TEXT BY SARA ANNE DONNELLY
“I’ve loved old things for as long as I can recall,” says Kember Vanderblue, the new innkeeper of the 1825 Waterford Inne. Situated on 17 acres of farmland that, in its heyday, fed up to three resident generations of the Chadbourne family, “it’s a creepy old farmhouse and I don’t want to cover that up,” Vanderblue says. “I want to strip back the layers of time and get it back to what was there previously.”
An organic farmer from Connecticut, Vanderblue stumbled across a listing for the inn during a trip to Sunday River with her family last year. Her parents bought it, with the idea that Vanderblue would run it and create a homestead experience for guests and patrons of a farm-to-table restaurant she intends to launch this spring. Last summer, Vanderblue spent six weeks sleeping in a makeshift guest room in the barn while shadowing the previous owners. Since then, she’s focused on continuing their 43-year legacy — keeping, for example, the Old English spelling of “inn” — while stripping away jarring reminders of modern life. Carpet has come up, exposing tawny maple and pine flooring. The lone TV, formerly in a common room, has disappeared. And disparately themed guest rooms have been renamed for old-school creative vocations.
ABOVE Eclectic thrifted finds and heirlooms fill the common and guest rooms at the 1825 Waterford Inne, recently reimagined by innkeeper Kember Vanderblue, who also plans to open a farm-to-table restaurant incorporating ingredients grown on the 17-acre property. Fireplace photo by Hannah Hoggatt.
In The Poet, nightstands made from vintage library card catalogs and an Early American cherry bureau topped with a vintage typewriter are juxtaposed with gilded damask wallpaper. Next door in The Botanist, Vanderblue tempered busy shamrock-green wallpaper in what had been The Irish Room with the dark woods of her great-grandmother’s antique twin beds and an Art Deco nightstand. On the walls, vintage botanical prints drive home the theme.
Downstairs in the wood-paneled great room, mismatched furniture in faded pastels are arranged in communion with a cast-iron woodstove set into the original fireplace. Willowy candles in antique chambersticks add to the pre-Industrial backstory. So far, Vanderblue says the room has sparked the kind of old-fashioned coming together she and her family were seeking. “There will be groups of people who don’t know each other and they get to chatting here and realize they have things in common,” she says. “And by breakfast they’re friends.”