An Invitation to a Vanderbilt Estate
On a bluff overlooking 100-mile-long Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks beyond, the Inn at Shelburne Farms sits on 1,400 acres designed by the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who laid out New York City’s Central Park.
You’re lord of the manor at the redbrick, Queen Anne-style country mansion, built in 1899 as the largest home in Vermont by Lila Vanderbilt and her husband William Seward Webb. Step into another era of oak paneling, twenty-four massive fireplaces, turrets, towers, family portraits, and twenty-four guest rooms appointed with period and original family-heirloom antiques – you might even be sleeping in William Henry Vanderbilt’s enormous mahogany bed.
The inn’s candle-lit restaurant, grand but cozy, offers a menu that might include roasted rack of New England lamb with apple-sorrel relish, complemented by organic produce direct from Shelburne Farm’s market garden. The farm was conceived by the Webbs and embellished by their great-grand- children as a nonprofit environmental educational center. In addition to being a rural marvel (with a hands-on Children’s Farmyard that’s every kid’s fantasy), it produces an excellent Cheddar cheese, compliments of the Brown Swiss cows grazing within sight. You can sample it to your heart’s content.
A 3-mile drive from the “Big House,” the 45-acre Shelburne Museum comprises a general store, a round bam, a covered bridge, a lighthouse, and thirty-three other historic structures that re-create a 19th-century town.
Long known as New England’s Smithsonian, the museum contains what may be the finest collection of Americana in the country, featuring textiles and quilts, dolls and toys (some 2,000), weather vanes, horse-drawn vehicles – well over 100,000 artifacts in all, plus a collection of works by Rembrandt, Degas, Monet, Manet, and Cassatt.