Guests arriving through the porte-cochere entered a reception area with its grand circular oak staircase. The grand dining room, steps away, was paneled in Cuban mahogany and now houses the College’s library.
The family living room, now the Burgdorff Gallery, included seating and mingling areas as well as a piano for private concerts. Directly off the living room is the former cigar room, an octagonal-shaped room now used as the President’s Meeting Room.
Continuing down the hall is the ballroom, which once displayed the 90” x 137” oil on panel painting, The Abduction of Proserpine by the 16th century Italian artist, Alessandro Allori. The painting is now included in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Today, the ballroom is the Everett Theatre.
On the second floor, walls were paneled in maple and the plan included ten family bedrooms, six baths and the nursery, now classroom 201, with a stunning view. The third floor, paneled in fir, housed the servants’ rooms, a playroom (called the Abbey) and access to four attics.
The Gardens and Beyond: Miles of Orchards
Gardens designed by A. H. Albyn of Ohio were set in the ten acres surrounding the mansion. A focal point was the Cascades: thirteen-tiered fountains framed by a massive, stone, double stairway, ending at the cobblestone courtyard and the Mansion’s main scroll-designed “E” wrought-iron gates.
Scattered along the grounds were more than 100 pieces of statuary selected by Grace Everett’s brother, George Burnap. Among the workmen, he was ridiculed for his efforts to build a swimming pool doomed from its inception due to a faulty design and location. Today, visitors can see the sunken rose garden with marble pergola, now partially restored.
Stretching over the hillside for ten miles south of Mt. Anthony over Carpenter Hill, Everett and his 45 groundskeepers planted 75,000 apple, 3,000 plum, 2,000 quince and hundreds of pear trees. Extensive ledgers were kept to record the stock’s productivity and health. It became known as the largest, privately-owned orchard in the United States.
Becoming Southern Vermont College
Grace Burnap Everett lived at the Orchards until 1952 when she sold the property, now including 371 acres, to the Foundation of Our Lady of the Holy Cross of Massachusetts for use as a novitiate. Through a swap among local Catholic institutions, the location became the home of St. Joseph’s College in 1974 and later became Southern Vermont College (SVC). Today the College has an enrollment of more than 550 students in its career-enhanced, liberal-arts program, offering 18 majors. SVC is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.