My last post featured the Austrian family home of the famous von Trapp Family who were depicted in the film The Sound of Music.
Today I am focusing on the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont.
The von Trapp family came to the United States in the late 1930’s as refugees after the occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938. The family toured around America singing for audiences and on one of those tours, they discovered the beauty of Vermont.
The family was transfixed; the landscape reminded them of the mountainous region of the Alps from which they were exiled. An opportunity presented itself and the family decided unanimously to buy an old farmstead near Stowe, Vermont with close to 700 acres of meadowland and rolling hills.
When we started our concert tour in America in 1939, we had no headquarters until Mr. Drinker offered us a house in Merion, PA, where we stayed until moving to Stowe in 1943. The summer of 1942, we stayed in Stowe, VT, where we purchased a beautiful farm on top of Luce Hill, surrounded by three valleys that reminded us of Austria.
– from: http://www.trappfamily.com/
The property came with several old barns and a ramshackle farmhouse. The old farmhouse actually fell down around the family shortly after they moved in during a snowstorm in March of 1943. No one was injured and the resilient, determined family rebuilt with their own hands and the help of many new friends.
According to Maria von Trapp’s autobiography The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, when the family was clearing out the ruins of the old farmhouse they found newspapers under layers of wallpaper that dated back to the year 1832!
The Trapp family, with the help of a contractor, built a Swiss style chalet that could house all twelve of them, plus several guests. They named their new home “Cor Unum” – Latin for: One Heart.
The Trapp family worked diligently to bring the surrounding fields back to life. They planted numerous gardens, and took on cows, horses and pigs. They also began ‘maple sugaring’ with sap from the trees on their property.
The Trapps continued to make their living by doing concert tours around North America. In 1945, they created a new revenue source: The Trapp Family Music Camp.
The music camp was set up in an old army barracks down the hill from the Trapp farm in Vermont. The entire Trapp family hosted the summer events and taught music and folk dancing to scores of enthusiastic “campers”.
In 1956 after more than 2000 appearances around the world, The Trapp Family Singers retired. That same year, the successful Trapp Family Music Camp discontinued operations.
But this was not the end of a long illustrious career of hosting and entertaining. Rather, the Trapps refocused their boundless energy into turning their large family home into a lodge for visitors. In 1948, they had built the first addition to the lodge in order to accommodate guests.
By the 1950’s, they were running a year-round 27 room hotel. The Trapps became known for their hospitality and the quaint European atmosphere they provided at the Trapp Family Lodge.
Tragedy struck, however, in December of 1980 when the lodge burnt completely down to the ground, killing one guest who was trapped inside. No cause of the fire was ever determined. Members of the Trapp family were devastated but they once again rallied together around a common goal and had a larger, more modern facility built. The hotel reopened to the public in 1983.
Since then, the sports and leisure facilities at the hotel have been constantly expanding to include a health and fitness spa, swimming pools, and a world class cross country skiing center.
Stowe Vermont is known for its alpine ski hills, but Johannes von Trapp (the youngest of the 10 children) spearheaded the opening of the Cross Country Ski Center in 1968 on the grounds of the lodge – the first of its kind in the United States. It is still considered the foremost cross country ski touring location in America.
The Trapp family lost their famed matriarch Maria von Trapp in 1987 after a short illness. She is buried alongside her husband and one of the children in a family cemetery within a sheltered meadow behind the lodge. Below is the actual Trapp Family cemetery on the grounds of their lodge in Stowe, Vermont:
Maria and her husband Georg Trapp’s grave-sites:
What a wonderful place to rest in peace.
In addition to the cemetery, lush gardens and flower beds are maintained throughout the property:
Today the Trapp Family Lodge features 93 rooms plus numerous chalet guest houses and villas that are available for rent. It is still owned and operated by direct descendants of the Trapp Family Singers.
In 2007 Sam von Trapp, the son of Johannes (and grandson of Maria), became the Vice President of the Lodge. That same year, the resort started developing mountain bike trails on the property which today encompasses over 2,500 acres.
Inside the lodge…
The dining room…
I love this image (below) with the harp in the corner:
The guest rooms are decorated with a touch of the Austrian Alps…
A peek at the lodge’s famed health and fitness center….
I’m sure I am not alone when I say this is one of the most heart-warming family stories I have ever read about.
The von Trapp family – immortalized in The Sound of Music - overcame tremendous adversity time and time again by remaining a close, committed family unit who believed deeply in their faith and in the virtues of hope and hard work.
The Trapp family in Vermont circa 1943…
The Trapp family descendants today…
The secret to their success and tenacity:
Cor Unum – One Heart
* If you missed my previous post on the von Trapp family’s first residence in Salzburg, Austria, you can view it here.