If the walls could talk, you'd be surprised hear the storied pasts of the guests and innkeepers at Select Registry's portfolio of historic and antique accommodations. Whether you prefer independent hotels with authentic tales behind their names or famed buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, these historic craft lodging properties are just waiting to be rediscovered.
Charleston, South Carolina
While many inns have hosted notable historical figures, only one can claim that parts of The U.S. Constitution were drafted within its walls. At the John Rutledge House Inn, John Rutledge, head of The Constitution drafting committee, crafted early versions of our nation’s founding documents. The fingerprints of Founding Fathers don’t stop there–George Washington himself was among the esteemed house’s dinner guests. And if that wasn’t enough notable history, legend has it She-Crab Soup, an iconic Charleston dish, was created at the Rutledge House to impress President William Taft. The soup uses crab roe for added flavor and its distinct orange color.
Like most buildings over 400 years old, Hickory Bridge has lived many lives. From a working farm to distillery, smithy to restaurant, this Orrtanna bed and breakfast embodies good bones. Lest the building gets all the credit, owner Mary Lynn Martin comes from an equally impressive hospitality background. Her family’s first property, The Fairfield Inn, was recognized in the 1975 edition of Select Registry’s guidebook, Country Inns and Back Roads. Hickory Bridge is particularly known for its family-style meals, bringing friends together at the on-site restaurant. “It is a special place to step back in time, to embrace what is important, and to break bread with those we cherish,” says Martin.
This sprawling two-story Victorian Classic estate has been a piece of Kentucky history since the 1830s. Founded by the notable Amsden family, the estate remained in their hands for over a century. Historically known as Sunny Hollow, the inn has always felt like a fairytale, complete with a darling playhouse, stone pond, English-style courtyard and soaring turret. The Storybook’s latest chapter focuses on restoration. Owner C. Elise Buckley oversaw two massive renovation projects to maintain the property’s historic integrity while transforming it into a world-class bed and breakfast.
Cape May, New Jersey
Three 1800s-era historic buildings make up the Queen Victoria Bed & Breakfast. “Each building has its own charm,” says general manager Jamie Harvey, noting the wraparound porch at the Prince Albert building, the House of Royals’ building ocean-view balconies, and the Queen Victoria building’s French-inspired mansard roof. These historic flourishes fit flawlessly in Cape May, a seaside city with the largest collection of Victorian-era homes outside of San Francisco. At the Queen Victoria, you can stay in the heart of the historic district and just one block from the beach for the ultimate royal treatment.
Behind its peach-and-cream exterior, The Gingerbread Mansion Inn has long offered sanctuary to those who visit. Built in 1895 by Dr. Hogan J. Ring, the distinct Eastlake and Queen Anne Victorian-style home was later expanded and converted into the Ferndale General Hospital. “For many guests, the most meaningful part of their visit is getting to see their family members’ birthplace,” says owner Seta Mesrobian. “A significant number of babies were born in the mansion.” The architectural preservation, authentic feel and (guest favorite) English Garden all make the Gingerbread Mansion Inn a must-visit.
Every night on the 700 block of Natchez, Mississippi, three historic homes light window candles, signaling a warm welcome to travelers. This is just one tradition at the Devereaux Shields House that guests love about the 10-room, boutique bed and breakfast. The inn’s three homes are all on the same block and “we are just a few small-town blocks from the heart of downtown and breathtaking views of the mighty Mississippi River,” adds owner Ron Fry. Stay in your pick of the restored Victorians: the Main House–with luxurious two-room king suites, Aunt Clara’s Cottage, or the Bost House–which garnered the owners a Natchez Historic Foundation award for restoration efforts in 2021.
For over 200 years The Grafton Inn has welcomed travelers, making it one of the longest-operating inns in the country—and its stories read like a United States history textbook. Money earned in the California Gold Rush funded its restoration; the Great Depression nearly ended the business; and figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rudyard Kipling, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson have all been guests. Just as it did back in 1801, the inn “remains the anchor for the town today,” says innkeeper Angela Comstock. Experience the inn’s 42 guest rooms, two on-site restaurants, and the same hospitality that’s kept the lights on for two centuries.
During the 1960s, Gainesville, Florida was known as the Berkeley of the Southeast, and right in the middle of its Hippie Hill neighborhood stood Laurel Oak Inn, formerly known as the Lassiter House. This 1885-era home was built by Wilburn Lassiter and his second wife, Fanny, but by the ‘60s, the mansion had been turned into apartments more suitable for starving artists like a young Tom Petty, who reportedly lived there in 1969. Since undergoing significant restoration throughout the 1990s, Laurel Oak Inn has, and continues to, welcome music buffs, history fans, and Sunshine State visitors to experience its luxurious and storied past.
Sit long enough on the front porch of The Inn & Spa at Intercourse Village and you might be confused about what century you’re in as horses and buggies roll down Main Street. Welcome to Intercourse Village, the heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutch and Amish country, where modernity meets tradition. As you walk inside the 1909-era home, history follows. The inn’s original chestnut woodwork, found in its windowsills and moldings, is a rare feature due to a blight that destroyed many of the local chestnut trees. Guests also love the pocket doors, working push-button light switches, and early 20th-century decor. “Our memorable part of the world will enchant you with its quaint shops, beautiful scenery, and rich history,” promises owner Carl Kosko.
Bar Harbor, Maine
The tranquil harbor and stunning natural landscapes of Bar Harbor, Maine are the only clues to exactly what was going through Alpheus Hardy’s head in 1885 when he named Ullikana Cottage on the Harbor. Hardy, a china trader from Boston, never told anyone who—or what—Ullikana was, and the mystery remains to this day. Over the years, guests have come to create their own unique versions of what the name means to them. The original cottage has lovingly restored rooms, each with its own distinctive character—it feels like a modern retreat. In the decades since its naming, Ullikana has become synonymous with seclusion and luxury. Today, it is a tasteful basecamp to explore Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor.
Shining in a neighborhood full of historic homes, this Second Empire-style mansion is a steadfast fixture of the Wethersfield Historic District. Intricate cast-iron patterns, a mansard roof, beckoning balustrades, and an impressive three-tier entry are all original details built by Silas W. Robbins, a successful politician and businessman. However, in 1996, a devastating fire destroyed the inn’s interior. Only after a painstaking restoration, the opulent Silas W Robbins House returned to its original grandeur, complete with intricate woodwork, marble fireplaces, and elegant furnishings—and made its debut in the 2018 Hallmark film, “Honeysuckle Lane.” For guests today, luxurious accommodations and a glimpse into the past await.
If the walls at The Hotel Saugatuck could talk, they would sound like a gangster film. When the 19th-century building reopened as a hotel in 1922, owner—and vaudeville banjo player–Tom Carey invited his fellow Chicago musicians to play, dance, and wait out prohibition. Gangsters from Al Capone’s crew often frequented the hotel, and local legend says shots were fired in honor of one gangster’s sweetheart. If the drama doesn’t impress you, the fine finishings of this historic building surely will, including supple wood floors dating back to the 1920s and original windowed vestibules that are “the perfect place to sit and take in the views of the gardens and Lake Kalamazoo,” says general manager Brittany Hollingshead.
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