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Hobby Hill History

I live on the most beautiful place on Ea

The early years

The land eventually known as Hobby Hill Farm was allotted in the 1750's by King George and was part of the New Hampshire land grants. Several contiguous lots comprising about 1,000 acres were purchased by Ashael Kimball. He and his family built the existing farm house sometime between 1750 and 1790. 

The buttery (where Red's Room is) was likely built first for the family to live in as they constructed the bigger house and cleared more land. 

Mary Kimball (Ashael's widow) and her children owned the house and 350 acres until 1875. Subsequent owners were the Moore, Tuthill, Walker, and Perry families. The property was in production farming sheep and as a maple sugar and lumber operation until 1934. 

Billy Flint & Camp Hobby Hill

In 1934, Lillian (Billy) Flint purchased the property and established Hobby Hill Camp, a summer camp for girls, which operated from 1935 until 1955. About fifty campers and ten counselors stayed at the camp every summer, riding horses, swimming, dancing, and going to antique auctions in the village by horse-drawn cart. Many of the decorative arts on the farm buildings (like the mural in the stone cottage) were done by Billy.

Billy Flint was a remarkable woman who was dedicated to making girls into leaders. Every now and again, a former camper (most now in their 80s or 90s) comes by and shares her memories of camping here. 

The stone cottage was built during this time, as were the shower house (now piggery) and the little cabins that you see dotted around the property. Wood from the eight-seater outhouse that the campers used is now in the garden.

Around 1955, Billy had a car accident which curtailed her dancing and horse-riding. She closed up the camp and eventually sold the property.

Photo of Red Chaffee, former owner of Hobby Hill, on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
Photo of Erica Walch, owner of Hobby Hill, with her dog Trixie in her arms and a view of Mount Oregon in the background.

The Chaffees & Hobby Hill Lodge

In 1960, Carlton (Red) Chaffee and Marion Drake Chaffee purchased the property. Marion had operated a Bed & Breakfast in her native Long Island, NY and brought her hospitality skills to Vermont. The couple operated Hobby Hill Lodge for many years, specializing in hosting hunters and other outdoor-loving New Yorkers. 

Marion died in the 1990s, and Red continued to live on the property until his death in 2016, a few weeks shy of his 101st birthday. Red split wood, baked bread, grew hot peppers, and maintained the property to the very end. He was active in local politics and was an engaged citizen of Newfane. 

The Brattleboro Reformer published a lovely story celebrating Red's 100th birthday.,306317 

Hobby Hill Today & Tomorrow

I am Erica Walch (posing here with the late great Trixie). I purchased Hobby Hill in 2017 and set to work clearing land and starting to farm and offer vacation rentals.

I now farm pigs, saffron, and laying hens, and hope to add more offerings in the next few years. 

The first farm stay space (Red's Room, named in honor of Red Chaffee) opened in 2018. The stone cottage opened in 2021. 

Land clearing continues tree by tree. Everyone who stays at Hobby Hill or purchases our products contributes to the restoration plan. Thank you!

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