TEXT BY MICHAELA CAVALLARO
Seventeen years ago, Rob Blood bought his first hospitality property, a nine-room 1813 Federal in a leafy neighborhood near Kennebunkport’s bustling Dock Square. As he flipped pancakes at the Captain Fairfield Inn, he daydreamed about acquiring several neighboring homes-turned-inns, all of which once belonged to the descendants of early settler Captain Daniel Walker. Fast forward to May 2021 and he’s done it, creating the Kennebunkport Captains Collection out of what’s now known as the James Fairfield House and three nearby inns.
In designing the inns as a collection, Blood, who owns Massachusetts-based Lark Hotels, aimed to honor their legacies and add the contemporary touches he and Megan Kennedy, his co-founder at the Massachusetts design firm Elder & Ash, are known for. At the 1814 Captain Lord Mansion, the grande dame of Kennebunkport lodgings, now known as the Nathaniel Lord Mansion, the duo kept the mahogany four-poster beds and other antiques, while stripping back carpeting to reveal wide-pine floors, adding opulent velvet drapes, updating baths, and building out the existing crown moldings.
Across the street, the 1807 Acton Patterson House is designed with the “gentleman rusticator” in mind — think distressed-leather headboards, brown herringbone wallpaper, and plenty of plaid. (It’s where Blood would stay if he had to choose.) Meanwhile, the 1804 William Jefferds House features a crisp white-on-white palette, the better to show off chartreuse velvet beds, modern four-posters in matte black, and oversized brass chandeliers. Where the entry would historically have had a mural of the town harbor, Blood and Kennedy commissioned Boston’s Patina Designs to paint an abstract motif in golds and silvers pulled from the carpet and light fixtures.
Back at the James Fairfield House, rich reds, slate blues, and eggplants are a legacy of Blood’s history at the property, where he moved away from toiles and canopy beds in favor of a bolder, funkier look. Vibrant abstract paintings by Falmouth’s Rebecca Thompson now hang in every guest room, and the living room has an Oriental rug handed down through Blood’s family. It’s a fitting touch for this most personal of projects. “Of all of the things I’ve done in my career,” Blood says, “this one is the most meaningful to me.”