Best 18th-Century Inns: 7 Runners-Up
The home’s living room once served as the town’s courtroom, and one back room used to be the town post office. There are now two guestrooms in the main house; a self-contained carriage house unit features a fridge and microwave. A full breakfast is served in the fully restored 18th-century kitchen.
122 Main St., Cherryfield, ME; 207-546-2337; englishmansbandb.com
$70-$155, including full breakfast
The 1774 Inn
In 1775 the British burned most of Falmouth (now Portland), so it’s a bit ironic that today both Maine B&Bs dating from this period (see Blue Skye Farm) are owned by Brits. Jacqueline Hogg and John Atkinson have thoroughly and deftly restored this imposing, cupola-topped Georgian mansion, built in 1774 and home to Maine’s first congressman. It’s still one the most beautiful houses in the state. Grounds sweep down to the Kennebec River; the massive front door and paneling throughout are original. Common rooms are a mix of elegance and comfort; hearths are frequently lit in the sitting room and breakfast room (the original kitchen). We wish that the inn didn’t close November through April, especially given its convenient location on the Phippsburg Peninsula, south of Bath.
Guests may choose from eight antiques-furnished rooms: Four are spacious and classically proportioned; three are smaller but thoughtfully decorated; and then there’s also the rustic but luxurious “Woodshed Room,” with doors opening onto the lawn.
44 Parker Head Road, Phippsburg, Maine; 207-389-1774; 1774inn.com
$150-$230, including full breakfast
Historic Merrell Inn
South Lee, Massachusetts
A double-porched inn built in 1794, with a third-floor ballroom added in 1837, this was one of the first sites in Berkshire County to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A stagecoach stop for much of the 19th century, it stood vacant for many years before previous owners restored and furnished it appropriately.
Current owners George and Joanne Crockett appreciate what they have and maintain the place lovingly. All guestrooms features private baths and TVs and have been carefully decorated with an eye to comfort as well as style. The Riverview Suite, in a separate wing at the back, offers a king-size bed, a wood-burning fireplace, and a private balcony overlooking the grounds and the Housatonic River. Wood fires glow in the old keeping room, where guests breakfast each morning (choosing from a full menu), and in the tavern room, with its original birdcage bar in the corner, now a cozy sitting room.
1565 Pleasant St.; South Lee, Massachusetts; 413-243-1794; merrell-inn.com
$100-$215, including full breakfast
River Bend Farm
There’s authentic, and then there’s museum-quality authentic. At River Bend Farm, a fire frequently glows in the parlor — the original taproom of this former 1770 tavern, where, hosts David and Judy Loomis will tell you, town founders planned the Battle of Bennington. A musket hangs above the hearth, and furnishings are so true to period that you expect a thirsty colonist to arrive any minute.
Dedicated, scholarly restorers, David and Judy recognized the significance of this house built by Benjamin Simonds on Simonds Road, now Route 7. When they arrived back in 1977, the house, David notes, “was pretty well used.” The couple uncovered the original paneling, wide floorboards, and massive central chimney, serving five working fireplaces. The restoration took 15 years. River Bend Farm is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Period lighting fixtures, latch doors, and appropriate furnishings heighten a sense of the colonial era, but the house is as comfortable as it is historic. The four guestrooms share two baths, but, judging from the raves on Trip Advisor, guests don’t mind. David and Judy are warm hosts who serve “a healthy, homemade breakfast” and delight in sharing their knowledge of this richly rewarding town, home to two outstanding art museums, a summer theater, and a wealth of hiking, as well as Williams College. River Bend Farm is open April through October.
643 Simonds Road (U.S. Route 7), Williamstown, Massachusetts; 413-458-3121; riverbendfarmbb.com
$120, including continental breakfast
Old Tavern Farm
This rambling white house stands at a bend in a byway so quiet that it’s difficult to believe it could ever have been a main route northwest (and later, part of the post road to Bennington, Vermont) in Colonial days, yet historical accounts assure us that such was the case when the core building here was licensed as a tavern in 1748.
Gary and Joanne Sanderson are devoted to preserving the feel of this old hostelry, which expanded steadily in the 1800s to include a spring-floored ballroom. The former “ladies’ parlor” and taproom with working Rumford fireplaces and authentic 18th- and early-19th-century antiques, some quite valuable, have also been preserved. There are three rooms with private baths, but more guestrooms are available if you rent the whole place. Special occasions may feature music and dancing in the ballroom, whose vaulted ceiling is graced by a French chandelier.
Gary is a local sports columnist and licensed fishing and hunting guide. Guests may include Deerfield Academy parents as well as bird hunters and history buffs. A full breakfast is served.