An Historic Vermont Inn with a Built-in Museum and Underground Tunnels (Yes, You Read that Right)

Rest and relaxation is all we desire on a vacation, and you’ll find it at the Hartness House. Located a short drive from NYC (about five hours or so) to Springfield, Vermont, where the trees are tinted with red, yellow, and orange and only the sound of undulating gales will escort you inside this historical inn. Owned by the 58th governor of the Green Mountain State, James Hartness was a character who had his hands in many pots. He was a business executive, inventor, mechanical engineer, and most notably — which feels a bit unnerving to note in a list of this stature —an amateur astronomer (I’ll get to that part of my visit soon enough).

I rolled up from the stretch of mountain at the south from Massachusetts, which included a brunch detour at Smith College to visit a friend – and the quaint town of Springfield, which I visited this past summer during a retreat with Wild Trail Farms. I got a bit lost on my way, pulling into the neighbor’s yard, who kindly guided me to only about fifty feet away to the inn hidden behind a canopy of oak. Driving super slow, I found my way to the back of the inn where its additions were located. This was to be my home-sweet-home for the next couple of days, so I unloaded my bags and shuffled up to the door, following the detailed instructions sent via email (which is amazing for those of us who don’t want to interact after driving a few hundred miles).

Punching in the code, I was able to let myself in and found my way to the Hotel King Room. It was a room reminiscent of a china cup with its white and blue accents and sentimental New England touches, such as of portraits of greenery and patterned pillows. I dropped my bags on to the chair in the corner and promptly flopped on to the bed, falling asleep. Not glamorous, but it was probably one of the best sleep sessions I had, considering it was the start of my Fall break.

Once I awoke, I explored more of the room… The desk to my left was an ideal study place for essay drafting and watching Netflix shows I have missed over the course of the season. The armchairs and floor lamps offered a homespun area for reading novels with a cup of tea without distraction.

To my right was a sliding door that led to views of nature, such as crows galavanting with bluebirds and squirrels stuffing their cheeks for a lengthy hibernation.

After a few minutes of soaking in all of the peace and quiet, it was time to shower. I pulled out my bag of soaps, lotions, and skincare as I ran a hot shower. The bathroom was a major upgrade from what my university was offering. From this point on, I spent time around town hiking, getting a manicure, and checking out local bites.

One of the managers, Nina, emailed me to gauge my interest in attending a history tour with Tyler, the other manager of the property.

I met up with Tyler and the group of other travelers in the main lobby of the home.

I have to mention that this part of the home felt as though history was ever-present, since it featured a vintage typewriter, old-timey phone, and stacks of books in cabinets. Tyler began the tour, and we made our way down to a small doorway. He detailed the most interesting facts about James Hartness and his obsession with the stars as we followed him through the underground tunnels. I snapped photos and honestly, was not sure what to expect. What I found was even more surprising…
A little museum dedicated to astronomy and works from Mr. Hartness’ personal passion projects.

Once we all had our fill of knowledge we made headway to the telescope observatory.

The telescope did not work at that moment, but Tyler explained that different astronomy groups would come to the inn and observe the celestial bodies above once a year. “It got pretty busy!” he proclaimed. As a star lover (though in a more metaphysical way), I approved.

Afterwards I spent some time reading in the parlor while sipping tea. Truly the simplest of pleasures. The Hartness House is a place where many areas of life – from history, science, art, and humanity – converge under one roof in the sleepy town of Springfield. I recommend a visit for those seeking something off the beaten path that takes you through the twists and turns of the eclectic state of affairs in the home of the 58th governor of your-soon-to-be-favorite-state, Vermont.