Our story begins in 1975 when two young artists, Jon and Suzanne Winston, realized that the community needed a great art store. They set up shop in a picturesque storefront on Barre Street in downtown Montpelier.
Let’s fast forward to 1982, Jon and Suzanne had discovered a better location at 22 Main Street in downtown Montpelier. At this time Jon was also busy renovating the building and creating an independent movie theater with his brother, Rick Winston, the now legendary Savoy Theater at 24 Main Street.
By the fall of 1982, Jon and Suzanne were ready to move on. Ray Brown and Jody Wilson had decided to give up art teaching and framing careers in Boston to relocate to Vermont. In January 1983, with a passion for art but no business education they became the proud and terrified owners of The Drawing Board.
In spite of their fears Ray and Jody began to realize that there was a real need for art supplies and framing services for the people of Montpelier and the surrounding areas. The business as well as their romance grew steadily and the two married in 1986.
In 1987 the Browns invested in building a frame making shop in the basement. This allowed them to improve their services and expand their inventory of frame moulding and art materials. Then, the devastating flood of 1992 hit Montpelier. The Drawing Board suffered huge losses. At the time, plans for a store renovation were in the works. The choice was to pull back or to go ahead with the plan in spite of the disaster.
Wonderful friends and the community really pitched in to help. The staff worked around the clock building new furniture and fixtures. The shop was gutted and was completely restored and renovated to its 19th century charm.
In 2000 The Drawing Board expanded into a large second floor work space. This move was created to accommodate a growing need for a state-of-the-art archival framing environment. The move also enabled them to efficiently work on more complex and oversized projects.
Currently, The Drawing Board employs four picture framers and three art materials specialists. Where else can you find four framers with over seventy-five years combined experience? Their dedication to long-term friendly relationships and customer service has shaped The Drawing Board into the art destination it is today.
In October of 2011, The Drawing Board started the next chapter in its long history. Liz Walsh, the art materials manager and buyer, became a co-owner, taking the torch from Ray. Jody and Liz will continue The Drawing Board’s tradition as one of the best independent, locally-owned art shops in Vermont.