New England's Best Historic Inns
A decade ago this was known as “Falling-Down Farm,” and it lacked electricity, but Mary and Jon Wilska bought it the day they saw it. Their restoration included adding five baths and reverently restoring paneling, wide-planked flooring, and variously shaped posts and beams. To the three original guestrooms, they added a fourth (with jetted tub) and also created private quarters for themselves. For guests, they reserved the comfortable front parlor with its working hearth, now fitted with wing chairs and a wall of books. Guests awaken to a candlelight breakfast served in the keeping room.
Though there’s the lure of nearby casinos or Mystic Seaport, many guests stray only as far as the neighboring conservation land. “What they want is to get away from busyness,” Mary says. “They like the quietness here.”
THE CANDLEBERRY INN ON CAPE COD
Step into the dining room at The Candleberry Inn in Brewster, Massachusetts, and you’re in a 1790s two-story “sea farm” with wide-board pine floors and “bubble and wave” glass windows. Early in the 19th century, front rooms and a “square-rigger” facade were added.
B&B host Charlotte Fyfe is a fifth-generation Cape Codder and a locally acclaimed baker, whose skills are displayed in the shortbreads and scones set out for afternoon tea. A quarterboard from her great-great-grandfather’s schooner, the Jessie Matheson, hangs in the living room above the glowing woodstove; the captain’s sextant is here, too, along with photos of his Provincetown-based fleet.
Charlotte’s husband, Stuart Fyfe, a retired high-school teacher and coach, is an avid carpenter with a lot of respect for the original woodwork throughout the house. Five of the inn’s eight inviting guestrooms are open in winter, four with fireplaces. Like most old Brewster homes, it’s had its share of paying guests. Author Horatio Alger came in 1864 and stayed for two years. A centerpiece of the village, the Candleberry is a favorite stop for visitors during Brewster’s holiday celebration (December 2-4 this year; brewsterfortheholidays.org). For many guests, the off-season appeal here is walking the vast sand flats that appear with every low tide.
THE INN AT VALLEY FARMS
Walpole, New Hampshire
Little is known about the early history of The Inn at Valley Farms in Walpole, New Hampshire. What counts is the way this 1774 dual-chimney Colonial looks, inside and out. Jacqueline Caserta grew up down the road and bought the 105-acre property when it was threatened by development. She’s furnished its handsome formal parlor, library, and dining rooms with appropriate antiques and created three comfortable upstairs guestrooms, including a two-bedroom suite. Families may also choose between two neighboring cottages, each with three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room.
Guests are invited to walk or snowshoe up the hill behind the inn–past the cows, cashmere goats, pigs, and four-story red barn–up to the hilltop meadow, with its view down the valley. Breakfast features eggs from the farm’s chickens.
Thanksgiving weekend is a big event here, with open studios on both sides of the Connecticut River, sponsored by the Walpole Artisans Cooperative (details at walpoleartisans.org/tour.html). The village also offers destination dining at L. A. Burdick’s bistro and chocolate shop.
THREE MOUNTAIN INN
Standing as it does on Route 30 in the middle of Jamaica, Vermont, it’s likely that the Three Mountain Inn has taken in travelers since the 1790s. Certainly the inn’s Old Keeping Room looks the part. There’s a large continuously lit hearth, deeply hued 22-inch wide-pine paneling, and a cozy corner bar. There’s also pottery, multicolored glass, and rustic furniture, all made by craftspeople working within steps of the inn. Many of the striking paintings throughout the common rooms are from the Elaine Beckwith Gallery on the northern edge of the village.
Two small, elegant dining rooms with working fireplaces are the setting for innkeeper Ed Dorta-Duque’s four-course prix-fixe dinners and sumptuous breakfasts. Guestrooms, many with gas fireplaces, are divided between the original inn and neighboring Robinson House. In the garden there’s also luxurious Sage Cottage.
From the highway, Jamaica flies by in an instant–yet it lingers as you browse its shops or follow the road from the back door down across the West River to the hiking and cross-country ski trails in Jamaica State Park. On Thanksgiving weekend, nearby Putney hosts one of New England’s standout open-studio tours (details at putneycrafts.com), and in December ski trails open up on Stratton Mountain, just 10 miles distant.
HENRY FARM INN