Stowe, Vermont is a town brimming with postcard-worthy charms. Antique shops and restaurants cluster around the village center with its white steepled church. Historic covered bridges and picture-perfect farmhouses dot the rolling hillsides, with majestic Mt. Mansfield in the distance. A single mountain road connects the village to the fabled ski slopes of Mt. Mansfield at the Stowe Mt. Resort and Smuggler’s Notch (where smugglers once transported illegal or embargoed goods across the Canadian border). Along this same two-lane road and tucked behind gates, a 186-acre property known as “The Estate at Strawberry Hill” has captivated locals ever since the Bedell family built the Vermont farmhouse and barns in 1825.
“The estate is historically registered,” reveals McKee Macdonald, a broker with Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate in Stowe, who recently listed the legendary estate for sale with his mother, Peggy Smith, owner of Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate. “Everyone in town knows about it. Strawberry Hill is just this amazing place. Once you’re invited inside the property, you can’t believe it exists so close to town.”
The mystique surrounding The Estate at Strawberry Hill comes from its unique history and unparalleled sense of privacy. Twin 200-year-old White Pine trees act as a welcome gate to the home. Folklore passed from owner to owner claims that “George and Martha,” two enormous white pine trees that frame the entrance to the home, acted as Wedding Trees in the early 1800s.
Bordering over 258 acres of Stowe Land Trust conserved land, the property is “one of the most private pieces of property in all of Vermont,” notes Smith. Miles of private biking and walking trails, and three magnificent ponds give the estate its romance. A traditional Vermont-style farmhouse with six bedrooms, guest cottage and four outlying buildings — including two pre-Civil War barns, meticulously renovated in 2013 —further add to the rich character permeating the property.
“This is a once-in-a-generation type of property,” says Smith. “The estate has only changed hands four or five times over the centuries, with ownership spanning generations of children.”
When the current owners, the Gershman family, purchased the estate in 1999, the entire property was in need of a makeover. “It was like the aging lady who lives in her once elegant home and does not realize a new age has happened,” recalls Smith. “Given Strawberry Hill’s central location in the middle of Stowe — just five minutes to town and 10 minutes to Stowe Mountain Resort — and nearly 50 acres of extremely rare flat meadow, The Gershmans were able to see what a gem it was right away.”
The family commissioned a team of designers and landsape architects bring it into the present day, while keeping as much of the original Vermont architectural vernacular as possible. They completed the renovation in 2013. The family’s thoughtful restoration earned the recognition of many, including the 2015 Pottery Barn winter catalog.
A die-hard baseball fan, Eric Gershman built a dug out and professional-level baseball field, where locals were often invited to play over the years. He also created an extensive trail network of bridges, single track mountain biking and meandering trails primed for cross country skiing in the winter or riding horses in the summer. His wife Robin, a yoga and exercise enthusiast, made sure to create spaces that allowed her time to shine, like the gym and her personal yoga studio. Subsequent exterior additions reflect their family’s love for entertaining and the outdoors. A beautiful Zen-like pool offers an outdoor shower, changing area and badminton. They also installed a zip line over the pond, a stone fireplace grill, a gazebo with speakers, a dock and a small play house. It’s a place where casual barbecues or more refined events can be hosted with ease.
The 8,300 square-foot interiors are a testament to the understated elegance of the Vermont farmhouse tradition. A spacious, yet open master bedroom with balcony overlooks Mt. Mansfield and the ski area. A mudroom boasts at least 12 heaters for ski boots or regular boots to heat up your boots before you go out in the cold. A music room offers opportunity for entertaining, while everyone is invited to gather around the thoughtfully remodeled kitchen and sitting area. The cathedral living room, graced by a stone fireplace, and an exquisite dining room with fireplace, provide a touch of formality to otherwise relaxed surroundings.
Considering the indoor/outdoor connection, the Gershmans made sure to add doors that open up to a stone patio from the kitchen and dining areas. There is also a barn-style game room with bar, TV and bumper pool.
“This is where you go to be you and shrug off the social restraints of wealth,” says Smith. “You just drive in along the maple lined driveway and you immediately know you belong there. The Estate at Strawberry Hill is the true expression of being comfortable and confident in your own world.”
Guests and family members will see the Estate as their home away from home, and the meticulously rebuilt guest house will enchant them with every modern and beautiful detail. Overlooking the main pond, guests will relish in the quiet privacy and elegant ambience of this special retreat.
“The property is located just five minutes away from the famous Trapp Family Lodge,” adds Macdonald. “In fact, Maria von Trapp was a frequent visitor to this home.”
Zoned for many uses, including a hotel or wellness retreat, The Estate at Strawberry Hill is a landmark in the truest sense, awaiting its next generation of owners.