Middlebury College Snow Bowl
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The Middlebury College Snow Bowl was developed beginning in 1937 within the area of the Battell wilderness bequest (see entry for Breadloaf Campus). There, at the base of trails pouring off of Worth Mountain and opposite a ski jump, the Burlington (VT) firm of Freeman, French and Freeman designed the Starr Ski Lodge, first as a small lodge with a huge exterior stone fireplace in 1957, then with a galleried and glazed commons space in 1962. Framed by lower wings that accommodate food services, first aid, and a library, the sweeping gable of the balconied main room focuses inward on the stone fireplace and outward through an angled wall of south-facing glass to a deck and the slopes. The ski jump has been dismantled, but the rest of the complex has remained actively in use, with upgrades to equipment but no major changes to the character of the base lodge and its setting.
Skiing has long been a part of the Middlebury scene. As the Vermont ski industry was taking off early in the twentieth century, the College developed a skiing hill and jump on Chipman Hill in Middlebury Village. Then it developed the Snow Bowl on its mountain lands, served at first by a small cabin that still exists as reputedly the earliest extant base lodge in America. Its successor, the Neil Starr Shelter of 1962, with its broadly gabled roof and glazed façade, captured the modernism of mid-century ski areas. Like its sister ski areas, the Snow Bowl has upgraded its lifts and added snow-making equipment over the years. However, unlike the commercial areas, there was no need to remodel its base lodge. As a result the Starr Shelter preserves a glimpse of what skiing in its youth in Vermont, before the advent of large leisure corporations and condo communities on the slopes. It remains a precious document in the history of Vermont seasonal sports.
Wallace Floyd Design Group. Middlebury College Master Plan. [Boston, MA: Wallace Floyd Design Group], 2000.