David Low's Water Tower Turned Writer's Retreat

Green Tour

Name: David Low
Location: Greensboro, Vermont
Size: 1200 sq/ft
Years lived in: 32, Owned

In the 1970s, a creamery in Hardwick, Vermont caught fire. The late writer David Low salvaged its water tower, hauled it ten miles north to the rural town of Greensboro, and set up a rustic retreat where he could go to focus on his work. Surrounded by the Northeast Kingdom's pine-covered landscape, the "tower on the hill" continues to be a place for creativity, where David's descendants come to write songs, play music, and simply be inspired by the beauty of Vermont's natural landscape.

Navigating the winding dirt driveway can be a challenge, but soon enough, a wood-shingled structure with a shiny tin roof, big glass windows, and fairy-tale pinnacles comes into view. An addition, built with the help of a few friends soon after the tower arrived, houses a kitchen, a bathroom, and an extra bedroom, all simply furnished with the bare essentials found at local yard sales.

In the living room, where David's grandson Corey writes songs every summer, there's a guitar lying beside an antique organ. A spiral staircase winds up to the tower's second story revealing an enchanting round room whose unrivaled views of Caspian Lake make up for its humble furnishings. But this tranquil abode isn't about grandeur, and those simple, elemental pieces are what make this rustic hilltop retreat so endearing.

Re-Nest Survey:

My/Our style: Haphazard bohemians infatuated with beautiful scenery.

Inspiration: Escapism and solitude.

Favorite Element: Wood, water, & the night sky.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping it standing and warding off age and decay e.g. Wood rot. We had to have telephone poles put in through the driveway because the original phone and power lines were stapled to trees, trees that inevitably grew or fell over.

What Friends Say: Our dirt driveway is a quarter mile and often washes out and proves to be an impass for friends so they'd probably say "why don't you come over to our place for dinner?"

Proudest DIY: Cedar shingling the cabin out back.

Biggest Indulgence: We used to have a hot tub on the deck. The quiet is incredible, to get away from the sounds of the city brings an extraordinary peace. Also, seeing the Milky Way with crystal clarity and the shooting stars of August.

Best Advice: Redo the plumbing so it's easy to shut the water off for the winter so as to avoid Niagara Falls coming through the kitchen ceiling in the spring.

Green Elements/Initiatives: Salvaged a water tower from an old Vermont creamery and turned it into a simple oasis of creativity.

Resources:

Furniture: A cultural hodgepodge of furniture that we got from yard sales and auctions over the years. David Low loved playing music and bought a beautiful dark wood foot pump organ locally that is still there today.

Accessories: The jacuzzi bathtub worked for about two years but still gives an incredible space in which to shower while looking out over the sunset as it pours through the pine trees.

Rugs and Carpets: A hodgepodge collected over the years, nothing fancy.

Window Treatments: Big open panes of glass offer views of the natural Vermont landscape by day, and an observatory-like sky view by night.

Beds: No strings are popping through our beds after 30 years of use.

Artwork: Some of my son's kindergarten Picasso-like finger paintings that will be worth a lot of money some day.

Paint: There is no paint on the exterior and the inside doesn't have much, although we do appreciate the rustic feel the slight peeling gives.

Flooring: A beautiful maple floor has lasted us this long, and we expect it to last a long time more.

(Thanks, Patty & Corey!)

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(Images: Celeste Sunderland)