Since it was built in 1927, Barnes Camp, on the Stowe side of Smugglers' Notch, has served as a base lodge, a ski dorm and a gift shop, among other incarnations. For the past couple of decades it hasn't been used for anything but storage. But on Saturday, that will change as the old building – now fully renovated – gets new life as a visitor center for the Smugglers’ Notch State Park and Scenic Highway.
The restoration project started in September 2013. The building was moved and a new foundation poured. After the camp was replaced on its new foundation, an addition was built to house modern bathrooms using a rain collection system and state-of-the-art composting toilets.
Seth Jensen has been overseeing the Barnes Camp project for the Lamoille County Planning Commission. He said the restroom addition will be open during the day, even when the volunteer-run visitor center is closed. The center will initially be staffed on the weekends by Green Mountain Club volunteers.
"And we're going to be looking for other volunteers to staff other days during the week," said Jensen.
The visitor center will house an information desk and revolving exhibits on the history, geology, and ecology of the Smugglers’ Notch area.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who helped secure funding for the project, will be on hand for a grand opening event at 1:45 p.m. Saturday. Barnes Camp is located across from the Mt. Mansfield entrance to Stowe Mountain Resort on Vermont Route 108, also known as the Mountain Road, in Stowe.