Vermont is full of parks and places for thrill-seeking adventurers of all kinds.
There is one historic place whose 60-year run as a delightful site for generations of family fun came treacherously close to shuttering forever.
Founded in 1957 by Jack Poppele, and later operated by the Brewer Family, Santa’s Land on Route 5 in Putney enchanted children and families for more than 50 years before falling into disrepair. Left vacant for three years, it was eventually put on the market.
Considering its condition, the park could easily have been wiped away by a purchaser hoping to redevelop the large property.
But thanks to magician and auction house co-owner David Haversat, of Oxford, Connecticut, that was not to be. Haversat had grown up visiting the southern Vermont attraction, dreaming of owning it someday. In 2017, he finally got his wish.
Haversat soon began making trips between his Connecticut home and Putney with a car stocked full of cleaning supplies and repair materials, with the goal of creating a new positive chapter in the history of the property.
After working tirelessly with his family members and local contractors to address both the aging and neglected structures as well as extensive vandalism, the park finally opened to the public again for the holiday season in 2017.
Haversat continues to work on the restoration of the many original attractions and quirky buildings portraying fairy book places and characters from the world of the North Pole. Located in a grove of evergreens on 42 acres, the park features a train ride, holiday dioramas with animatronic figures, painted cottages, a kiddie slide, toddler car rides and a historic 32-horse carousel brought in from the famous Astroland in Coney Island.
To many who have loved the place over the decades, the re-opening was a thrill only matched by the delight of children seeing it for the first time.
Thanks to David Haversat, this chapter’s storybook ending at Santa’s Land is only the beginning.
Preservation Award to David Haversat for Santa’s Land in Putney, VT