The house is an 1886 Queen Anne Victorian built by the prosperous Shelburne Vermont merchant Cyrus Van Vliet in 1886.
Mr. Van Vliet purchased the land for the house from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1885. The house was built in the Queen Anne style and includes 16 rooms and the typical piazza wrapping around the front of the house.
Elaborate for its day, the house included gum wood wainscoting, a paneled staircase, and a cistern to collect rainwater. A pump and gravity system was also installed and brought water to the ground-floor bathroom and hall sink. Some say the house had the first flush-toilet in town – located in the cellar!
Other features considered
extravagant for the time
included the English tiles
around the fire grate in the
library and locally manufactured
wooden blinds. These beautiful
features remain well preserved
in the library of the Inn today.
Mr. Van Vliet also constructed a large barn, stable, carriage house, icehouse and workshop on the property. In 1915, the Van Vliets sold the property to Dr. Walter H. Ranks, who later deeded the property to his daughter and her husband, Helen and Rene Gadue. The Gadues lived in the house until their deaths within ten days of each other in the mid 1990s. The Gadue’s children decided to split the property into three parcels – the house and carriage barn which comprise the Heart of the Village Inn, and the two houses to the South and East of the Inn. The first owners and creators of Heart of the Village Inn, Bobbe Maynes and Pam Pierce, bought the property from the Gadue’s children in 1996.
Bobbe and Pam renovated the property into a nine room inn – adding private baths, a full sprinkler system and various other upgrades to electrical and plumbing systems. The house is nearly in its original footprint and much effort was made to maintain the house and Barn with as much historic integrity as possible. Bathrooms were created out of small rooms between other bedrooms or from closets, and the owner’s quarters were made from a wonderful old attic with interesting nooks and crannies.
The Carriage Barn was built a year later than the house in 1887. It was built on a pile of stones for a foundation, as many barns were in those days. As part of the renovation, the building was raised 30 inches off its original foundation so a slab foundation could be poured. During that very careful raising, only a few of the original slates on the roof were lost and many of the people in town watched all day as the barn was lifted. The design of the rooms was purposefully created to show the unique two “v” trusses which support the barn. The original barn door was insulated and retrofitted with windows. The secondary barn door on the ell of the barn was sold, and when the Historic Preservation folks found out about the sale, they suggested the owners repurchase and install it in the Shelburne Room in order to continue preservation of the inn’s unique heritage.
The footprint of the perennial garden is the original one and appears to have been planted so that it could be enjoyed from the dining room windows. A new garden was planted in 2000. Several older plants were found that could be reused and the phlox, which was taking over the garden, was given to various Shelburne neighbors. The beautiful hydrangeas around the porch are very old, probably planted by Helen Gadue in the 1950's. The small annual garden, gazing ball and bench were added in 2007.
Pam Pierce sold her partnership in the Inn to Bobbe Maynes in 1999 and Stevie Spaulding, then assistant innkeeper, joined Bobbe in the business as an Innkeeper. Pat Button acquired Heart of the Village Inn from Bobbe and Stevie and their business partners in July of 2003.
Geoff and Maureen Conrad purchased the Inn on May 17, 2007. For them, owning the Heart of the Village was a dream come true. Alas, they eventually returned to New Jersey and the Inn remained vacant for an extended period of time.
In early 2011 the property was purchased by Bill & Lucy Helstowski and Shelburne residents Chris Lothrop. After undertaking extensive renovations -- both inside and out -- they re-opened the Inn in May 2011.