The Killington Access Road boasts some of the ski world's most
famous après spots, including restaurants, lodges, and nightclubs.
Although the road existed prior to the ski area's founding, it was
a sparsely settled dirt path that possessed none of the
jump-and-jive zest for life for which it became famous, starting in
The "Access Road," officially called Killington Road, starts at
the intersection of Route 4 and winds its way four miles south to
Today, après-ski activities extend to soaking in a hot tub,
getting a massage, ice skating, tubing, or any number of
activities-sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, snowshoe jaunts, and
groomer rides among them. But the après-snow activities for which
the Killington Access Road became famous and that national magazine
articles consistently tout continue to be the après-ski restaurant
venues and nightclubs.
When it comes to rankings, the Access Road hot spots invariably
show up in the Top Ten and the Access Road itself is often regarded
as "après-ski personified" with SKI Magazine often ranking it
number one in the East.
In talking to locals, there is agreement that (the late) Jack
Giguere more than any other single individual put "the road on the
But that story actually begins with Giguere's fraternity brother
Tom Standish, who recalled that he had invested in Killington stock
in 1961 and familiar with the Baggy Knees in Stowe saw a need for a
large nightclub in Killington. (The lounge at the Red Rob and Skol
Shed were smaller venues in 1963.)
Standish was managing the Ski Bunk for Gene Stiles when he
discussed the idea with Jack Giguere and they decided to do the
Phoebe Standish, Tom's sister and Jack's first wife, recalled
that George Stevenson also invested as a small partner in the
Wobbly. Stevenson had created the Ski Bunk Lodge in 1959 and sold
to Stiles, a skier who won the Irish Sweeptakes (a NJ horse race)
twice, enabling him to move to Killington.
Phoebe noted that their grandmother lived in Bridgewater and
that their family skied. Tom and Jack had met in college (UCONN)
and Jack had tagged along on ski trips, she said, explaining his
route to Killington.
So in 1963 the partners bought the old red Bates farmhouse (home
to Pres and Sue Smith until 1962) and an adjacent parcel of land on
which they built the Wobbly Barn.
Phil Camp, Killington's first public relations director,
recalled that there had been a significant effort to bring a large
restaurant and evening entertainment to the area, and that Smith
worked hard on getting someone to build it. "Smith and Giguere were
negotiating a contract and Smith was driving as hard a bargain as
he could. Suddenly, Giguere said, 'It's time to bring this to a
head.' With that there was a tremendous thunderclap as the heavens
shook the mountain, and Smith signed with lightning speed," Camp
Tom recalled that the Proctor Trust "loaned us money with very
little equity on our part" as they were also Killington's bank, he
said noting Killington had gone to bat for them to get the
Designed by a Connecticut architect, the Wobbly Barn is an
authentic replica of a New England-styled barn with the boards
coming from ten old barns that the partners found by driving around
New England. The restaurant and lounge opened December 20,1963, and
many a "ski bum" began his or her career waiting on tables or
tending bar there. The quintessential ski-bum couple to meet
working at the Wobbly was (the late) Ted Bridges, who was a
bartender and manager there, and Sally Bridges, who waited
Phoebe, who also worked at the Wobbly recalled the days when it was
first a supper club bound by "blue laws" that mandated if anyone
moved from their table to another table, a waiter or waitress had
to carry their drink to the next table for them.
The sixties were the days of offering music of the Joe Paige
Trio, a popular jazz group, as well as rock n' roll. With its
rustic atmosphere and rollicking fun, skiers clamored to get in,
making it a popular nightspot and well worth the $4,000 that was
paid for both the farmhouse and the land!
In 1964 the adjacent farmhouse was converted to the Farmhouse
Lodge, which Phoebe ran for a year. Jack Giguere bought out his
partners in 1965. (Today, Judy Storch, who established
Killington Valley Real Estate there in 1972, owns the farmhouse and
Killington Resort owns the Wobbly Barn.)
Giguere also developed The Pickle Barrel into a popular
nightclub. It was originally built as the Sugar Shack in 1964 by
Gene Stiles. Billy Shea was running it as a nightclub known as
Showcase East when Giguere drove his car into it one day.
Preferring to buy the damaged building rather than repair it for
its owner, he purchased it (November 1972) and started the Pickle
Chris Karr, who got his start at the Wobbly in 1981 as a barback
and doorman, took on a management position at the Pickle Barrel in
1984 and bought the club from Giguere's estate in 1999. He
re-energized and re-branded the nightclub as a concert venue -"The
House That Rocks Killington.")
In 1971, Giguere built Charity's 1887 Saloon and Restaurant,
which features an authentic ambiance with ornate antique bar from
West Virginia and rustic décor. (Charity's is now owned and
operated by Phoebe's and Jack's son Scott). Known for a lively
happy hour with ski movies and good food, the restaurant was very
popular, giving Giguere three of the most acclaimed nightspots and
après-ski restaurants in Vermont!
One of the more astute and financially successful businessmen in
town, Giguere also owned the Fireside Lodge, Pasta Pot, and Alpine
Inn (restaurant) at one time.
Judy Storch recalls that Jack was "an incredible wheeler dealer"
who even convinced her to sell a lot she owned. She laughed as she
recalled that he called her one busy day to ask if she would sell a
lot she owned and she said no. He called again, asking if it were
for sale, what was it worth. She told him $5,000 to $6,000 but she
wasn't selling. The tenacious Giguere called again, admitted he was
looking for a lot for a friend, and somehow wore her down so she
agreed to sell it for $4,400.
But, she called him back and said, "We haven't signed a contract
yet; the price is $5,000, take it or leave it," adding, "I learned
this from you Jack."
"He really was an incredible wheeler dealer and you just had to
learn from him. He was so funny, too," Storch said, noting his many
other talents and lamenting that he died young from illness in the
1990s. She noted his nightclub legacy as well as "the experience so
many others gained from working at his establishments."
Giguere didn't build the first night spot in Killington - the
Skol Shed was the first and only establishment in the basin with a
liquor license in 1959-60 (now an office). Nor was he the only one
to build a nightclub -Jeff Gehris opened the Nightspot Nightclub in
1981 (now operated by Casey Compton as Outback Pizza &
Additionally, there are many venues that offer live
entertainment now. But it was the legendary Giguere who first made
the Access Road synonymous with après-ski and nightlife. That is a
legacy that complements the contribution of the pioneers who built
the ski area and that continues to attract people to the mountain
and for which he is fondly remembered.