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Renovations on Middlebury's Bread Loaf Inn are completed and the building is ready for students.

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Completed Inn Renovations Await Bread Loaf Students, Faculty

June 12, 2015

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Renovations at Middlebury's Bread Loaf Inn in Ripton are complete and the results are impressive. Although the historic building still retains its charm and character, it has been transformed into a fully winterized, accessible building. With a dining hall, main office, and residential rooms, the inn is a central hub of activity for the Bread Loaf School of English, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and numerous other conferences and events. 

On a recent guided tour, architect Steve Smith, from the firm Smith-Alvarez-Sienkiewycz, noted that some of the most dramatic changes are not visible when you walk in. For instance, Smith says, almost every floor and wall finish was removed to install new electrical wiring, data, and insulation. Uneven floors were reframed and sagging window and door headers replaced. New efficient heating and cooling systems were installed in the basement, which is now dry and suitable for storage.

Smith says the project was not a restoration in the true sense since the building has been built in increments over many years. However, they did make an effort to be historically accurate when possible.

"We reviewed the project with the state division of historic preservation and agreed to restore the outside, including windows," said Smith. “We tried to retain a historic flavor, but upgrade the building so it works for the College now.”

Students and faculty will notice right away the beautifully refinished floors throughout, new lighting, paint, and ceiling fans. Bedrooms are newly furnished with LED lighting and ceiling fans (where they fit). They'll also find an elevator, which makes the building fully accessible.

"We do a lot of renovations, historic and otherwise, but rarely do we see the kind of transformation that we saw with this building," said Smith. "It looks the same on the outside, but the inside transformation surprised even us."

Reporting and slide show by Stephen Diehl; Photography by Brett Simison

7 Comments

Great Restoration of a that historic building! Having spent 4 summers as Head Waiter, while attending the BLSchool of English, and numerous Alumni College sessions, my wife and I have wonderful memories of times spent on campus, and of many scrumptuous meals, conversations with Doc Cook, John Berryman, Moses Hadas, Carlos Baker, Paul Cubeta, and Robert Frost! That is the legacy of Bread Loaf, and may it continue to fluorish!

by Don Woodworth, ... (not verified)

I worked for three summers with the buildings and grounds crew at Bread Loaf in the late eighties. What an amazing restoration! I'm so excited for those who get to use it in the future, particularly the kitchen staff. The food service upgrades look magnificent! Great job.

by Paul Baldwin (not verified)

Having worked there many weekends in college, I always try to stay there when I come to Vermont. Looking forward to another trip!

by Mary McBride (not verified)

Looks great, nice and bright and clean but in the bedroom photos I don't see any reading lamps on the bedside tables. I hope the pictures were taken before those were provided and that indeed there will be some!

by Judy Roesset (not verified)

I was one of the two people who ran the coffee shop in The Barn the summers of 1958-59. Everyone knew us of course and just walking to work people curled up on those wicker sofas and chairs would look up and say "hi Mike." I took my late partner there in 1989. Walking through the barn was like being a ghost. Those people were still there, looking just the same, but no one looked up and even smiled! "Thou only, oh Caesar, age. the crowd in the Appian way stays always the same," G. B. Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra. The barn, too, looked even more EXACTLY the same. I trust it still does have that same "feel" whatever may have been done to it. I'd still like to go back just one more time.

by Michael Pulman (not verified)

It's hard to believe that this beautifully transformed facility is the same place where I spent the summer of 1953! I worked in the kitchen as a pot and pan washer. The kitchen staff consisted of Althea DeGray, Chief Cook, Jerry DeGray, Assistant Cook, and my friend Harry Daniels, "vegetable boy". Jerry, Harry, and I stayed in the barn with Carl Cram, who worked in the storeroom, and Ed Winn who was in charge of the snack bar in the barn. Robert Frost and I came to know each other on a first-name basis. What a thrill for a teenager. Little did I know that I would re-visit Bread Loaf decades later as the father of Jean Hudson Card, a Middlebury College graduate, class of 1994.

by Dave Hudson (not verified)

Kudos to the contract/builder Naylor & Breen for their on time delivery of a great finished product!

by neil (not verified)

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