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After a sweltering summer, the rocky coastline of Maine, with its ocean vistas, iconic lighthouses and lobster shacks, beckoned to us last fall. The state’s brisk, fresh air seemed to offer a promise of renewal. Apparently, we were not the only ones to hear the call. In mid-October, the tourist season was still in high gear, so reservations were tough to secure. But with help from our Travel Office, we patched together an itinerary that would include two historic inns — one on Moosehead Lake and the other on the coast in Camden — a seaside hotel on Cape Elizabeth and a woodsy resort near Kennebunkport.
Moosehead Lake, Maine’s largest glacial lake, is a four-hour drive from Portland. It became a tourist destination in the late 1800s, when Victorian “Rusticators,” as they were known, arrived from crowded cities to experience the natural splendor of the Pine Tree State. It was during this period that Lyman Blair was drawn to the area. He purchased 2,000 hillside acres and created a working farm. The home he built for his wife, Cornelia, was finished in 1891. Roughly 100 years later, it came to be owned by Dan and Ruth McLaughlin. Now called Blair Hill Inn, this 10-room country house hotel was our first stop.
Even before arriving, I experienced the warm hospitality that would be the hallmark of our stay. Ruth was always on hand to answer the phone and act as our eager-to-please concierge. She even called me, unprompted, to offer a last-minute room change that would make for a more comfortable visit.
Blair Hill Inn, set on 15 acres near Greenville, rests on a hilltop with commanding views of the lake. On the night we arrived, it was aglow from within, and the light of a full moon illuminated the house’s exterior.
Our suite, Guest Room 8, was on the third floor. The door opened onto a short hallway and dressing area that led to our two bedrooms: one fitted with two twin beds, perfect for children, and the other with a queen-size bed, vaulted ceilings and a cushioned window seat. Off the hallway, the bath blended old-fashioned features, like the black-and-white penny tiles, white subway wall tiles and arched shower entrance, with the square lines of a modern bath and black-and-white toile curtains. Double vanity sinks were outside the bath — convenient in some ways, but less so in others.