V. Hansmann ’72
By his own admission, V. Hansmann ’72 said turning his life around after youthful rebellion and excess during his college years led to his current literary-satisfying mission of running a writers’ retreat in North Bennington, Vt.
“I purchased a derelict nursing home in December 2018, spent two years renovating it, and opened it as a 12-bedroom writers’ residency this past June,” V said of his Prospect Street Writers House. The renovation of the Victorian house earned an Honor Award for Historic Preservation from the Vermont Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2021.
V. Hansmann ’72
V. Hansmann ’72 at the Writers House.

V runs “the front of the house,” schmoozing guests, cooking dinner for as many as 14 residents, and doing the endless housekeeping chores inherent with running an inn. For him, it’s a way of going back to his roots as a would-be writer before college life took over.

“My academic major at Hamilton was English, but my true majors were beer and pot,” he admitted. “I did not graduate with my class, nor did I graduate in 1974 following my second time as a senior at the College.”

Memories that stand out during his years on the Hill are his participation in the student strike following Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and driving to California and back in a week after fall houseparty weekend in 1970.

After leaving Hamilton that second time, V worked a series of literature-related jobs, culminating in a long stint at his father’s Wall Street office helping to manage other people’s money. “When the office closed in 2008, I decided to become the English major I always intended to be,” he said.

V’s first reckoning came in 1985. “I got sober and slowly my life got better,” he said. Then the Bennington Writing Seminars MFA program admitted him without a bachelor’s degree. He graduated in 2011 with a concentration in poetry and nonfiction.

With that degree in hand, he could call himself a writer, not just somebody who wrote. “What I loved more than anything was the company of other writers. It was a real come-to-Jesus experience,” V said.

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He now takes fulfilling pleasure with his retreat house in providing a quiet haven that can open the gate to creativity, jump-start a stalled project, renew lagging confidence, put finishing touches on a manuscript, and restore the solitary writer’s sense of community. 

V plans to supervise Prospect Street for another 10 years and hopes the business will be running in the black soon.

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