WOODBURY — On a site that was previously known locally as the Samuel Bull Homestead, new property owners Michael and Jonathan Vartelis have created an impressive reimagining of a disparate grouping of buildings that is just the beginning of their grand vision. They titled the property Woodbury Barns and Farm as a nod to the historic setting.
Future plans include an authentic French wine cave in the former horse stables, a spa in the old general store that is part of the property, and a spacious fine dining restaurant and bar, among many other concepts. Now, the energetic pair have their hands full with a rustic-chic antiques shop in the main barn that aims to have “something for everyone,” an art gallery, a burgeoning wedding and event venue, and a six-room bed and breakfast in a 1706 dwelling built by the town’s first blacksmith.
The bed and breakfast welcomes children and pets, even providing an outdoor doghouse. The building features a bridal suite with private entrance, padded walls and two separate closets. Working hearths in the kitchen and spacious living room offer welcoming warmth. There is also a hidden door in the hallway that purportedly concealed runaway slaves as part of the underground railroad, and a small second staircase that delights children.
Michael Vartelis, CEO and creative director and Jonathan Vartelis, COO and design director, are also on a mission to help support and promote their friends, neighbors and community. Michael said, “Our goal is to eventually have 100 percent local procurement of food, drink, art, even toiletries. We welcome local artists to hold their openings here and we will help them in any way we can. As a chef, I offer our B&B guests breakfast, but also encourage them to try one of our in-town restaurants.”
They have joined the local Chamber of Commerce and asked all their neighbors for their ideas on helping them to grow a community. They also encourage their visitors and guests to drop in at local Woodbury businesses and attractions. They offer the use of their property for nonprofits and in late September the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition staged a hugely successful annual gala, overlooking the swan pond with a spouting waterfall. They also hope to welcome their newest neighbor, Empowerment Lab, a nonprofit just a short distance from the farm.