House-hunting in Guilford: Beaver-dam edition


GUILFORD -- On a tranquil property near the Massachusetts line, there's a fixer-upper home available for the right tenant.

You don't need a good credit rating or a long-term loan to get in the door -- the place is free. But there are some qualifications: You'd need to have a taste for leaves and bark, and webbed feet and naturally water-resistant fur are highly recommended.

Oh, and don't forget to bring a big, strong set of teeth.

Don Guttenplan sums it up this way: "The question is, how do we get a beaver back?"

He and his wife, Maria Margaronis, are Guilford residents who are the masterminds behind a unique advertisement that ran Friday in the Reformer.

Like any good classified notice, it is succinct: "Beaver Lodge & Dam. Fixer-upper, Guilford, FREE to industrious beaver in need of home. Must have own teeth. Serious offer. 802-257-5683. Before Aug. 21st!"

It's a whimsical ad that, as noted, carries a serious request. Guttenplan and Margaronis are writers who currently work as London correspondents for The Nation, but they've owned property in Guilford for more than three decades.

"There's a pond at the edge of our land. It's been here since before we started coming here," Guttenplan said. "In fact, if you look on the cover of the James Taylor album ‘One Man Dog,' that picture was taken here."

That pond was the handiwork of some industrious beavers. While it never was particularly deep, the spot at one point allowed for some swimming and, to hear Guttenplan tell it, has contributed to the general serenity of their spread.

"We loved having the beaver around. He was a very reassuring presence," Guttenplan said. "We missed him -- we noticed when he was gone."

The beaver's absence was noted a few years ago when Guttenplan and his wife noted blood on the ice in the winter. A neighbor informed them that some kids had shot the beaver.

"And of course, without a beaver to maintain the dam, the pond is disappearing," Guttenplan said. "Now, it's almost completely gone."

Hence the plea in the local classifieds. Find a beaver who's willing to relocate, the logic goes, and the rodent immediately will set to work patching up the beaver lodge and the beaver dam, leading to the pond's restoration.

That's dependent on an affirmative answer to the ad, though. Guttenplan and Margaronis have faith: Being self-described "print people," they subscribe to the notion that "advertising makes it happen."

They suggested the solicitation be listed under "help wanted," though it actually ran as "real estate for sale." No matter the header, it might get more results than an inquiry with Vermont Fish & Wildlife, which produced no answers.

"I wanted to talk to whoever's in charge," Guttenplan said. "I thought we might offer to take one in."

Not everyone feels so warm and fuzzy about beavers. This year alone, there have been several local roads washed out when beaver dams broke.

"A lot of people regard beavers as a pest, and certainly I have sympathy for that," Guttenplan said.

But, for the sake of the slowly shrinking pond just over his property line, Guttenplan was willing to open his wallet and go public with his need for a furry neighbor. He requires little prodding to talk up the available accommodations.

"It's a very well-maintained dam and lodge," Guttenplan said. "It just needs a tenant."

Mike Faher can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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