We didn’t immediately see the falls as we pulled off Route 14 into an ample parking area next to a typical Vermont farmhouse, built in 1852, and two large barns, one built specifically to house oxen in 1839. But we could hear it. It was obviously up there in the woods behind the barns. Owner Bob Edebohls, whose late father bought this 45-acre property 55 years ago, came out to greet us and then escort us up a well-groomed walkway, lined with azaleas, rhododendrons, and other perennials, to the falls.
Originating in a small lake far above and cascading down over 130 feet of boulders and rocks, they’re breathtakingly beautiful. Both of them. Yes, out of sight from where we were standing initially, there’s an upper falls, too. Surely all of this is one of Vermont’s treasures, although, surprisingly enough, and despite being featured years ago as a backdrop for Salem cigarette advertisements, it’s relatively unknown to most tourists today.
A certain 38 married couples know about it, however. That’s how many people have been married here over the past few years. Bob recently built a beautiful gazebo overlooking the falls for the ceremonies, along with a wooden amphitheater among the pines that can accommodate up to 200 guests. Down below, behind the barns, he has a large tent with dance floor for receptions; he supplies the tables and chairs as well ($3,000 to $4,500, depending on the number of guests).
“So far, it’s never rained at a wedding here,” he told us as we walked up wooden stairs to the gazebo, “and so far every couple who’s been married here next to the falls is still married!” Wow again!
The original owner of this property, a man named Alden Jeudevine, didn’t, of course, think of these falls in any romantic way. For him, back in the mid-1800s, they simply represented power. He built a mill here to cut shingles and grind corn. There’s no trace of it today, but Bob, who opened the property to the public just nine years ago, calls it “Jeudevine Falls.”
Divorced years ago and with his grown son located out West, Bob lives alone here now, working on improving the property “every single day.” And it shows. We could have sat there in that gazebo watching the falls for hours. It would be such fun at night, too, because Bob recently installed lights to shine on it, making Jeudevine Falls one of, he maintains, only three fully lighted natural waterfalls in the world. (The other two: Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and, of course, Niagara Falls. Others? Well, we don’t know of any.)
Eventually, it was our moseying duty to look at the rest of the property.
There’s nothing fancy about the house: just a well-built Vermont farmhouse. The large master bedroom and only bathroom, along with the eat-in kitchen, living room, Bob’s office, and access to a two-car garage, are on the first floor. Upstairs are three bedrooms, and there’s a full basement. The larger of the two barns, a rather rare English bank-style barn, looks strong and beautifully constructed, as does the smaller barn, although it’s less interesting.
Bob told us he grew up here, starting at age 5, and attended a nearby one-room schoolhouse that is no more. So, we wondered, with that sort of emotional connection, why sell? Well, turns out the answer is that for health reasons, Bob now needs to live in a dry climate–something like New Mexico or Arizona. And for sure, Hardwick, Vermont, has never been accused of having “a dry climate.” Well, okay–how much?
“For everything,” he answered, “$1,700,000. That includes the house, barns, 45 acres, the waterfalls, gazebo, grandstand, gardens, tent, tables, and oodles of stuff like lawnmowers, tractors, and you-name-it stashed away in those barns.” Sure, lots of value there, we thought, but perhaps we momentarily blanched a hair at that figure. “Look,” Bob said quickly, “Donald Trump’s waterfall at his Florida golf course supposedly cost him $8 million. Same for Oprah Winfrey’s. And not long ago, the State of Vermont paid about $1,600,00 for two waterfalls–one in Stowe, the other in Warren–and neither one had any buildings or anything. Just the falls alone.”
Well, all that did make his price sound okay to us. And after all, there’s no question that everybody–like, everybody–loves a waterfall.
To book a wedding or just visit the falls, call 802-472-5486 or go to Bob Edebohls’ Web site: waterfallswedding.com. For details on the property, contact Sharon Moore at Sally Pratt Real Estate, Lancaster, NH. 800-371-2131, 802-249-1314 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org