SUDBURY - Sudbury is one of the oldest towns in New England and Longfellow's Wayside Inn is the oldest operating inn in the nation.
Travelers have been visiting this colonial property just off Route 20 for more than 300 years.
Pieces of American history can be found throughout the 100-plus acre property, even on the sign out front. That's where you'll see the initials of the original Howe family innkeepers along with some dates.
"And the dates are affiliated with the years that they became innkeepers. So, the first one is David Howe," Katina Fontes, the Inn's Education Coordinator, told WBZ-TV.
Hosting guests since 1716, it's safe to say this establishment may be the first in the country in the hospitality business.
"It's a lot of fun, especially being the eleventh innkeeper in 300 years," current innkeeper Steve Pickford told WBZ.
Pickford and his staff share many interesting facts about the property. For instance, in their old tavern I learned why we call some watering holes "bars."
"Right behind you, that's actual bars that closed the bar and I'm told that originally that's where the term 'bar' came from. The bar is closed, the bar went down, the bar was open," Pickford said.
There are also many legendary tales.
"Our own Lyman Howe, he was the last Howe innkeeper here at the inn and he tended to be a storyteller. He tells a story about his grandfather, but he also tells a story which most of us know as Paul Revere's ride," Fontes said.
Longfellow's Wayside Inn is also fully functional. The grist mill is one of the highlights on the grounds.
"So, Henry Ford owned this property beginning in 1923. He built the grist mill because he wanted to have an operating grist mill," Fontes said.
"Not only do we run a full bakery, but we grind our own grains to use in that bakery. So, we grind our own wheat flour and our own cornmeal and it's so impressive to me to be able to say that," Pickford said.
The Martha-Mary Chapel has more than 100 weddings a year and the staff that work here make sure that if you're staying at the Wayside, you are placed back in time.
"The property and its buildings are so historic, so that helps to start with, but we also have a lot of volunteer re-enactors that call this home base. They show up here a lot and that helps to give that colonial feel," Pickford said.
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