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House for Sale: Bear Foot Farm

Known as Bear Foot Farm, it was built in the year before the Civil War began. During Prohibition, it took part in smuggling booze into the United States out of Canada. Yes, for those of us who aren’t Canadians, it’s a long drive up to North Troy, Vermont, where the rolling countryside is mostly open fields and meadows, and the views–in this case, from the front porch–are spectacular. The swimming pool behind the main house is pretty spectacular, too, as you look up at Bear Mountain looming nearby and the Canadian border.

How much do you think such a place is selling for this spring? Before you guess a figure, know that the property is a little more than four acres, and the 1,880-square-foot, 10-room house has four bedrooms, two baths, a lovely living room, an eat-in kitchen, a family room, a library, and a cellar with an oil-fired furnace (two woodstoves, too). Besides all that, you must consider that it’s been recently updated throughout, with, for instance, new thermal-pane windows looking out at those drop-dead views. Oh, and there’s a newly furnished two-story (2,528-square-foot), two-bedroom apartment in the barn, as well as a greenhouse and a spacious workshop/garage area.

So what figure would you put on all that? Well, if you guessed something close to a million, you’d be in the ballpark for anything similar down around the southern part of New England. But North Troy, Vermont, is located between Jay Peak, the famous ski resort particularly popular with Canadians, and Lake Memphremagog, that huge body of water that Vermont shares with Canada. (Canadians would, of course, say that they share Lake Memphremagog with Vermont. Well, whatever.) So the asking price is just $289,000– $30,000 less if you omit the barn and an acre or so.

Reminds us of the moseying trip we took to Lubec and Eastport, Maine, back in January 2010. Remember that? We found really nice oceanfront properties (meaning right on the ocean) for under $300,000. But Lubec and Eastport are also a long, long drive northeast of where most of us live. (Incidentally, if you’d be interested in what’s available on the ocean up there this month, call Denise Plouffe at 877-700-5511, or visit

Getting back to Bear Foot Farm … The current owners with whom we visited recently are Alice Morrison, a Ph.D. in folklore, who was raised in Alaska by parents who, she says, always subscribed to Yankee Magazine, and her partner, Stan Phaneuf, a Dartmouth graduate (Class of ’70) and professional photographer. They met via (a story in itself!) and purchased Bear Foot Farm nine years ago. Since then, they’ve put their hearts and souls into the property. The landscaping is beautiful, the 1860 house is now like brand-new, and Stan himself converted the barn into the lovely livable space it is today.

So why are they selling? Well, it seems that Alice contracted Lyme disease years ago, and she still requires regular treatment. Since her doctor is in the Hanover, New Hampshire, area, they recently decided to move to someplace near there.

Yes, although both look young enough to be college students, they each have grown children from past relationships–Alice three, Stan one–but none of them is inclined to live in northern Vermont.

So it is that Bear Foot Farm is available. Maybe, unless you’re Canadian, it’s too far away to consider. But we can pretty much guarantee this: Once there, you won’t want to leave.

For details, contact Dianne Laplante, Coldwell Banker All Seasons Realty, Newport, VT. 802-334-7277 (office), 802-334-4033 (direct), 802-744-2335 (home);;

Updated Thursday, April 26th, 2012
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