The Journey to Swift House Inn’s New Road Sign on VT Route 7

Swift House Inn road sign
Presenting the pretty new Swift House Inn road sign on VT Route 7. Photo by Anna Wright

It’s a sign of the times! In January 2022, Swift House Inn got a new road sign on VT Route 7 featuring our fierce new swift bird logo. For the first time ever, the road sign will be perpendicular to the street instead of parallel with it. This means that people driving by will actually be able to see the sign!

Read on to learn more about our journey to our new sign design and installation.

swift house inn sign
The 2022 road sign for Swift House Inn, Middlebury, Vermont. Caleb Kenna Photography

Find a Master Signmaker

Our innbroker Tim Piper (the wedding king of Vermont) recommended Wood & Wood Sign Systems in Waitsfield for our signage needs. Tim hadn’t led us astray so far, so we obeyed and phoned up Sparky Potter. He is the owner and proprietor of Wood & Wood, whose clients include the Woodstock Inn and Chatham Bars Inn. (Fun fact: he’s also the father of Grammy Award-winning recording artist Grace Potter.) We were thrilled when he came out in early summer for a design consultation to get a lay of the land.

Our biggest problem was that our huge road sign was tucked in a deep recess off the road and was parallel to the street. Drivers cruising by would rarely notice it. However, people filling up a tank at Maplefield’s had a great view of the old sign! We just wanted it to be more noticeable and attract more attention.

old swift house inn sign
The old sign for Swift House Inn, 2021, Middlebury, Vermont. Caleb Kenna Photography

Our second problem was that Swift House Inn is dispersed across four acres of land and divided into three buildings. For first-time visitors, finding the proper entrance for registration can be confusing. Our presence on Route 7, the Gate House, is actually one of our lesser used buildings. The Main House—where all of the dining and checking-in takes place—is tucked away on Stewart Lane. We can’t tell you how many times people try to find Jessica’s restaurant in the Gate House! Fortunately, during the design consultation with Sparky, he reassured us that he would come up with a sign system to solve these problems.

These are the handwritten notes for the working drawing of the sign.

Designing the Sign

Drawings of the new signs flew back and forth between Matthew and Sparky, with much talk of measurements, town codes, and gas lines. Finally they agreed on signs that were visible from the street and adhered to our exceedingly rigorous brand guidelines, as well as the concerns of the town officials.

The Old Sign Comes Down

One cold winter morning, Phil and Matthew went down to edge of the great lawn with power drills and a ladder to dismantle the old sign. It was pretty easy to take down and take apart. Now it will hold a place of honor decorating one of the barn walls. It served its purpose faithfully for many years.

New Posts Go Up

Sparky asked Matthew to make sure that two very deep 4-foot holes be dug in the place where the new sign was to be erected. Middlebury Fence Company dug two holes, which Matthew covered with some plywood so nobody would fall in. Another wintry day, two skilled professionals from Wood & Wood inserted the carefully carved white posts and secured them until they didn’t budge. As they were working, our electrician Dennis Newton happened to be driving and pulled his truck over to see what we were up to. He recommended a way to wire it so we’ll have plenty of juice when it’s time to hang holiday lights.

Choosing the Perfect Paint Color

After the sign posts went up, Matthew and I were extremely excited for the sign to actually be installed. While we were waiting, Wood & Wood contacted us and said that the color of blue that we were very particular about would not stand up to the harsh Vermont weather.

To prevent fading and discoloration, they suggested that we go with a tried and true Benjamin Moore paint color that was pre-mixed and not custom mixed for our needs.

We were worried. We were determined to protect our selection of navy blue no matter what, so we drove back up to Waitsfield to fight for the color we wanted. But when we saw the color that the artisan had selected for our sign, Gentlemen’s Grey, it totally satisfied our needs. It looked amazing and perfectly on-brand, so we approved the color change.

The Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

The staff from Swift House Inn and the crew from the Addison County Chamber of Commerce made this ribbon-cutting ceremony happen. Photo by Anna Wright

As proud members of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, we were able to schedule a ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of this new road feature. We connected with Phil Summers from the Chamber, and set up a date in February. Folks from the Chamber of Commerce met with us on Route 7 and handed us the red ribbon and the giant scissors, which were truly the best part of the experience. The hardworking members of our team who happened to be around that day were Melinda Forbes, Sarah Lucia, Anna Wright, Todd Gordon, and Jeremy Thomas. Matthew and I were so happy to finally cut the ribbon and christen this new sign. It has been a long time coming!

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