to its New Hampshire doppelgänger, the giant state-run discount liquor outlet, to understand the Judson Hale observation (from Inside New England):
A New Hampshire person will say he or she is "from New England."  A Vermont resident will say "from Vermont."

14 comments:

Ben said...

I am loving all of the wood. I have stopped in some great welcome centers over the years traveling about. I should have kept better notes!

Anonymous said...

The worst thing is stopping at a terrible rest stop and then learning later that there was someplace great if I had just stopped 20 minutes earlier or later.

Lollyg said...

This welcome center is always a treat on our way to visit our Vermont family...it is truly "welcoming"....I am also really enjoying the Judson Hale book...makes me glad to be from New England...

Paul Connors said...

I lived in Burlington, VT in 1989-90 and every time I drove back into the state, and when I return these days, I would stop at the Guilford Welcome Center. Muffy, you are right, this place makes you want to linger and see all that VT has to offer.

Chris from New Hampshire said...

Well, it has been said that Vermont is to Democrats what New Hampshire is to Republicans. Maybe this is what is really reflected in the two examples.

Chris from New England

Melissa said...

ILoVermont!

Haven't been in a few years...but it's one of my favourite states!

CourtneyB said...

Too bad there is no snow! Many a time have I stopped here when heading into Vermont and this rest area is so much more pleasant than others. I laughed when you mentioned New Hampshire's liquor store... I have stopped here a few times as well to stock up for the weekend. Proud New Englander.

Unknown said...

I am terribly jealous. What a lovely welcome center. The rest areas in NJ ( I would hesitate to call them welcome centers) are dismal and uninviting. I would love to forward this post to our Dept. of Transportation and remind them that these places aren't just convenience stops, but set the tone of the state for everyone visiting or passing through.

Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Muffy, I live in stowe Vt and would highly recomend;you spend a weekend here in the fall with your huband. Romance abounds,and memories will be carved into the soul forever. The rest stop you discovered is actually plentiful throught vermont. Several are on rt89 north from stowe exit 10 to burlington. Ps ben and jerrys is exit 10,are you tempted yet???

AJC said...

There's a fantastic eco visitor centre at Cley Marshes, Norfolk (UK), with a living roof and powered by its own wind turbine.

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

I have spent many a spring day hewing beams and replacing trenails with new hand-cut replicas. One year, our host gave us an old Vermont staple: snow-cone with maple syrup and a pickle on the side. Not really filling, and it creates an argument in your lower stomach.

Muffy Aldrich said...

@Patsy - As usual you are correct, and I am familiar with the New Hampshire Welcome Center. It it just that the Liquor Stores seem more salient. (And it gives the excuse to use the always amusing term Discount Liquor!)

Pillar Of Autumn said...

Freedom & Unity? Odd for a state that now actively chases businesses out of it's borders. Nice place to visit (I lived there for 22 years) but there's no real money in the Green Mountain State.

Phyllis Trevor Higgerson, Henhurst Interiors said...

Had to laugh, we've lived in Vermont for almost 20 years and long debated crossing the river for tax benefits but just haven't been able do it. Even my children say they can't be from New Hampshire.
Enjoying your blog very much. When we are not in Vermont when school is in session we are in Newport.
All best,
Phyllis