A Brief History of the Inn
Forty Putney Road Bed and Breakfast is situated on land that once belonged to the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, later called the Brattleboro Retreat.
Dr. Horace G. Ripley and the Trustees began planning to build a superintendent’s residence in the fall of 1929. Up until that time,
superintendents of the Retreat resided in a second story apartment in the main building of the Retreat.
The new residence, French Baronial in architecture, was built on Putney Road on land that the Retreat purchased earlier from Judge Chase. Dr. Ripley and his family first occupied the house in 1931. A private path was built starting in the lower garden and making its way through the woods to the Retreat. You can still walk that path today. The gardens were planted at the time the house was built and were originally maintained as part of the therapy program for patients at the Retreat.
The back yard boasts one of the largest (possibly the largest) Cut Leaf Japanese Maple trees in the United States and overlooks the “Retreat Meadows.” In a complex arrangement, the Retreat granted the local power company the right to raise their dam in 1918, thereby flooding the former meadows just north of the Retreat and creating the present scenic body of water visible from the second story of the home and the rear of the property. This home quickly became a community landmark and continued to be occupied by each of the Superintendants of the Retreat until 1983 when it was sold to a private owner to help offset a budget shortfall.
Dr. Ripley had the residence designed to resemble a French chateaux with which his daughter, or wife, (depending on which version of the story you hear) fell in love. Each of the four bedrooms has its own bathroom and all of the fixtures and tiles are original to the house. There are built in bookcases and cabinets in almost every room. No expense was spared in the construction of the home. The master bedroom suite contains a fireplace, French doors separating the bedroom from the dressing room and an original built-in dresser. The most interesting room in the house is probably the tiny bathroom tucked in under the stairs in the main hallway.
The house remained privately owned until 1992, when it was converted to a bed and breakfast. It has been operating in that capacity ever since. In the late 1990’s 911 emergency service was introduced to the area and the address of the home was changed to 192 Putney Road. However, since the home was already an established bed and breakfast as “Forty Putney Road”, the owners decided to keep the name. The name remains a tribute to its past to this day.
There have been a few changes made to the interior over the years. The maid’s quarters, adjacent to the kitchen, have been converted to the innkeeper’s office and den. We have converted the formal dining room into an “Irish Pub” where guests may choose from a wide selection of beer, wine and champagne. Breakfasts are now served in the Conservatory off the living room. The third floor art studios were converted into the innkeeper’s living quarters and gas fireplaces have been added to several rooms. The most interesting change has been the conversion of the original carriage house into two luxury rooms.
The current innkeeper, Rhonda Calhoun, took over in December of 2012. She and the former innkeepers have worked to restore the property to its original grandeur while adding luxury amenities for guests.