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The Varnum House

The Victorian House Gallery

Built in 1878, the Varnum House Gallery is a unique example of Victorian architecture in small town Vermont. The house itself was constructed by Harvey Varnum, a local businessman and philanthropist who was an advocate for the creation of Smuggler’s Notch pass. 


The property has been lovingly restored over its twenty year ownership by the Shaws and now welcomes guests in the front salon. Jane's love for restoration has been beautifully expressed through her care for the home, and the space now has many purposes as a gallery, tattoo parlor, and home to the Visions founders. Terry and Jane also frequent the sprawling porch along Main Street throughout the summer, so don't be afraid to stop in and say hello. You may be rewarded with tales of Jeffersonville history from Jane herself.

The below was a speech given at the 2014 Memorial Day services in Jeffersonville, VT by Todd Paton, Director of Visitor Services at The Rock of Ages Quarry, Barre, VT.

We meet here together today to honor those who have given their lives in service to this great Nation. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the creation of this veterans’ memorial, which was brought to fruition through the generosity of Mr. Harvey Varnum, one of the principal founders of the company that is today known as Rock of Ages. I am pleased to stand before you on behalf of Rock of Ages today.


Harvey Varnum’s life typifies the American Dream of humble beginnings, hard work and eventual success. Born in Danville, VT, in 1851, early in his youth he demonstrated an innate aptitude for engineering. Although he was not college-educated, he possessed natural talent and a strong work ethic. He took a job as a laborer with the railroad in the early 1870s, laying rails for the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain and later served on a crew with the Bangor & Aroostock railway in Maine, where he exercised his natural aptitude for engineering.​


He carefully saved his money and eventually entered into a partnership to form the contracting company of Varnum & Gilfillan. After marrying, he and his wife settled in Jeffersonville. Mr. Varnum’s contracting company was utilized to engineer the roadway that now traverses Smuggler’s Notch. Varnum and Gilfillan was also hired by the City of Barre to divert a portion of the Steven’s Branch of the Winooski River to open up more land for commercial development in Barre’s downtown.


Possessing fine business acumen, Mr. Varnum was financially very successful. Being very community minded, he used his time, talents and money to help his fellow citizens, serving in the Vermont Legislature as a Senator from Lamoille County and holding numerous town offices during his lifetime.


He gave liberally to many worthwhile causes. And being especially appreciative of those who served this county in the military, he generously supported the creation of this veteran’s memorial, which was dedicated 90 years ago. In fact, his son Guy, is one of the men listed on this memorial.


So it is fitting on this Memorial Day to pause a moment to reflect on the sacrifice made by those who have served in every branch of this nation’s military and also to reflect on the generosity shown by community-minded people like Harvey Varnum. May their dedication and sacrifice to the United States, its principles and to their fellowman constrain us to do our part to give of our time, talents and resources to leave the world a better place than we found it.

The Carriage House

The Carriage Barn Gallery

The Carriage House Gallery, or our main HQ, was also built in 1878 by Harvey Varnum to house his team of horses, which not only supported his household but were used by community members to reach nearby towns in case of emergency. What is now Cochran Tax and Accounting was the original “shop” for the barn and horses.


The building was purchased along with the Varnum House by Jane Shaw in 1983, and underwent a transformation to honor its humble origins. To celebrate this, Jane held an open house on Oct. 6, 1983 inviting Buggy Man Antiques to mount an Art Deco style antiques exhibition, which would mark the first of many exhibitions to come. Curious about the cuts in the floors though? Horses were not the only things cared for here. Prior to becoming a gallery space, the Carriage House was actually used as a car mechanic garage.

The Sugarhouse Gallery

Built in 2009, the Sugarhouse Gallery is the newest building on our property, having been built by the founder’s themselves. Jane happened to be flipping through the “Transcript” one day in 2005 when she saw an ad for the Sugarhouse from Hearthstone Stoves in Morrisville who had used the building as a display at various trade shows from California to Texas to Illinois. Jane thought, “You can’t buy a stick of wood for a good price like that,” and the rest was history.


For four years, the Sugarhouse remained in its boxes before Terry told Jane that she needed to sell it. So while Terry was away for the weekend, Jane had the concrete poured, and with the help of her sons, the Sugarhouse was realized soon after welcoming it home to Vermont and adding a critical space to the Visions of Vermont campus.

The Sugarhouse Gallery

The Landscape Painter Wagon

The horse-drawn studio you see here was designed and built by Alden Bryan in 1939 for painting on cold days. It was originally mounted on a steerable sugaring sled and heated by a pot bellied stove. One to two horses were hitched to the sled to drag it up into the woods near Bryan’s house.


It was here that Bryan would place the sled near to where he intended to paint. Often he would venture out to find locations that best suited him for this work. Other times, when the weather was less than ideal, he would fire up the wood stove and paint from inside.

The restoration of the plein air landscape wagon was done in 2006 by the Shaw family and Sarah Orton Glickman to honor the landscape painters of Jeffersonville past and present. And it is now displayed on wheels, as a curiosity, next to the Visions of Vermont Art Gallery.

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