In 2004, Julie Moir Messervy, a prominent figure in the esoteric realm of high-end design, uprooted from the Boston area and moved her business to a speck on the map called Saxtons River, Vermont. The decision was a gamble — she was already well established where she was, with a client list that included Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and celebrity cellist Yo-Yo Ma — but the chance to live in Vermont’s open spaces and natural beauty seemed worth the risk.
Messervy, who was 53 at the time, had raised three children with her first husband in bustling Wellesley, Massachusetts, writing landscape books and drawing designs at her dining room table while tending to her family, in the latter years as a single mom. Now that the kids were launched, she told her second husband, longtime Vermonter Steve Jonas, that she would relocate so they could make a rural home together. “I had lived in cities and I had lived in suburbs, but I had never lived in the country,” she says. “I realized that a landscape designer should learn the real fundamentals of living close to the land.”