Mad River Barn

Mad River Barn

STORY BY Martin Swant PHOTOGRAPHY BY Michelle Gustafson

  200 PAGES PERFECT BOUND 4 COLOR LITHO PRINTING FSC APPROVED PAPER PRINTED IN CANADA

 

200 PAGES
PERFECT BOUND
4 COLOR LITHO PRINTING
FSC APPROVED PAPER
PRINTED IN CANADA

 
©MichelleGustafsonPhotography_COLLECTIVEQUARTERLYLOWRES-837.jpg

The Mad River Barn Inn and Restaurant might be better described by what it isn’t than by what it is. It’s not a quiet B&B in the mountains. It’s not a romantic hideout. It’s not white tablecloth dining.


 

Located at the base of the Appalachian Gap mountain pass, it is a construct of juxtapositions. Host to skiing families, hiking friends, and hungry locals, it’s a living room full of strangers. It’s where the beers of Vermont meet the farms of Vermont, and the people of Vermont come for both.

Successful careers in the software industry led Mad River Barn owners Andrew and Heather Lynds to a dozen places in the U.S. and internationally, but a few years ago they beg an searching for somewhere more settled to raise their son. They wanted to find a home where they felt they could fit. The highly educated, environmentally aware, socially conscious, and community-oriented people of the Mad River Valley won them over.

While this is the couple’s first restaurant, their story actually began in one two decades ago.They met in 1993 during the first shift at a sports bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After getting off work, they drove around town and by the end of the evening had decided to get married. Three years later, they did. “It kind of feels like we ended up full circle,” Heather Lynds says. “Our environment here in a lot of ways resembles our environs where we met.”

The barn’s story, meanwhile, goes like this: Originally a bunkhouse for the Civilian Conservation Corps, it was eventually converted to an inn in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The property reportedly changed hands three times before the Lynds bought it on New Year’s Eve 2012.

In the past two-plus years, the Mad River Barn has undergone intricate renovations to increase energy efficiency while preserving its history. To salvage the design and reuse as much as possible, the Lynds hired designer Joanne Palmisano, who worked with the couple to imagine new uses for older materials. Copper pipes became curtain rods. Bedsprings became lighting fixtures.

“We didn’t want to take all this really cool stuff and throw it away to end up with a building that felt sterile and new,” Heather Lynds says.“We wanted it to appeal to people of our generation.”


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DO:

In Vermont, outdoor activities span all four seasons. Downhill ski, cross-country ski, and snowshoe in the winter. Head to Warren Falls in the spring and summer for boulder jumping and water-hole swimming, a traditional state pastime. Hike America’s oldest long-distance trail, fittingly named the Long Trail. Traverse meadows and streams while riding horses from Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm. Travel to the Yestermorrow Design/Build School to learn how to create your own table, bench, or entire house. And don’t forget about another year-round sport: brewery tours.

EAT:

The menu has a sophistication belied by the restaurant’s friendly hustle and bustle. Food from local farms match the vibe of the valley; favorites include the Vermont maple chicken with Vermont goat cheese mashed potatoes, the duck confit with apple chutney, and the signature Mad River Barn Burger with BBQ bacon glazed onions on a house-made pretzel bun. When it’s time for dessert, thank the trees for maple crème brûlée.

DRINK:

The menu has a sophistication belied by the restaurant’s friendly hustle and bustle. Food from local farms match the vibe of the valley; favorites include the Vermont maple chicken with Vermont goat cheese mashed potatoes, the duck confit with apple chutney, and the signature Mad River Barn Burger with BBQ bacon glazed onions on a house-made pretzel bun. When it’s time for dessert, thank the trees for maple crème brûlée.

SLEEP:

The heart of everything is the barn, which houses the restaurant, pub, and game room along with eight guest rooms. Mad River Barn also offers sleeping quarters in its farmhouse and hostel. Sizes of the 18 guest rooms vary: Some family-style rooms sleep up to six; other, smaller spaces sleep just two.