Stowe Land Trust Brings Historic Mill Trail Cabin Back to Life

Russ Laggner of Little Tree Builders shows where he salvaged and restored the original hand-forged hardware to use on a new door for the cabin.

Stowe, VT. –  Learning about the history of Stowe came alive for Stowe Elementary School fourth graders who visited Stowe Land Trust’s Mill Trail property off of Notchbrook Road last week.  The classes spent time exploring the foundations of an old hill farm and a site where a sawmill and blacksmith’s shop once operated.  But for most, the highlight was visiting property’s historic cabin on which the Land Trust has just completed major renovations after more than two years of work.

The Moravian-style cabin was designed and built by Dr. Marguerite Lichtenthaeler in the 1930’s as rustic accommodations for Stowe’s first tourists who came to enjoy the ski trails of Ranch Valley.  Later used as a private seasonal camp, the cabin had fallen into disrepair by the time the Stowe Land Trust (SLT) acquired the Mill Trail property in 2003.  Recognizing both the historic value and potential future uses for the cabin, SLT sought and received a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to bring it back to life.

Work completed in 2013 stabilized the foundation and floor framing and made major drainage improvements around the structure.  This summer, the building’s windows and doors were repaired or replaced to better weatherize the building and improve its use.   Since the building is protected by a historic preservation easement, all changes from the style of windows and hardware to the color of stain used were carefully planned to maintain the historic character of the building.  On a recent tour, Russ Laggner of Little Tree Builders – who completed much of the restoration work – pointed out the where he had salvaged and restored the original hand-forged hardware to use on the replacement doors.  Wood scraps from the old door weren’t wasted either; they were repurposed in the cabin to close up openings under the rafters.

The cabin is already beginning the next chapter of its life.  The Stowe Land Trust’s Summer Naturalist Program is completing its first season operating out of the cabin and will run until the end of September.  The program engages students and other visitors in learning about the natural and cultural history of the site and the future of conservation in Stowe.  Visitors off all ages can join naturalist, Krista Battles, on a free, family-friendly guided walk leaving from the cabin each Saturday through September at 10:30am and 1:00pm.  Stay tuned for more opportunities to visit the cabin as SLT plans for additional ways to make it available to the community.