Middlebury

The Caretaker: For most, his name is unfamiliar. But his handiwork? Chances are, you know it well

There’s not much written about the caretaker.

He works unnoticed; the man behind, often beneath, Bread Loaf. He’s the man who keeps the place, in its crescive yet constant state of decline, consistently static—forever the same. His work, if done well, is always done, and never in the process of doing. It’s always been this way. It’s all always been this way. Right? And while Joe Battell’s name rings true for many, who’s ever heard of John Houston, his right-hand man and Bread Loaf’s first caretaker? He was the man who helped keep up the Inn and build its acreage those first winters; the man who carried blank deeds in his pocket in case he ran across a neighbor willing to sell his land; the man who chopped wood for families in surrounding towns because, well, Battell needed the money.