Best 18th-Century Inns: 7 Runners-Up
Late in the 18th century, Ignatius Haskell sailed to Deer Isle from Newburyport to take advantage of the island’s ready supply of lumber; there he built a sawmill and a gristmill. According to innkeeper Tina Oddleifson, by 1793 he was wealthy enough to build this expansive home to house his wife and nine children. In 1889, another Haskell (“Lizzie”) turned the house into an inn named “The Ark.” It accommodated summer guests who had begun arriving by steamer from Boston, Portland, and Rockland.
Pilgrim’s Inn has been lucky in its subsequent owners. Its wide pumpkin-pine floorboards and eight-foot-wide original fireplaces in the common and tap rooms survive, along with original hardware in most guestrooms and working hearths and paneling in the game room and library. In our room (#4), tasteful but unfussy furnishings, and a view of the millpond, underscored the 18th-century feel of the space. On the other hand, after a long day’s drive, the 21st-century jetted tub was terrific — likewise the bracing shower next morning.
Co-owner Tony Lawless, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, maintains a reliable quality of dining at the Whale’s Rib Tavern, the inn’s restaurant. Guests must reserve in advance for dinner, given its popularity among local residents. We feasted with friends on Deer Isle clams steamed in beer and on locally raised mussels in a butter-and-cream sauce with roasted garlic and fried leeks, mopped up with freshly baked breads; a seafood stew of mahogany clams and calamari, plus a half lobster, followed. The restaurant, also the scene of made-to-order breakfast, is housed in a many-windowed old barn with nicely spaced white-clothed tables. Along with a small bar and the original kitchen — now an inviting common room — the restaurant is on the garden level, below the inn proper.
20 Main St., Deer Isle, ME; 888-778-7505, 207-348-6615; pilgrimsinn.com
$109-$259, including full breakfast
The Englishman’s Bed & Breakfast
Cherryfield is way Down East, an hour’s drive beyond the Route 1 turn-off for Bar Harbor, best known for wild blueberries. It’s not a place you’d expect to find either an Englishman or a four-square, cream-colored, olive-trimmed mansion built in 1793. Happily, however, Peter and Kathy Winham welcome guests year-round to their handsome home by the Narraguagus River. The hearths are no longer used, but Peter assures us that “fake flames keep the guestrooms cozy.” No ghosts here, but you’ll find plenty of books and DVDs.
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