When Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges was published in the fall of 1997, I had written: "The Spade Farm Bridge stands on the west side of Route 7 in front of the Old Farm Restaurant, north of Ferrisburgh. It was moved here in 1958 from North Ferrisburgh, where it crossed Lewis Creek. Justin Miller built the 86-foot plank-lattice structure in 1824.
"The old bridge has fallen into disrepair over the years. Viewers should be aware that the bridge is on private property and that the floor is dangerously rotted in many places. And, a word to the wise, the last time I was there, it was guarded by geese."
In November 1998 in this web page I wrote: "The rickety old Spade Farm Bridge beside U.S. Route 7 in Ferrisburgh has gotten the attention it has needed. It is sporting a new roof, and that shaky flooring has been repaired. The beautiful farm house next to the bridge is being renovated...."
Today there is no sign of the geese. The Ferrisburgh Artisans Guild has purchased the site, including several buildings. The farm house next to the bridge has been transformed into a superb art gallery. With the new gallery, a new café, and pottery and furniture studios, the Spade Farm bridge site is an ideal spot for covered bridge seekers to pause to enjoy Vermont's creative side. Following is the story of the Artisans Guild and what they have done with the old Spade Farm site in the Guild's own words
Ferrisburgh Artisans Guild was conceived a few years back when a small group of individuals thought, "wouldn't it be nice to open an art center that focused on helping Vermont artists? We could create a place to bring together all the wonderful talent that resides in the hills and valleys of Vermont. Artists with varying passions expressed in diverse media for art lovers to experience and share." These ideas might have evaporated into the creative landscape, but instead came to fruition when we found a beautiful property situated halfway between Burlington and Middlebury.
Our main art gallery, housed in the 1810 farmhouse, highlights everything from clay forms to large abstract oils; sculptural bronze pieces to picturesque landscapes; fine hand-crafted jewelry to beautifully crafted furniture. A jury of local artists reviews the artisan members of the Guild (numbering over 100), assuring that every piece displayed is of high quality reflecting the unique aesthetic expression of the Vermont artist.
The Art Gallery is a singular experience but it does not end there. Also on the property is a furniture studio, a clay studio, and several outbuildings featuring working artists. A pleasant café and a covered bridge round out the guild experience.
The Ferrisburgh Artisans Guild (a non-profit organization) is an idea that became a reality and one that we envision will grow with time, evolving from one artistic endeavor to the next. Please join us in our support of Vermont's finest artists.
"I'm sure your hearts sank when you ripped off the other side of the bridge and found a lot of rot in it. But we knew you were going to do the right thing and you did, and it's really a beautiful job. So thank you very much."
The Covered Bridge, built in 1824, is believed to be the second oldest in the state of Vermont. It was moved to this property in 1953 from its original location in the North Ferrisburgh Hollow. The latticed-wood covered bridge spans a beautiful backyard pond and is open for foot traffic.
The Clay Studio - There are potters at work in the studio on a regular basis. A large portion of the building is set aside for gallery and retail space dedicated solely to Vermont potters for their more functional ware. The beauty of a dinner plate or the simple pleasure of a solid mug in one's hand can be discovered here. Other Vermont-made items are available here as well.
The Starry Night Café - The café is housed in one of the oldest existing cider mills in Vermont, dating back well over a hundred years. Breakfast pastries and beverages are available for early starters, and lunch fare is served throughout the afternoon. A back patio affords a view of the pond and covered bridge, and evening diners may experience sunset over the Adirondacks.
The Art Gallery - The Art Gallery is located in the 1810 Farmhouse. The formal brick and clapboard farmhouse, restored to its original charm, has many rooms and high ceilings making it the perfect space for gallery display. An architectural beauty reminiscent of the large farmhouses that once dotted Vermont's landscape, this building deserves a visit for its history alone.
The Furniture Studio - Our furniture studio is located in the original North Ferrisburgh Railroad Station (circa 1860). The building was moved to this site in 1982. Home to three independent craftspeople who do custom work on commission and one-of a- kind speculative pieces for galleries, this is a working studio and may be visited by appointment. Please feel free to call 802.877.2124 to arrange a time to meet with one of our furniture makers.
[Editor's note: Introductory text this page Copyright © 1999, Joseph C. Nelson. Story of the Ferrisburgh Artisans Guild is property of the Guild, reproduced here by permission. Photographs this page Copyright ©, 1999, Joseph C. Nelson]