One of the oldest continually operating inns in America, the Dorset Inn remains a visual and historical anchor to the charming little village of Dorset, Vermont. The Federal period building was historically known as the Hodges Hotel before becoming The Washington Hotel in about 1858 (the porch was added at that time to make it resemble George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home). The name became the Dorset Inn in 1904. As constructed in 1796, the main block possessed a five-bay facade arranged symmetrically around a central entrance; an 1858 extension added two bays on the west, when it was modernized. Though the inn has seen changes and modernizations over time, the building has such a historic character that brings in people from all over the country to experience the best of Dorset every year.
This past weekend, I took a little “stay-cation” in Cambridge, and I am so glad I did! I stayed at the Prentiss House, a highly significant Greek Revival house near Porter Square. The Inn is operated by Thatch, a company that offers short-term hotel stays, long-term apartments, and co-living arrangements in the Boston area. They recently acquired and renovated this amazing old house and its a great place to stay!
The home was built in 1843 by William Saunders a well-known housewright for his son, William Augustus Saunders about the same time as his first child, Mary was born. Sadly, Mary died at just six years old and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery with her grave guarded by a tiny stone dog. The Saunders Family resided at the home for over 50 years until William and his wife’s death at the end of the 19th century. The original location of the mansion on Massachusetts Avenue necessitated its move to the newly laid out Prentiss Street to save it from commercial development pressure and the wrecking ball. The home was moved to its present site in 1925 for the erection of a one-story block of stores on Mass. Ave. In 1992, the home was purchased by local artist, Charlotte Forsythe and she began the journey of transforming the home into the Mary Prentiss Inn. An addition by Bell/Fandetti added rooms and subterranean parking to the building at that time. The Inn was purchased by Thatch in 2021, who modernized the rooms.
The house reads like a Greek Temple, not with a full portico, but by using colossal applied pilasters and an entablature carried across the gable, suggesting a classical pediment. Ornamental wreaths adorn the full-length porch and interior mouldings.
What a treat it was to stumble upon one of the most beautiful homes in Vermont, and all the best houses have names! Glimmerstone is located in the small town of Cavendish, and is possibly the finest Snecked Ashlar constructed home in the state. The house was built in 1845 for Henry Fullerton, manager of the Black River Manufacturing and Canal Company mill in Cavendish. The stone used to build the house was quarried less than a mile away, and hauled to the site. The construction style consists of stone facing on either side of rubble fill, with slabs and snecks sometimes laid across the fill to provide strength, a method brought to the region by Scottish immigrant masons. The house’s design is by a local carpenter, Lucius Paige, and is based on designs published by Andrew Jackson Downing, who depicted many Gothic style designs in pattern books which were built all over the country. The house has had a number of owners after Mr. Fullerton died. During the prohibition era, Art Hadley, who would later become extremely wealthy as the inventor of the expansion bracelet, used the home as part of a rum running operation. Glimmerstone was purchased in 2010 by the current owners, who underwent a massive restoration of the home, converting it into a bed and breakfast, allowing the public to experience the property as well.
One of the best examples of a temple-front Greek Revival house in the state of Vermont is this stunner, found in Newfane Village. The house was constructed in 1832 for General Pardon T. Kimball (1797-1873), a cattle-broker, general of the state militia and later, a state senator. Kimball made a name for himself locally as he donated much of his money to social causes, from a local almshouse to other charitable organizations. Kimball died in 1873 after falling from his carriage. The house was converted to an inn in 1965-6 and has since been known as the Four Columns Inn, so-named after the four monumental Ionic columns that dominate the house’s facade.
Originally constructed in 1787 on Newfane Hill, the main block of this historic inn was moved in 1825 for owner Anthony Jones, to its present site overlooking the Common in Newfane, Vermont. The Federal style building was oriented towards the main street, with its length extending along the town common. The inn was a busy stop for lawyers and judges who worked at the courthouse across the street. Porches were added likely in the early 20th century. After a period of neglect, the inn was restored by decorator Christoph Stumpe Castou, and later sold. The inn was run for 42 years in the second half of the 20th century by Eric and Gundela Weindl, a couple who were both from Germany, yet met at Stratton Mountain in Vermont in 1963, marrying in 1968. They operated the inn until 2011.
Located on a hillside in rural Dummerston, Vermont, you will find Naulakha, one of the most significant properties in the region. Naulakha (pronounced now-LAH-kuh) was built in 1893 for Rudyard Kipling an english journalist and author born in British India, an upbringing which inspired much of his professional work. In 1892, Kipling married Caroline Balestier, who was born into a prominent New England family. The couple honeymooned in Vermont near Carrie’s family home. The couple would settle in Vermont in a cottage which was soon outgrown, leading the couple to buy 10 acres of land from Carrie’s brother Beatty Balestier and built their own house. The new Shingle-style home they had built was named Naulakha after a book written by Rudyard and Caroline’s late-brother Wolcott. Kipling wanted a home that merged the distinctive qualities of the Indian bungalow with those of the American Shingle Style and he worked closely with his architect, Henry Rutgers Marshall of New York City, a Balestier family friend to achieve this.
The rectangular mass of the home parallels the contours the hill upon which its sited, and sits atop a raised fieldstone basement salvaged from stone walls on the property. From the home, Kipling wrote some of his most influential work, including the Jungle Books (1894, 1895), Captains Courageous (1896, The Seven Seas (1896), and The Day’s Work (1898). Sadly, the Kipling’s moved out of Naulakha after just a few years, largely from familial disputes with Caroline’s brother, Beatty. The family removed to England where they settled, though Rudyard always mentioned how much he missed his secluded life in Vermont. The property was then purchased by the Holbrook family, who made slight modifications to the property, but all maintaining the original design and feeling. In 1992, the British-based Landmark Trust acquired Naulakha as its first American building, later creating the Landmark Trust USA to maintain the property and more. The Landmark Trust USA rents out Naulakha and the adjacent carriage house for short-term rentals to provide revenue for maintaining these properties.
Located on Main Street in idyllic Ridgefield, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, The Fountain Inn provides one of the most welcoming and historical bed and breakfast experiences in New England! The Fountain Inn was built in 1740 as a “city home in the country” for David Hoyt, who showed off his wealth and stature in the young town by having such a high-style home built at the time. Decades later during the Revolutionary War, David Hoyt’s house became a part of the Battle of Ridgefield. After defeating the Colonial militia elsewhere on Main Street, British Gen. William Tryon‘s troops turned their attention to nearby Keeler Tavern, the local militia’s headquarters, which just happened to be neighbors with the mansion owned by David Hoyt, a known Loyalist. General Tryon’s troops practiced their artillery-firing skills on the building pummeling it with cannonballs, sending a message to the head of the local militia. David Hoyt formally demanded a cease-fire, as he was concerned about wayward cannonballs damaging his home. By 1790, with Ridgefield’s British influence diminishing by the day, David Hoyt finally left his Connecticut home and sailed back to England. The home was expanded and modernized over the next two hundred years until the present owners purchased the property and underwent a massive restoration of the Colonial house inside and out as their family residence. In the past year, the inn opened as the Fountain Inn so-named after a Cass Gilbert-designed fountain across the street.
Eli Longley (1762-1839) came to Waterford, Maine by way of Bolton, Mass., in 1789 and erected a log cabin in town. As the first settler to build in this part of town, he owned a substantial piece of property, which was frequently travelled through as the area was being developed. Seeing a need for lodging, he built a one-story tavern in the location of this building, which was added onto and modified as demand and the area’s population grew. Longley would also subdivide some of his land for house lots along the new town common, selling to new settlers as they arrived. Longley sold the tavern in 1817, which was acquired later in 1847 by Dr. Calvin Farrar. Taking advantage of a nearby mineral spring, Dr. Farrar opened a successful hydropathic spa, which used natural waters to cure patients of their ailments. The spa was taken over by Dr. William P. Shattuck, who expanded the site as the “Maine Hygienic Institute”, a hospital exclusively for lady patients employing eclectic treatment. This business and the tourism it generated helped shift the town from a sleepy village to a tourist destination by the late 19th century, where city-dwellers would flock to view the natural scenery and breathe in the clean air. In the 1860s-70s, Shattuck “modernized” the Lake House Hotel with the two-story Victorian-era porch and sawn decorative trim.
Located next door to “The Poplars” (last post), another summer cottage Thornhedge, stands out for its architectural splendor and great state of preservation. Similar to “The Poplars”, the home was built in 1900 for Lewis A. Roberts, a retired book publisher from Boston. Roberts ran the publishing house with his brothers, and they published work by authors including Emily Dickinson, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and George Sand, the first American edition of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and had their greatest commercial success with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The business was purchased by Little and Brown Publishing in 1898. Lewis Roberts died in 1901, only a year after completing Thornhedge, and the house came under the care of his son, Lewis Niles Roberts. Mr. Roberts kept the house as a summer residence until 1920, then sold it to the family of William F. Frick, a prominent judge from Baltimore. The home became an inn by the 1970s. Thornhedge is a Queen Anne style cottage which was originally organized with the first and second floor serving as the living quarters and the top and bottom floors for the servants. The laundry, servants dining hall, and kitchen were out of sight in the finished basement, with a dumb-waiter to bring hot food to the butler’s pantry. The third floor was the servants’ living quarters.
One of the earlier summer cottages in Bar Harbor is Ullikana, a Queen Anne style cottage, verging on Tudor Revival style. The cottage was built in 1885 for Alpheus Hardy (1815-1887) a trader in Boston. Hardy gained his wealth in shipping. He got his start by buying a small and fast ship that could make the voyage to the Mediterranean and back so quickly that he and his other investors captured much of the fruit importing business. His company would grow to have over 15 ships going as far as China. Hardy hired the Boston architectural firm of Cummings & Sears to design a new summer cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine, an ever-growing rival to Newport. He could only enjoy the cottage for two years, when in 1887, while cutting coupons, he dropped the scissors, the sharp points piercing his leg. Blood poisoning followed and death resulted. The summer cottage was owned by his family as a rental cottage for a number of years until it was purchased by the Maine Central Railroad, and rented to the recently widowed Princess Miguel de Bragança of Portugal, the former Anita Rhinelander Stewart. The cottage is now an inn.