Manchester & the Mountains New Welcome Center
Have you been to the new Visitor Welcome Center for the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce? I pass by it all the time, at 39 Bonnet Street
in Manchester Center, but it wasn’t until I had an invitation to visit from Berta Maginniss, Executive Director for the Chamber, that I finally stepped through the door. As I stood exclaiming over how beautiful the new space is, she remarked, “The motivation for a location in the
center of town was to welcome an increased number of guests and to educate them on the assets of our region so they would stay
longer, come more frequently and perhaps make Manchester and the Mountains home — and it is coming true!” Berta added that visits have increased a staggering 400% from January through July of this year, compared to the same time period last year at the old location. Guest calls for area information and visits to the Chamber website have also increased.
It may come as no surprise that the Chamber assists guests with information on the region, including lodging, dining, attractions, cultural events, recreation and retail venues, but you don’t need to be a visitor; there are things for residents and second home owners, too, like information on local schools, resources and events. Maps for hiking and biking are available.
When developer Bill Drunsic bought the 1800s building, it was gutted and moved 40 feet north to a new foundation before Vermont Traditional Builders began the reconstruction. Original beams were retained wherever possible; they frame the cathedral ceiling and lend a rustic appeal to the open and sunlit space. Marble and rock from the property were repurposed into the walkways, patio and entry area. Berta says she worked with McBride Design on the décor and, purchased most of the furnishings locally.
One of the first things you might notice when you enter is the kayak tucked up in the rafters. There’s also a nod to skiers and cyclists in the decor, with bikes, skis and snowshoes adorning the walls. Art on loan from Arthur Jones, several pieces from Lyman Orton’s collection and rotating works by artisians from Epoch 18 are on display. Shelves custom built by Bill Laberge of Dorset, full of brochures, are 15 feet in length. Two sitting rooms, furnished with comfortable furniture, and a patio, constructed of white marble from the Danby Quarry, entice one to linger. And with a helpful staff, freshly brewed coffee, wireless internet and three plasma screen televisions, who wouldn’t? For those needing meeting space, a second floor conference room is available by appointment during normal working hours.
This was all made possible through presenting sponsors Bromley, Equinox, Hildene, Stratton and Vermont Country Store, with supporting sponsors, Josiah Allen Real Estate, Equipe Sport, I Ship Express, H.N. Williams Store, The Inn at Manchester, Manchester Journal, Spiral Press, Perfect Wife, Wilburton Inn and Vermont Renewable Fuels.
When I asked Berta how the move went, she told me everything was packed in over 75 color coded bins; blue to the basement, red to the first floor and yellow to the second floor. They didn’t have to move any furnishings, since they were all purchased new, which made the move a bit less complicated. But once they were in the new space, they had to jump right into decorating for the holidays, including a 14-foot Christmas tree!
I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you as VNG’s new Editor. If you know of a unique experience, an interesting place or a local personality, I hope you will share it with me at [email protected]