The Rutledge Inn is gone. Totally gone.


We took a road trip last weekend to our teenage haunts, and on a whim drove past a country inn about 10 miles from the old home, on the edge of a Vermont lake, where we spent two summers working to save money for college. It was a magical resort, the location of early romances (the inn had more than a dozen waitresses compared to us few “handymen”), and had the old-fashioned entertainment that once ruled vacation spots in New England. Boat rides. Shuffleboard. Thursday evening picnic and talent show by the staff. Necking on the shore.

Trouble is, the inn is gone. The main building has been razed, the dance hall removed, and in their place is an empty lawn on one side of the lake road and a new McMansion on the other.

We drove back to reality and Googled “Rutledge Inn, Vermont,” to try to find a record or photos of what we remembered. A big wraparound porch. A dozen cottages hidden in the trees. A laundry outbuilding out back that once caught fire, and made us a modest hero for seeing the blaze and rushing in to stop it.

Nothing.

All of this made us realize how new today’s information nimbus of the internet is. In 2008, you can find almost anyone or anything of note online, with reviews, photos, histories of communications, an entire wikipedia on almost any topic. But that all began back in about 1999, and before then, anything you remembered either made a book, or hopefully a few photos in a cupboard.

Anything before the internet is fragile and fading fast. The Rutledge Inn stood for about a century, generated untold love tangles and perhaps a few children, and Google has barely a whiff of its passing. Some engineer named Paul mentions it briefly on his cycling blog, but that’s it.

We wonder if today’s blogs and electronic records will really be more lasting than old photos a few decades from now. We also wonder if Paul dated the same waitress.

46 thoughts on “The Rutledge Inn is gone. Totally gone.

  1. Sad. I used to spend a week at the Rutledge innevery summer with my (now deceased) mother, father and grandparents. Just like my Dad had with his parents as a boy. I guess change is relentless…

    Phil M. – Edina, MN

  2. I spent three weeks every summer for sixteen years, as a child, at Rutledge Inn and Cottages as a guest. Shady Rest was our cabin. The far right corner of the dining room was our table. Trips to the Barre Quarry, The Morse Museum, The Animal Farm were yearly treats. Gladys and Jack Webb were our hosts, with their children. I, too, discovered that the Inn was gone through an internet search several years ago. I thought to bring my grandchildren to see it, and walk along the beach of the lake where I learned to swim and lazed away summer days in a hammock, eating fresh-picked corn on the cob.
    I know the staff worked hard to make my summers wonderful, so I thank you, Ben, for your part in making Rutledge in a magical place. The internet is only one aspect of our swiftly changing universe that doesn’t last. In the end, our memories fade and there’s nothing left but a grassy lawn with McMansions in Fairlee, Vermont.

    Lynn H. – New York NY

  3. Wow! I worked at the Rutledge Inn for two summers when I was 15 and 16. It was certainly a “coming of age” time for me. Now nearly 20 years later, it is a fading memory. So sad that now I have no photo record of this time in my life. But, thanks for mentioning it in your blog. It makes those passing memories just a little more vivid for me.

    Mary

  4. I grew up at the Rutledge Inn. I was born there and continued to spend every summer there working for my parents until I was 25. I was a dishwasher/salad girl, chambermaid, waitress, waterfront director, diningroom hostess, front desk receptionist… it was crazy. It was a wonderful place to spend my childhood. Every summer was filled with sand castle contests, arts and crafts, talent shows, sneaking in the walk-in to steal slices of pie or cookies. And of course, the hot “outdoor boys” definitely made my teen-age years interesting (as I recall, it was my sister that Ben kept entertained!). It is really weird that we’re not on the web anywhere. Very sad. And the McMansion is sad too, but much better than the developers that wanted to buy up the land and put in a bunch of condos. Most of the cottages are still in existence, though. People bought them and then carted them away to be rebuilt in other locations!

    I always thought I’d bring my children there someday to stay at the Rutledge Inn under new ownership when my parents, Bob and Nancy Stone eventually retired (it’d be nice to have stayed there and not had to deliver ice to all the cottages every afternoon at 4pm – in time for cocktails!). I did bring my daughter there once and showed her where my bedroom window is in the house that’s still standing, but she really didn’t seem that interested.

    1. Hi Yvonne: My daughter, Kate, grew up with you in Fairlee — My father’s family worked at Rutledge Inn in the 1930s and my parents met while working there, had their first date (a picnic, then bowling at the Casino with Ma Rutledge’s blessing). They married and went on the start their own Tyler’s Restaurant in Orford, NH, then the Neo (neapolitan) Restaurant in Fairlee and the Dairy Belle, next door. I have pictures of the Rutledge Inn floats in the 1937 Fairlee Old Home Day — would like to post here them here but don’t see a place for photos. If anyone’s interested, would be glad to email them.

    2. Yvonne! I don’t think I would have ever learned to waterski if it wasn’t for you, I remember when I finally got up you jumped in the water to congratulate me. I miss the Rutledge. I’m not sure if you remember me, but I am sure you remember my very eccentric mother, Carole Becker. Hope all is well with you!

    3. Hi Yvonne, I worked at the Rutledge Inn, in the summer of 1979 as a waitress for your parents! I remember you, your sister,and your brother. It was such a fun summer. The Inn was on a gorgeous spot on the lake, and the whole summer was an amazing experience. I convinced quite a few girls from the Essex Jct. XC running team to work there that summer. One day your dad dropped us off 9 miles away and had us run back to The Rutledge Inn. It was a very hot day! I remember that he was a Nordic Ski coach! He was thrilled that we were up for the challenge! The lake felt amazing when we made it back. The summer of 1979 was very special. Hi to your parents!

  5. The Rutledge Inn holds some of my favorite childhood memories. My family would spend a week there every summer for about 8 years. We’d go the same week every summer, and would see the same families year after year, forming great friendships.
    Now that I’m married and about to have my first child, I’d love to find a place just like the Rutledge Inn to bring my family. Sadly, typing in “places similar to the Rutledge Inn” in Google doesn’t harvest any results.

    1. Cailyn, not sure if you remember me, but my family used to go to the Rutledge every year that first week also! I remember you and I hanging out together and I actually think I have a picture of us building a sand castle ha. Glad I came across this blog, hope all is well with you. :)

  6. Every so often I google the “Rutledge Inn”. Delightfully suprised to have stumbled upon this blog. I spent one week every summer at the sunny shores cabin for 6 years with my Mother, Father and Sister. Memories of the Inn always make my heart full and warm. Learning to waterski, the plentiful choice of desserts, the talent show, horse races at the inn, ping pong, softball and of course the beauty of the lake and its surroundings all contributed to the most memorable of stays. But what brought our family back year after year, was the other familes, and staff members we had formed such close bonds with. I was deeply saddened when our family received notice that the Inn was closing. There may never be anything like this place in the future to share with our loved ones, but I feel truly blessed to have been part of such a wonderful experience. As I will hopefully someday marry and become a Father, I only wish that we may stumble upon a place that can captured the essence that once made the Rutledge Inn a true gem.

  7. I worked at the Inn the summer before my Junior year of high school. I will never forget Talent Show night and Picnic night down by the lake. That summer I made some wonderful friends, had a summer time romance and learned to water ski…..great memories, it is a shame I will never be able to take my children there

  8. First, I want to say thank you to whoever started this thread so that we could all remember our experiences at the Rutledge Inn.

    I vacationed at the Rutledge Inn every August from 1980 to 1995. It was my favorite place to be. My family stayed in Pinehurst the first few years and then we all broke out into our own cabins (Sunbonnet, Burlingame, Sunshade, etc.)

    I am so thankful for the time I spent there and I know that my family will never forget it. The memories are priceless: reading the Rutledge Rumors, ringing the bell for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, horseracing, arts and crafts, the cookout, bingo, shuffleboard tournament, waterskiing, softball game, kayaking on the lake, and especially the family gamenights that we enjoyed so much in the living room in Sunbonnet.

    I was truly heartbroken when I found out in 1995 (age 15) that I would never be able to vacation on Lake Morey as an adult. Never be able to go to Chapman’s or the General Store in Fairlee, VT and go back to rowing boats or singing in the talent show. I hope that everyone gets to experience times like my family and I had at the Rutledge in at least once in their life.

  9. My, all you young folk. I remember the Rutledge Inn and Cottages from 1935-6-7. Ruth Rutledge was in charge. I remember “Burlingame,” near which was the badminton court. We had “Sunny Slope.” I set fire to it one day when I dumped hot fireplace ashes at one of the footing-posts; but the fire was quickly extinguished. I remember running on the dock, slipping, and crashing into the water, which was always too cold. I claimed that my sister pushed me, which was not so. I vaguely remember rowboats on the lake. The name “Morse Museum” rings a bell. I loved the aroma of balsam from the fireplace. Mrs. Rutledge had a tan Graham-Paige car; I remember she took us to the movies in (?) Bradford, where we saw our first 3-D movie, which was very scary to us young children. I happened to be in the area 8 or 10 years ago, at which time the Inn was still in operation, but Mrs. Rutledge was long since deceased. I think the place was much more informal and slow-moving in those days, compared to the experiences which are recounted in these blog entries.

  10. Wow, I just googled Rutledge Inn, Fairlee and found this. Sad to hear the Rutledge Inn is no more. I worked there in the early to mid-60′s, for Jack and Gladys Webb. Started as a dishwasher, then became waitress and typist for the Rutledge Rumors, which Jack wrote. Used the old green mimeograph sheets. Reading all the comments brought back many memories. Chocolate coconut basket with coffee ice cream and marshmallow mint sauce. (Never saw that anywhere else before or since!) I can see the green fringed placemats in the dining room, the white-with-burgundy dishes, burgundy and clear goblets. I learned to play bridge there. Rutledge Inn fruit drink. The old-fashioned polished cotton printed waitress dresses we wore for serving the evening meal. Grapenut pudding. We need a Rutledge Inn, Fairlee, VT facebook group.

  11. My Family (The Lehans) spent a week or two at the Rutledge Inn when it was owned by Bob and Nancy Stone starting in the early 70′s through it’s closing in the early 90′s. Most of that time we stayed in Pinehurst. Great memories of Bingo, Horse racing, Talent shows, shuffleboard, water skiing, hanging out with the staff (Steve, Mussie, etc.), going to the “Whippee Dip”, Colatina’s Pizza in Bradford, Bradford Drive-in. The food was awesome at the Inn! I too loved the “coffee ice cream in a chocolate coconut basket in marshmallow mint sauce” for dessert. I remember the Stone kids: Yvonne, her sister Michelle and brother Robbie (all a few years younger than I). It was great seeing the same families year after year. We have, in recent years, stayed at the Lake Morey Inn, right around the corner on Lake Morey. It’s nice being on the Lake, but not the same as Rutledge! Great idea to start a Facebook group for the Rutledge Inn!

  12. What wonderful memories…I too hoped to bring my children back someday. I have lots of pictures that I will cherish forever. Every summer I think of the Inn when I make watermelon and lime sherbert cups for my family.

  13. I must say it is fun to read all the comments from guests and staff of the Rut. Bob and I tried very hard to sell the going business, but it was not ment to be. Michelle, Yvonne and Rob all had other ideas for their own lives, they had already worked at the Inn for years. We finally divided the property into seven house lots. Auctioned off the contents and 14 of the buildings to be moved to new homes. The new owners seem to be taking very good care of existing and/or new structures. The McMansion has taken the place of the Casino which held many stories from days gone by.
    Bob and I now live in South Carolina. A long way from Fairlee, but we still have dreams about opening week, reservation mishaps, staff capers and rain on picnic night.
    Thank you for sharing your feelings about the Inn.

    1. Hi Nancy! I have such fond memories of the inn, especially the game nights when we used to play the horse racing games and bingo! I’m trying to remember what the horse racing game looked like and was wondering if you had any pictures or memory of it.

  14. So great to read all of these comments. The Rutledge Inn was such an incredibley special place and whether or not my family would spend our summer vacation there each year was not even a question. We could not wait! And I always hated to leave. Does anyone else remember Bill, the boat driver who was there sometime in the mid-70′s? What a cutie! I had a HUGE crush. :)

  15. Well I am very late in commenting but then I guess most of you are. I am trying to remember how old I was must have been mid to late eightees and I am 34 now. I used to come and visit my father who lived down in MA. I would come over from the UK and remember a few very early summer romances… I also remember the shuffle board. Oh and also Hot Chocolate with marshmellows :-)

    Rich from the UK

  16. hello , my name is isabell rutledge, when i was in high school in 1989-1992. i used bike from bradford , vt to fairlee to go see the inn, as i had often wondered if it was some how connected to my family,now as an adult i am still wondering the same thing and trying to find information, it is sad to see that there is hardly anything at all about this place!!! i am glad other have remebered and it was great to read your stories!!

  17. When my parents began going to Rutledge Inn the summer of 1951, Mrs. Rutledge lived just down the road in her “retirement” house. But she still did all the morning baking for the inn, heavenly fresh donuts, coffee cake, muffins and very special donut holes (only for my Dad, nobody else). Gladys and Tom Webb had a son, Tom, almost my same age of 8 months and the Inn was very family friendly. I never met the Stone family, because my family stopped going after my mother died in 1968. But our waitress that first summer, Hellen Berry, became my Mom’s best friend and she is still a very close friend of mine, like an aunt really. That’s the sort of place it was. Extreme vacations sound crazy to me after my experiences in Fairlee.

  18. I worked at the Rutledge Inn for a summer in 1993. I suddenly had the urge to google it and this is all I found about it. It is sad to think that it is completely gone. I had a fun summer there.

  19. I owned and ran Gove and Bancroft Pharmacy in nearby Bradford for 26 years. During that time, I frequently would just go for a drive or bicycle ride around Lake Fairlee to unwind and inhale the clean balsam scented air. Bob and Nancy were customers and were responsible for introducing two friends of mine who later got married. What a time to be alive and living in Vermont!

  20. So nice to see these posts! I hold the Rutlege Inn and my summer vacations near and dear to my heart. In 1957 when I was 9 months old I spent my first 2 weeks there. Each summer after was the same, my family vacationed there until the summer before it’s closing. Sadly, I took a ride by the day the Inn was being demolished. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So many wonderful memories. The Webbs greeting you as you walked in the Inn for dinner or coming back in the evening for but the “Horse Racing” (That big green wooden board with wooden horses) and Bingo. I can see the brass door knob on the bathroom door that was located near the staircase. The area with all the books and games. That soda machine outside the back door. And what about those 1/2 round ice cubes? The water front was another area of great memories. Learning to water ski behind Jack Webb’s boat. Then the day trips with the “hostess’s” to the Rare Bird and Animal Farm, Walkers Museum and Grandads Workshop. My list could go on.
    I am so ever greatful to have been blessed with such special times in my life. I am not in my mid-fifties and go back to Lake Morey every summer. It is something I need to do.

  21. I have been reading through this very slowly remembering our summers at Pinehurst. Lots of summers, lots of cute girls and as I got older, a 1961 Buick with a 401. Talk about trouble – 16 year-old hormones, sleeping grandfather and great aunt and a fast car. Those were the days my friend!

  22. I spent the summer of 1977 at the Rutledge Inn as a dishwasher (later promoted to prep cook). I, too, just discovered it is gone. How sad. But even at the time I knew I was living a part of a fading history. Thanks to everyone for sharing their memories and reflections.
    At 17 it was my first summer job. Quite a summer it was. Mussie introduced me to the world of old timey music. I learned to water ski there (on days it was too cold for the guests to monopolize the boat). The talent show in the old dance hall was my first chance to try my hand at sketch comedy, which later became a part of my career path. Summer romance, check. And my greatest moment in sport came there as well. There was a family that came every summer who were known for helping the guests trounce the staff in softball (was their name Ward?). The grandfather was a retired major league umpire. He must have been in his eighties, and called the game. Sure enough the first week they were there the guests won handily.

    As a basically fit teen, Bob Stone saw me as a potential asset and pulled me from my kitchen duties the next week to help fill out the staff team. Bottom of the 7th, staff down by 3 runs, bases loaded I came up to bat. 2 quick strikes. The next pitch was high and inside but I swatted it hard and landed it in the lilac bushes by the inn. Ground rule home run! A grand slam to win the game! Glory! Thanks, I don’t ever get to tell that story in a place where people truly understand the context…

  23. Brenda Moore Miller

    I worked as Recreation Director with a guy named “Mussy”, in 1977. It was a very interesting summer and have some extremely fond memories of it. Still have a scar on my heel from stepping on a piece of glass in the lake (unfortunately left by snowmobilers, probably in the winter). They took great care of me, though, and we had a lot of fun with staff and campers. Met an actor from NYC there and am still in touch with him.
    Best wishes to Nancy and Bob and all I met there.

  24. I am so excited to find this! I recently moved to Hartford, Vt from Burlington. I decided I would treat my husband to a surprise trip to see the Rutledge Inn where I served as a social director during my first summer out of college, 1975. We drove and drove and to my disappointment, no Rutledge Inn! My roommate, Ruthie Stearns and I had a room in the Inn and planned and organized events for the kids and the adults. I remember Nancy and Bob Stone’s 3 little children, often caring for them during the daytime. It was a wonderful institution and I am sad to know it is gone. Allyson Davis Ledoux

    1. I was a social hostess for the summer of 1964, with my friend, Susie Roberts. This was my first time in Vermont. We had a room in the inn also. We organized field trips & activities for the children in the mornings, activities like water skiing or guest vs staff softball games in the afternoons, and special events like hat contests & talent shows in the evenings. Gladys and Jack Webb were running the Inn then. That summer I met a young man who was a life guard at the Dartmouth pool. We have been married 47 years and have lived in southern Vermont for decades.

  25. Oh the great times I had during that one week in July every year at the Rutledge Inn! It was a part of my life that I will always cherish from 1961-1973. I lived in NY then and would meet other families from MA, CT, NJ, and RI.
    I’m 58 now and live in Marietta, GA but I still talk about my memories at the Rut. Oh that simple life (bingo, talent shows, softball, water skiing, picnics, and great food and fellowship).
    I was heartbroken when I read that it was gone; I always thought that I would return to Rutledge someday.
    Thank you Jack, Gladys, Bob and Nancy for the memories!

  26. My family was from the Panama Canal Zone and, for a number of years, dad and mom would bring us boys on a family vacation for several weeks to the Rutledge Inn. My younger brother took his first steps in the lobby in 1948 and I’m still searching for any Vanilla ice cream that can match the creamy richness of the Inn’s or any butterscotch pudding as flavorful! Wonderful memories.

  27. My husband, son and myself spent summers from 1973-1980 at the Rutledge Inn. What a great time we had. We still keep in touch with one of the families we met. We have many fond memories.

  28. Hi, I am MaryBeth’s sister, Patty Lehan. It is such a blast to read these posts! I remember the Wards, the Halls, Mussie, Brenda…and I think I remember Ally and Ruthie. I also remember two brothers, Scott and Jay Chandler who worked there…Steve Summers and his sisters Sharon and Roxie. The “Bill” mentioned above must be Bill Jameson. So many great memories! I did like the coffee ice cream in chocolate coconut basket but my favorite was the coconut cream pie. yum. I remember vividly “my bedroom” upstairs in Pinehurst…the same clothes hanger held the window open every year. so sweet.

    1. This is a wonderful blog. I’m Jay Chandler one of the brothers mentioned in Patty Lehan’s post Nov 10, 2011. I spent my first summer as a dish washer cleaning dishes to the Doobie Brothers in 1975. Came back the second year in 1976 between my sophomore and junior year of high school and remember the great patriotic picnic we had at the Rut on the 4th of July because it was the 200th anniversary of the USA. The talent night was my favorite because I enjoyed hamming it up and singing funny songs. “The food here at Rutledge they say is mighty fine…” Steve Sommers pulling the chain across stage “because you can’t push it”. I was a handy man the second year and I promise Bob, I fixed the door knob but it kept coming off and the guests kept delivering it at the front desk. We used to put Saran Wrap on the toilet in the boys dorm. Just fun and romance all summer. Even had one of the waitresses loan me her car and I got my driver’s license that summer. Now old memories, 55 yrs old flying for the Army in Afghanistan, grown kids. Time flies and thank you Bob and Nancy for the memories.

  29. I went for a week in the late 70s and still remember the inn, dining room, rec hall, lake and just about everything! My parents went by themselves as well. Thanks for bringing back great memories. Sad to hear that it’s gone. Maybe someday photos will “magically” pop up online.

  30. I worked at the Inn in the dining room in 1981 as a waitress then was asked back the next year to be the dining room hostess. Those were the best two summers! Looking back now I don’t know how Bob and Nancy put up with us young adults. I made some good friends those two summers. I’ve tried finding them over the years but had no luck. I was especially close to a girl named Kim who used to be an activity director. Kim, if you’re out there hello and how have you been?

  31. Oh, my gosh! This is so wonderful to read! I worked there for one summer (’78) and it changed my life! One of my teachers in high school (Steve Summers) helped get me the job because I had gone through a nasty break-up and he thought it would be a great place for me to get over it. Boy, was it! I’ll never forget my first night there. Meeting all the other staff and playing Marco Polo on the lake in boats in the fog! I think there was some alcohol consumed… Does anyone know whatever happened to Mary Baer? She was my roommate (we were the “depressing duo”. HA!) and we lost touch a few years after that. So many memories are coming back of that time. It truly was a magical place!!

    Jennifer Winkler

  32. I can remember the last year i was there 1993 as a teenager my parents brought us for 8 or 9 years. The funyaks water skiing .. I can remember knowing everything at 15 and trying to land on the dock and sit on the dock after skiing .. All I can say is timing is everything hitting the dock with both Schins and landing on water on other side so glad I didn’t break my legs. I’m sure I’m the only one you can skin their hand playing shuffle board. It was an amazing time.

  33. I stayed at the Rut for a week every summer throughout my childhood, until it closed. Swimming, sandcastles contests, canoeing with my Dad, even the cute daily menus and the bell to let people know meals were ready. So many of my happiest childhood memories are tied there. I’m 31 now and still tell my husband stories about it, and hope to find someplace similar in the future to bring our now 10 month old.

  34. Just looking to re-visit Vermont after 20-odd years and discovered that the Rutledge Inn has gone. Really sad. Quirky places like that are what travellers tales are made of….the steps etc were a challenge for a wheelchair using family, but there was no shortage of help. Particularly the folks who drove me goodness knows how far to get a new key for my hire car when I locked it in the boot (trunk).

    Stayed for a few days in 1991 with our children & had the most wonderful time on the lake – my son even found a dollar bill on he lake bed whilst diving – truly a treasured possession!

    I never came across such a cross-section of society in one place anywhere else. The kids still talk about it.

    Rob
    Stoke-on-Trent, England

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