Visit our gallery—Art Gallery at Simon Pearce—in Quechee, Vermont.
Our art gallery, in partnership with glassmaker Simon Pearce in Quechee, Vermont, is where we feature paintings, sculpture, and ceramics. We show a selection of my oil paintings as well as bronze sculptures by Peter France, sculptural vessels by Stephen Procter, and ceramics by Lori Pease. We also have a small bookstore where we sell art books and journals.
For several decades, starting in the early 1800s, the gallery space was home to the village general store, which sold everything a Vermont family might need. Later, it became the local post office, where townspeople picked up their mail and packages and conversed on the wide front steps. Today, the gallery is known for sensitive and minimalist installations of fine art and its calm atmosphere. Located near the majestic Ottauquechee River, directly across the street from the country’s foremost glassmaker, the art gallery is a perfect place to visit after lunch at the Simon Pearce restaurant.
Plan your visit to Vermont
Visitors to our art gallery in Quechee often ask me where to get a good cup of coffee, where to go for a nice walk, where to have the best lunch, where to find interesting things to see, where to shop for local artisans’ work, or where to have the most delicious dinner. I start by offering my short list of favorite places in and around Woodstock.
1760 Quechee Main Street, Quechee, 802 295 2711
Simon Pearce is a designer and maker of functional, handmade glassware. Visitors to his workshop can watch glassblowers make a wine glass, bowl, candleholder, or vase. Making high-quality glass requires skill and years of experience. Each day, each glassblower concentrates on one design, making many pieces of the same design in one day. Visitors who watch them work tend to agree: the process is mesmerizing.
The workshop is located in an old mill on the Ottauquechee River, the same river that meanders through nearby Woodstock. Just outside the workshop, visitors can step out onto a balcony that overlooks a waterfall. The force of this water turns a turbine, and the power that is generated from it fuels the glass furnaces. Upstairs is a store where the products of Pearce’s designs are attractively displayed. Everything offered is related to the tabletop, which includes pottery made by Simon Pearce potters, flatware, and a selection of table linens to complement the glassware.
Take a walk through Woodstock’s downtown village
Due to Woodstock’s preserved historic character, the village is one of the loveliest in the country. What is not immediately noticeable is the absence of unsightly electric lines and telephone cables, which are buried throughout the town center in order to enhance uninterrupted views of the beautiful tree-lined streets and of many of its historic houses and civic buildings.
A gentle walk, any time of day, offers a glimpse into the pride and care that many homeowners take to maintain their historic homes and gardens. I love to look for details: the noble architectural columns of a doorway, the warmth of old brick facades, the romantic carved wooden cornices above six-over-six windows, the tall stone-capped chimneys, charming stone walls, and white-painted picket fences, the colorful flowers in perennial gardens and in window boxes, all of which can be seen from the sidewalk.
There are many ways to explore the village, but one design-inspired walk I like to take is to start on Elm Street and walk down the gentle hill to the iron bridge for a view along the Ottauquechee River. Then left onto River Street to see the many white clapboard-sided houses, right on Mountain Avenue to discover some unique fences and gardens, all the way past Faulkner Park, left on River Street for a view of the river, right on Mountain Avenue to cross one of Vermont’s most photographed covered bridges, and finally to make a loop around the magnificent Village Green. The same walk throughout the seasons seems to never tire my curiosity.
54 Elm Street, Woodstock, 802 457 3368
The visions, plans, and actions of three families dedicated to land conservation visibly unfold in one of Vermont’s most inspiring houses, gardens, and woodland parks, today a historical site cared for by the National Park Service. It is the earliest surviving example of planned and managed reforestation in the United States and illustrates the impact that the women and men from these families had on forging a greater environmental consciousness and in preserving and cherishing natural beauty.
Inside the mansion, there is an extensive art collection that includes pastoral landscape paintings by artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, John Frederick Kensett, and Robert Crannell Minor. The library is filled with beautifully bound volumes of literature, poetry, reference works, and writing on the environmental movement. Touring the rooms, visitors are able to see the evolution of this former private home that is still filled with many personal effects as it was left by Mary and Laurance Rockefeller in the 1990s.
Outside the mansion are formal gardens that provide scents from an impressive collection of roses and perennial and annual flowers. Walks around the house and gardens lead to trails in Billings Park and on Mount Tom that offer spectacular scenic views of the forest and surrounding hills.
69 Old River Road, Woodstock, 802 457 2355
Billings Farm & Museum was established in 1983 by Mary and Laurance Rockefeller. The farm remains today a working dairy and home to a fine herd of Jersey cows, as it was created by Frederick and Julia Billings in 1871. The museum, through its historic timeline and exhibition of farm and farmhouse objects, tells the stories of Vermont’s rural heritage, focusing on nineteenth-century agricultural traditions such as haying, dairying, sugaring, and cheese making. The farm manager’s house is a fine example of historic preservation and offers a fascinating interpretation of the multitude of activities that occurred under one roof: farm management, as seen in the original office; family living, as seen in the parlor, dining room, kitchen, and pantry; and butter production in the basement creamery, which used the milk of the Billings Jersey herd.
Throughout the year, relevant contemporary stories are told, shared, and brought to life through educational and special programs for all ages. The farm also features draft horses, heritage-breed chickens, Southdown sheep, and Berkshire pigs. There are special exhibitions, such as the annual quilt show, which highlights the historical context and artistic expression of this traditional storytelling craft.
102 Mill Road, Bridgewater, 802 672 5175
A few miles west of Woodstock in a big old mill in Bridgewater are the workshops of furniture maker Charles Shackleton and potter Miranda Thomas, where the atmosphere is casual, welcoming, and brimming with creative energy. Visitors to the pottery can watch a potter transform a block of clay on a rotating wheel into a bowl or a vase or see Thomas hand carve a dinner plate with an intricate tree of life pattern before firing it in the kiln. In an adjacent building, amidst the aromas of wood shavings and finishing oils, visitors can watch Shackleton and his master craftsmen make fine tables, chairs, dressers, and beds with careful precision and hand-finished details.
Shackleton and Thomas are true artists who are keen to articulate the unique nature of each piece they create through essential design, materials, and craftsmanship. The final products of their creative expressions are handsomely displayed in their workshop store, a showroom where the museum-quality work of both artists is creatively integrated.
Explore the parks and walks
The benefits for the body and mind from taking a good walk are commonly known. What is uncommon to many communities is a vast system of wonderfully maintained trails such as in Woodstock. Billings Park, Faulkner Park, Mount Peg Park, and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park provide walkers, joggers, and hikers miles of interconnected pathways and trails through hundreds of acres of meadows, woodlands, and mountain peaks, all easily accessible from the village.
Miles of gentle carriage roads and trails allow individuals on foot easy access to the natural beauty, diversity, and serenity of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Climb to the summit of Mount Tom in Billings Park for stunning views of the village below, as well as of miles of surrounding hills and unspoiled countryside. Along the way, native and mixed tree species fill the woodlands; emerald green ferns carpet the floor; wildflowers color the grassy fields; old stone walls, bridges, and archways line the carriage roads. On these trails, it is easy to feel far away and immersed in nature, yet the proximity of this generous network to the center of Woodstock is one of the great rewards of living in or visiting the community.
61 Central Street, Woodstock, 802 457 7467
In this intimate twenty-two-seat restaurant, Matt Lombard and chef Nick Laurendeau make sure that every guest at their tables has a good dining experience, and their careful attention to every detail is apparent through the understated simplicity of the elegant décor, comfortable seats, and wooden tables, choice of dinnerware and glassware, and most importantly through the passionately delivered creative and diverse cuisine. On any given night, the menu is not extensive; that is intentional. It is a dialed-in tasting menu that changes weekly and with the seasons. Beers and cocktails also change with the seasons. The wine list is personal and innovative, with selections from around the world.
At Mangalitsa, fresh and local take on tangible meaning. Fresh can mean fish flown in that morning from New Zealand or herbs picked from a kitchen garden just before dinner. Local can mean ingredients supplied by a specialty producer in a nearby town or the wild ingredients that Matt or Nick foraged that morning. And then there is the flavorful pork that is occasionally served. It comes from the highly special Mangalitsa, a rare Hungarian breed that Matt raises at his nearby farm, which produces meat so flavorful, with such beautiful marbled fat, that he named the restaurant after it. Be sure to make a reservation.