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September 5, 2018

Retreat opens with tribute to family

By Katy Savage

WOODSTOCK—Over a bridge and up a long, private driveway, a 1700s farmhouse sits alone among hills of green grass. There are private mountain biking and hiking trails out the front door and a private swimming pond with beach to the side.

This 186-acre property is special to Stacey Gerrish, who inherited it after her grandmother, a potter and sculptor, died in 2015.

This is where Gerrish grew up and where she got married.

“I always felt really connected to it,” Gerrish said.

Now, Gerrish is sharing it.

Gerrish has turned the property into a retreat called Leading Fields.

While there is a worldwide increase in violence and uncertainty, Gerrish wanted to offer the home to as a place for people to find solace.

By Katy Savage Stacey Gerrish stands with “A Tribute to Time,” a sculpture her grandmother built on her property in Woodstock. The sculpture stands at the hightest point of the property, with views of Mount Mansfield.

By Katy Savage
Stacey Gerrish stands with “A Tribute to Time,” a sculpture her grandmother built on her property in Woodstock. The sculpture stands at the hightest point of the property, with views of Mount Mansfield.

The property is the only house on a long, private road. The only outside noises come from the chirping of birds or leaves rustling in the wind. Sunlight shines through a pair of trees in the front yard.

“There aren’t many places left that exist where you can find that,” said Gerrish.

Gerrish, who lives in Colorado and works in the ski industry, spent the summer renovating the bedrooms and bathrooms, moving furniture and working on the landscape design for Leading Fields.

David Sawyer, of Killington, who has spent 30 years working on the property, built the private mountain biking and hiking trails for all ability levels this summer. Gerrish also built a labyrinth for meditation groups.

“It’s really turned into a labor of love,” Gerrish said.

Gerrish is the daughter of Kurt Gerrish, who owned Gerrish Honda in Lebanon until he sold it about a year ago. She said Leading Fields is a tribute to her family.

Gerrish’s grandparents bought this land in 1965.

The property became a place of comfort for them after loss. Gerrish’s grandmother Barbara Kaufman built a large three-piece sculpture called “A Tribute to Time” for her son who died in 1974 and placed it at the highest point of the property, where the blue peak of Mount Washington can be seen in the far distance.

The property and the sculpture became even more important after their daughter, (Gerrish’s mother) Christine “Tina” Kaufman Thompson,a devoted equestrian, died of cancer in 2007, at age 63.

Gerrish’s grandfather Ralph Kaufman taught Gerrish as a child to be a steward of the land, to take care of the trees and stonewalls. Now, Gerrish is carrying that with her. The property is littered with family memories and decorated with Barbara Kaufman’s sculptures.

Gerrish grew closer with her grandmother after her mother died. Barbara Kaufman lived to be 98 and spent every day walking around the property until she died.

Gerrish plans to expand the trails for cross country skiing. She’s named the trails after her mother’s horses.
She’s hosted yoga groups, cooking classes and forest bathers—citydwellers looking to escape. The property has special meaning to friends and neighbors.

“It’s like utopia for us,” Elisa Sawyer of Killington said. “I think her grandmother would be really proud.”

More about the retreat can be found here.

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