Description - The Park is named for George Perkins Marsh, one of the nation's first global environmental thinkers, who grew up on the property, and for Frederick Billings, an early conservationist who established a progressive dairy farm and professionally managed forest on the former Marsh farm. Frederick Billings' granddaughter, Mary French Rockefeller, and her husband, conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller, sustained Billings' mindful practices in forestry and farming on the property over the latter half of the 20th century. In 1983, they established the Billings Farm & Museum to continue the farm's working dairy and to interpret rural Vermont life and agricultural history. The Billings Farm & Museum is operated as a private nonprofit educational institution by The Woodstock Foundation, Inc.
- Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park was created in 1992, when the Rockefellers gifted the estate's residential and forest lands to the people of the United States. Today, the Park interprets the history of conservation with tours of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller mansion and the surrounding 550-acre forest. The mansion contains an extensive art collection with American landscape paintings by such renowned artists as Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, John Frederick Kensett, and Asher B. Durand. This collection illustrates the influence of art and artists on the developing conservation movement in the mid to late 1800's and changing popular perceptions of the environment. The adjoining forest has been actively managed for wood products, public recreation, aesthetics, education, and ecological values for more than a century, making it one of the oldest planned and continuously managed woodlands in America.
Working in partnership, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and the Billings Farm & Museum present historic and contemporary examples of conservation stewardship and explain the lives and contributions of George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings and his descendants, and Mary and Laurance S. Rockefeller.
Recreation - Visitors to Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller National Historical Park can explore an extensive network of carriage roads and trails through one of the nation's oldest continuously managed forests, established by Frederick Billings in the 1880's on the deforested flanks of Mount Tom. Guided tours and public programs are offered on the history of the forest and larger estate landscape with a special focus on conservation history and the stewardship of working landscapes and countryside. Hiking, nature study and cross-country skiing are recreational activities available to forest visitors.
Guided tours of the 19th century Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller mansion feature landscape paintings by Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt and Asher B. Durand, as well as artists and photographers who in their day helped to shape popular perceptions of the environment. Guided tours of the mansion's gardens and grounds traverse nearly a century of garden history and explore the influence of forest conservation on the Billings estate landscape. Guided tours of the Mount Tom forest follow historic carriage roads through some of the oldest planned forest stands in North America, tracing the early evolution of forest stewardship.
The Billings Farm & Museum is a museum of rural Vermont life featuring a working dairy farm where visitors can learn about the science of modern dairying, as well as the achievements of Frederick Billings 19th century farm operation. Extensive farm life exhibits use artifacts, oral histories, and photographs to depict the seasonal round of activities that shaped the lives and culture of rural Vermonters. The 1890 Farm House, restored and furnished to its 19th century heyday, served as the hub of the farm and forestry operation a century ago and features the farm office, family living quarters, creamery and ice house.
Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller National Historical Park is located in a renowned resort community which lies along the Ottauquechee River and near to numerous historical and recreational attractions. Within a 30-mile radius are the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, downhill and cross-country ski areas, state parks and forests, science and natural history centers, and historic sites including the Calvin Coolidge birthplace and home (Plymouth Notch, VT) and the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site (Cornish, NH).
Climate - Winter daytime temperatures average between 16 and 18 degrees Fahrenheit (between -9 and -8 Celsius). Summer daytime temperatures average between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 and 21 Celsius). Much of the state's precipitation is the result of snow, particularly throughout the mountains. The Heart of Vermont Travel Region has diverse precipitation totals ranging from 40 to 44 inches (102 and 112 centimeters) in the center area of the region decreasing to less than 36 inches (91 centimeters) along the state lines of New York and New Hampshire.
The park is located on Vermont Route 12, 1/2 mile north of the Woodstock Village Green. The park shares a parking lot and Visitor Center with the Billings Farm & Museum.
From Boston and points East: take I-93 North to I-89 North. Follow I-89 through Lebanon, NH into Vermont; take Exit 1/Route 4 West through Quechee and Taftsville to Woodstock (10 miles from Exit 1).
From Burlington and points North: take I-89 South to Exit 1/Route 4 West and continue through Quechee and Taftsville to Woodstock (10 miles from Exit 1).