Abandoned Vermont: Manchester Inn

Manchester, Vermont is a popular high-style tourist destination with historic buildings, historic marble sidewalks, nearby recreation, shopping outlets – it’s picture perfect on so many streets. So you can imagine my surprise when I noticed this abandoned structure in the middle of historic Manchester.

On Main Street.

On Main Street.

I know I’ve driven by this building at least a few times in the past few years, maybe the fall day made its abandoned-ness more apparent. This was an interesting building. On the exterior it appeared that someone had attempted maintenance relatively recently. Yet peeking in the windows revealed peeling paint, water damage, and the usual vandalism inside. A sticker on the front door had a 2003 Conde Nast logo, so presumably the building had only been empty for a few years – likely not 10. It was weird. Check out these photos and see what I mean.

Marble sidewalks in Manchester.

Marble sidewalks in Manchester.

The view from Route 7A (Main Street) in Manchester, VT.

The view from Route 7A (Main Street) in Manchester, VT.

The property is much larger than you can see from the street.

The property is much larger than you can see from the street. Hmm, and a shallow roof pitch. That is never a good idea in cold climates.

A marble patio with an outdoor pool (not shown in photo).

A marble patio with an outdoor pool (not shown in photo).

The front porch.

The front porch.

On the front porch.

On the front porch.

Looking through the windows. It's amazing how much has deteriorated in just a few years.

Looking through the windows. It’s amazing how much has deteriorated in just a few years. If the first floor looks like this, what do the upper floors look like?

This takes "shuttered" to a new level.

This takes “shuttered” to a new level.

And the story? Well, the inn closed in 2009 due to foreclosure, and approved for demolition in 2011 by the Development Review Board. Recently purchased in 2013, the currents owners do not have a plan for the property. With its fate of demolition looming, the important questions will turn to documentation and infill.

40 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Manchester Inn

  1. jane says:

    I do like your pictures of abandoned Vermont – the backs, sides, and details as well as the interior shots through the windows.
    But: shallow roofs are fine in Vermont if they are properly framed and maintained. Look at all the downtown office buildings c. 1890 with shallow pitched roofs, all the modern big box stores, supermarkets, schools…. Lack of or poor maintenance is what destroys buildings.

    • Kaitlin says:

      thanks, Jane. Of course, with maintenance anything can be appropriate. However, since maintenance is often a struggle, it’s best to have a greater pitch in our roofs. And it makes it easier to get that water off the roof!

  2. Local says:

    The current owners have a plan. They a nearing the final hurdles in permitting and plan to build a new hotel on the property.

    http://www.manchesterjournal.com/headlines/ci_24112438/village-approves-hotel-application

    If you actually saw the state of the structural components in this building you’d understand why it needs to go.

    While I’d love to see the building saved, it’s become both an eyesore, and a hazard considering that people have begun to use the building to either “hang out”, or for temporary living.

    • Michael says:

      This was the village county inn, run by anne and jay degen from 1985 to 2009, when they went bankrupt. it was a lovely place to stay all the time i went there. the maintenance of buildings like this is just enormus, but they did a fine job. they had a front desk employee to embezzled them out of business. too bad

  3. Deirdre Bua says:

    My husband I got engaged at this lovely inn back in 1991. We had the pleasure of meeting Anne & Jay. So sad to see it in such disrepair. Hopefully the new owners will bring it back to it’s former beautiful state.

  4. Shaun Green says:

    Such a shame to see this. It looks like it did before Jay and Ann Degan renovated it back in the 80’s.
    Believe it may have been known as the Worthy Inn??
    I’ve stayed here many times and it was always the epitome of a Classic Vermont Inn. Ann did a great job at promoting it on national news programs such as The “Today Show” and Chronicle. Jay maintained the fiscal end.I heard there may have been an illness as well that changed things for the worse.
    I hadn’t heard of the “embezzling” from a former employee.
    It would be horrific to replace this with a Hampton Inn or anything you can find as a chain supply.
    It just becomes a lower common denominator. This beautiful town doesn’t need the homogenization this would represent.

    Shaun Green

    • Informed says:

      The building has now been completely demolished. All that remains is a hole in the ground.

      This building is NOT being replaced with a Hampton Inn or any other chain motel/hotel. The new property owners are building a new independent hotel. The architecture matches nicely with other buildings in Manchester Village, and they are incorporating several vacant homes into the construction as cottages for rent.

      All said, a large strip of prime real estate in the heart of the town is going to have a purpose again, instead of rotting away and becoming a hazard under the previous owner’s tenure. Manchester absolutely should protect it’s history, but leaving that building in place as a home for squatters was not an option.

      • Michael says:

        a hazard under the previous owner’s tenure? for embezzling two senior citizen’s business away from them, Mary Saunders got 30 days, put Anne and Jay in the poor house, and denied everything when she came out of jail. she is the reason this building became a hazard

  5. Quinn J. Resney says:

    I went to school at Burr & Burton Academy just up the road, and I would walk passed the old Worthy Inn and oh how I wanted to see it come back and become an Inn again, sadly it is now torn down. I am going to Green Mountain College now. -Quinn J. Resney

  6. Dave and Linda Kronmiller says:

    21 years ago this Thursday, we had our wedding at the Village Country Inn. We decided to Google the Inn and take a walk down memory lane and discovered this very sad news! The Degans were wonderful hosts to our family over our wedding weekend. Ann planned everything for us, the rooms, the meals and a beautiful wedding cake. Ann gave us a lovely framed painting of the Inn that hangs in our house to this day! We were married on the bridge behind the Inn and had the reception in the dining room. Our family spent the weekend with us at the Village Country Inn to celebrate.. Ann and Jay if you see this post, please know that we will always remember the beautiful Village Country Inn that you made so special for your guests.

  7. George Chsprastian says:

    This is so sad for me. My Dad and I used to stay there every winter to go skiing at nearby Bromley, Sratton and Magic Mountain (anybody remember that? It closed down nearly 40 years ago!) Anyway, it was the Worthy Inn then, owned by the Fox family. This was the late 60’s through the 70’s. Practically grew up there as I was friends with “Skip” Fox, the owners son. Went to school with him at Rumsey Hall in Washington, CT. I stumbled upon this site as I was thinking about going back to Manchester this ski season with my grown children and wanted to stay here. So, so sad… Fewer and fewer things are still around from my childhood….

  8. Gregory hubbard says:

    This demolition was inexcusable. I remember when the great Equinox House Hotel was derelict and threatened with demolition. I photographed the hotel in late fall. It had been given up as virtually gone. Only a few people held out any hope it would be saved.
    As one of the few great ante-bellum hotels to survive, its demolition would have been an architectural and cultural disaster. Water poured down through the interiors to create waterfalls on the stairs. Moss grew on the floors.
    Just look at it now. For anyone to demolish a fine historic hotel with the Equinox just a short distance away was criminal and astoundingly short sighted. The 20% investment historic preservation tax credit should have saved it if nothing else did.
    To be destroyed by speculators. How very sad.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Interesting history about the Equinox. Good story! And yes, destroying historic buildings is unnecessary. In these days, heritage tourism drives so much of our economy, especially in Vermont, that a historic hotel would seem much more prosperous than a new building. I feel your sadness.

    • Anne & Jay Degen says:

      Michael,

      I just received this link from a former guest, I am sure you can imagine the pain
      and hurt that I feel. I never let your father see this bldg. following Marys demise
      of our lives. I loved your dad beyond life itself, I had him home w/me for many
      years and only had him in care center when he could not walk. He always knew
      who I was, and sadly I am sorry for your loss in that respect…Life is difficult and
      I just went thru these last years by the grace of God who carried me when I could
      no longer bare the many circumstances that we had to go through in losing the
      inn. I miss you and love you Michael, you will always have a place w/me if you
      want. I realize this is personal but if that is the only way to reach you, so be it.
      Anne Degen

      • Rosanne Finkel says:

        When looking for an Inn to stay in Vermont, I spotted The Village Country Inn, in an ad, I think in Yankee magazine. It looked absolutely beautiful and did not disappoint when we stayed there. The rooms were gorgeous and the food in the restaurant was so delicious. We returned many times after and loved every visit.
        Needless to say, I was truly devastated when I learned of the fate of the Inn. I will always remember the special weekends we spent there and I don’t think we will ever find another one like it.

    • Gregory Levitzki says:

      My wife and retired from New Jersey and moved to Georgia in mid 2012 and we haven’t been to the area since because of the distance. A four hour ride from North Jersey would be a twenty hour drive from Georgia. Our last visit to Manchester was in 2010. I miss, very much, the October days we, my wife and I would spend in Manchester. We would stay at the Village Country Inn, sit on the porch in the afternoon with hot apple cider and just enjoy the atmosphere. Sometimes we’d stop at The Equinox for a drink, make the drive to the top of the mountain, visit the covered bridge in Arlington, visit Bennington, the Monument and the Church. I always stood by the Wallamoosic Inn and tried to imagine the period when it was a thriving destination for visitors. There was a nice little restaurant across the street from The Village Country Inn that had fishing and hunting sportsman memorabilia hanging on the walls and we’d enjoy a lunch there. A visit to the outlets on an afternoon was always in order. Her birthday was early October and usually we took a four or five night stay in Manchester to celebrate the event and enjoy the beautiful fall leaf season. Dining at the Inn was the highlight of our trip there. My wife would always pick up a couple of items n the little Guft shop in the Inn’s Lobby, gifts for someone special back home. We first stayed at The Village Country Inn in 1991. Some time in the late ’90’s , due to illness, we didn’t make the Reservation in time and managed to book at a strip Motel, The Brittany Inn, a few miles south of Manchester, but did not miss visiting and dining at the Inn. I remember Anne & Jay and how meticulously ship shape they maintained the Inn. It was such a pleasure to go there. I remember sitting with my wife,by the fireplace in the Living Room area with a drink in my hand and a smile on my face, just thinking how great it must be to, well, to be Jay & Anne! Naturally I had no clue of how many hours and how much hard work they put in to maintain this little slice of paradise for so many guests. I think, I may be wrong, but they both worked on Wall St, came to Manchester for a visit, saw the Inn and decided to “retire” as Innkeepers in Vermont. I have the original copies of the postcards from the front desk. The picture of the Inn from outside, the sleigh in front and the fireplace. I also have photographs of my wife and myself at the Inn. Many fond memories, all made possible by the grace and generosity of a very special couple of Innkeepers. Anne & Jay Degen are the Special People, put on earth to make life a whole lot nicer for the people who are fortunate enough to become acquainted with them and with their purpose. Their purpose was to be Innkeepers in a very special, very beautiful place and bring joy and happiness into the lives of other people.

  9. Millie Fischer says:

    Dear Anne,

    My condolences on Jay’s passing. Joe and I spent many wonderful Fall weekends with you at the inn and are so sorry to hear it has been torn down. We thank you for your wonderful hospitality. Will always remember checking in and finding our photograph next to the bed, a lovely welcome! Wishing you all the best.

    Fondly,
    Millie Fischer
    New Jersey

  10. Paula Scherpa says:

    Dear Anne,
    I am also so very saddened to hear the news of Jay’s passing. My husband and I stayed at your beautiful Inn in 1985 when you first opened (we were a young dating couple and this was our first weekend away together), we learned on our last visit there that it was your last operating weekend of the Inn, we were devastated to learn that life had taken a turn for you and it was the end of a beautiful era. We went to the Inn at least once or twice a year and it truly was our favorite nights of the year; we visited your Inn through all the stages of our life- a dating couple, engaged couple, newlyweds, and three pregnancies. Your special touches left a lasting impression on us, our photo in our room and the lovely special gifts left for us, they all meant so much to us. We stayed in numerous rooms and whether they were the beautiful large suites like the Chapelle Suite or Rose Noire or the smaller quaint rooms like The Secret Room or Brandywine, we loved them all; romantic dinners in the Rose Room by the fireplace were always my favorite part of the weekend. The pictures of the fireplace and common area (above) are heartbreaking. Though I don’t believe there is anyone out there that can recreate the special ambiance you and Jay created, we hope to return to the property. Your Inn will always hold some of our favorite memories as a couple and you and Jay were wonderful hosts that made us feel very special.
    The very best to you, thank you for giving us such wonderful memories !
    Bill and Paula
    Feeding Hills MA

  11. Centralia Heart says:

    My sister and I walked all around the Inn in 2012. the weirdest room was the one with the bedding and quilt still on the bed. It looked like someone was still living there.

  12. Gregory Levitzki says:

    I have a few old postcard pictures of The Worthy Inn to share. How can I forward them to this page? Thank You GL

  13. Deborah says:

    I stayed and worked at the Worthy Inn one summer in 1978 (or 1979?) as a 13 y.o. (yes, I know!) with the owners before the ones mentioned in this article. It was an amazing summer for many reasons – not the least of which was being brought into the circle of “Camp Worthy” as the teens who worked there called the place. They trusted me, and the other teens to staff the back of the house business, and we rose to the occasion. Additionally, pretending I was Nancy Drew and sneaking into the then abandoned Equinox Inn at 5:00am on a few summer mornings and wandering it’s empty ballrooms, halls and kitchens to “investigate” gave me a great dose of courage for later life. The Worthy was truly a classic place and am very sad to see it is gone. No one here has mentioned it’s ghost – but the 3rd floor, which was mostly for staff then – had a very active and present ‘spirited’ female spirit. Things went missing, bump in the night, doors slammed shut … but she was also strangely comforting to have around. Sort of like the Worthy itself – unique, rambling, not the most modern but warmly welcoming, and with places to hide when you needed it and be alone, gather wool, gaze at the mountains. The world is a paler place as venues like this disappear.

  14. Martha M Stinson says:

    Wow! Cannot believe I ran across this site. I worked at the Worthy Inn as a waitress in the winter of 1972. The Foxes were the owners and actually family friends of my parents. They lived on our street in Knoxville, Tennessee before moving to Vermont. A Southerner, I was dying to learn how to snow ski and I dropped out of the University of Tenn, where I was a sophomore, to do so. The Foxes gave me a waitress job for room, board and a small stipend. I served breakfast and dinner and skied at Bromley during the day. I hitch hiked back and forth. I took a week of ski school and then bought my own equipment which I kept in a locker in Bromley. I skiied all winter! My room at The Worthy Inn was at the top of the main staircase in the lobby on the second floor. One weekend the Inn was so packed, they rented my room and I bunked in with another worker. The cook at the time was Harold and I can vividly remember him smoking and cooking! It was such a lovely historic building and I am saddened to learn it was demolished. I remember a mill or a waterfall at a road intersection in town. Such a picturesque town and great memories. No outlets then. (I did return to school and graduate.) I may have pictures packed away somewhere if of any use.

    • George Chaprastian says:

      Then you and I definitely crossed paths. My dad and I stayed at the Worthy Inn at least 3 times every winter since the late 60’s through the mid 80’s. I even went to school at Rumsey Hall with the Fox’s son, Skip (Austin Fox, Jr.). A true tragedy that they tore that beautiful old place down. HUGE part of my childhood…

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