opportunity for new cohousing in Vermont
From: Rebecca Reid (rreidcohousing.com)
Date: Sat, 25 Dec 2010 04:17:54 -0800 (PST)
This was posted on the Pioneer Valley Cohousing internal list-anyone out there interested?

Rebecca Reid
Pioneer Valley

Dear Neighbors -

You may have heard of the inn known as "Johnny Seesaw's" that Alan's
parents and aunt and uncle ran from 1938 to 1976.  The place is up for
sale as the present owner would like to retire.  We are nervous about
this - the neighboring ski area, Bromley Mountain, has a history of
buying up nearby properties for future development and letting the
buildings rot away.  Several decades ago they bought the farm that
surrounds the inn, and nothing but the cellar holes now remain of the
homestead, fine barn, and caretaker's house that were once there.

The inn has quite a history.  It is listed on the National Register of
Historic Places - Paula wrote the nominating documents for it several
years ago.  The main building was built, of logs, in 1924, in the
style of a Russian izba.  The builder was a Russian immigrant, Ivan
Sesow, known as Johnny, hence the name.  He ran it as a roadhouse and
dance hall for loggers working in the area, and eventually lost it in
bankruptcy.  Revived as the inn, it played quite a role in the
development of downhill skiing in the U.S.  The National Ski Patrol
and the famed Tenth Mountain Division of the U.S. Army (originally ski
troops) arose from conversations among ski enthusiasts sitting round
the fireplace in the early years.  The Tenth broke through the German
defenses during the drive up through Italy during WW II by scaling
cliffs at night.  The Germans thought it couldn't be done, and didn't
leave their position well enough defended.

The inn has been listed with Sotheby's for about a year. (Paste
www.phoenixbusinessproperties.com/Print.cfm?ID=6098 into your browser
to see the listing.)   We gather from the present owner there have
been a few nibbles but no offers.  Folks interested in getting into
the hotel business probably want something more modern that would take
less effort to run, and, of course, the economy is down.  So we've
been thinking about how else the property could be used.  One idea is
that it would make a nearly ready made cohousing community.  The main
building has a 30' x 60' great room with a remarkable circular
fireplace in the middle and another stone fireplace at one end, dining
room, and restaurant kitchen.  There are four cottages, each with 2 to
4 bedrooms and sitting room that could be converted to units, another
building, now the owner's home, that could become a couple of units,
and perhaps another half dozen units could be built in the upstairs
and wings of the main building.  There are ~7 acres of land.  It is
offered at $1.35 million, and would take quite a lot more to renovate
and convert.

It seems a bit far-fetched that there would be a group of cohousers
that might be interested in that particular area (halfway between
Manchester and Londonderry VT on route 11, about an hour and 45 minute
drive from here) but, who knows?  Anyway, if you know of anyone who
might be interested, we'd like to talk to them.

If not a community, there may be other "out of the box" uses of the
property, such as a camp or conference center.  We'll pass on any good
ideas to the owner.

Regards,
Alan & Paula


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