Built to house and entertain a crowd, this Sunday River getaway is packed with thoughtful architectural details, natural materials, and newly made family memories.
“There’s an old saying,” says John Treadway, “that the family that plays together, stays together. I think this is true for blended families, too.” Treadway and his longtime girlfriend, Lisa Gordon, met each other after they had already started families, made friends, established careers, and figured out their own likes and dislikes. This can be a tricky dynamic to navigate, particularly if you already have teenaged children, but Gordon and Treadway were determined to create a space where their “extended, blended family,” as Treadway calls it, could bond. And for this outdoorsy bunch, no glue would work quite as well as fresh powder.
Although Treadway grew up skiing in Vermont at Mad River Glen, he was familiar with both Sunday River and Killington. Early in their relationship, they tried all three mountains, but when Treadway brought Gordon to Sunday River for a weekend, she instantly fell in love. For a few years, the Gordon-Treadway crew stayed in rental houses on the mountain slope, but in 2017 they decided to build their own place. They wanted to be able to ski in and ski out, host loads of kids and other guests, and spend their time off in an environment that feels rustic and spacious, cozy and smart. “When I first met Lisa and John, I realized that there was a quintessential goal, which was to house all six members of the family and their friends,” says architect Randall Walter of New Hampshire–based design-build firm Bensonwood Homes.
The house, which was completed in March 2017, is grand in scale and slightly Western in style. In order to figure out what they liked, Gordon and Treadway spent hours scouring real estate websites, looking for interesting ski house listings, and sharing images. There was one house in Wyoming that particularly appealed to Treadway. “Our great room isn’t a copy of that, but it did inspire the arches that go across the room and the trusses that go up the peaks,” he explains. “We deliberately increased the size of some of the timbers to give the home a more substantial feel,” adds Walter. The large exposed beams and the rectangular, heavy masonry (done by Keystone Masonry in Hebron) both speak to a “sense of permanence,” according to Walter. From the soaring ceilings to the engineered wood floors to the textured countertops to the big leather couches, this ski home is rustic and durable—as it should be. “No one should have to worry that they have to get up and get a coaster,” Walter says. “To be relaxed is to not worry about those things. That house, with those finishes, will live up to a carefree lifestyle.”
A few years ago, Gordon heard that Mad River Glen had auctioned off a few of their original seats from their (now defunct) single-chair lift. While all the chairs had been sold, Gordon teamed up with Treadway’s aunt to “leverage the Mad River community network to find me one” as a gift to Treadway. The team at Bensonwood restored the old chair and built a sloped shed roof over the deck to hold it up. Now, it swings and swivels from a metal mount on the porch. Sometimes Treadway likes to face the mountain with a morning cup of coffee and soak in the quiet. Other times he likes to go out with a beer and swing gently while chatting with the folks clustered around the fireplace. “I might have peaked early with that gift,” Gordon laughs. “I might never top it.” Treadway hates to agree, but he recognizes that it’s a really special object. “It ties my Mad River past to my Sunday River present,” he says. “And our shared future.”