Updated: Feb 1, 2022
We try to still Ramble around a bit even when we’re at home. In fact, we often remind ourselves that where we live (in Vermont) is a place that is on lots of other folks’ one of these days lists. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
A place we visit often, and yet never fails to astonish is Shelburne Farms. In 1886, Vanderbilt heiress Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb and her husband Dr. William Seward Webb (people had such complicated names back then) decided to create a 3800-acre agricultural estate for their family and friends to enjoy on the shores of Lake Champlain. Nestled between the high peaks of the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains of Vermont, it is already a stunning piece of property. But, with money being no object, they wisely retained landscape architect to the stars Frederick Law Olmsted to turn that beauty into something even more magnificent. Olmsted was already world famous for designing New York’s Central Park, The U.S. Capitol Grounds, Mont Royal in Montreal, and I think The Garden of Eden, though I would suggest that you fact check this last one.
Olmsted’s vision was for the visitor or wanderer to continually experience a new vista or perspective as they moved around the property. He was successful in this as evidenced by the fact that we’ve been walking there for close to twenty years and Lori still isn’t sure where we are most of the time.
It really does have that magical, fairy-tale feel of the great parks of Europe.
The many “barns” and buildings are similarly works of art having been designed RH Robertson. If you’ve been to New York, you’ve seen his stuff. This is architecture meant to rival its surroundings.
The property was donated to the public in 1984 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2001.
Today, in addition to enjoying the natural beauty, visitors can get married at the Inn (or just have lunch), buy cheese and dairy products made from the cows and sheep kept on the farm, enjoy fresh baked bread at the bakery, and ogle a wide range of adorable baby farm animals every spring; something Lori never fails to insist we stop by the Farm Barn to do on our walks.
We usually walk, but if you prefer, you can probably tour the estate by miniature donkey as these people elected to do.