While we renovated the inn this winter, we did not renovate our website, SO for the time being, this post will serve as an introduction to the look, feel, vibe of the “New Rooms” at the Woods Hole Inn.
Some general comments: these rooms are all on the second floor of the inn. They all have vintage restored wood floors, the same wood floors that were always here just polished up. All have rain showers and bath tubs. All have views either of the village of Woods Hole, or over the harbor of Woods Hole. All have king beds, luxury linens, ipod docking stations, cable TV with DVD players. air conditioning AND free wireless internet access. Two have private water view decks, and all share a large deck with a great view of the Martha’s Vineyard ferry coming and going.
We continued with numbers on some, and others received names, like the birthing of infants which is not unlike how making them felt at certain moments. So without further ado…here they are:
ROOM 10: private entryway, private bath, king room with peekaboo view of the Eel Pond
ROOM 11: private entryway, private bath, king corner room with views out over the village green
Nobska Room: Delux private bath with vintage bathtub and glass rain shower, king room with killer views of the harbor and Martha’s Vineyard ferries
Penzance Room: Private water view deck, large private bath with twin pedestal sinks, vintage bath and glass rain shower in a large king room with water views
Nonamessett Room: Private water view deck, large private bath with distinctive wall mount sink, vintage bath and glass rain shower in a large king room with water views
So there you have it, pictures and information about the five new rooms! Please use our secure online booking agent at www.woodsholeinn.com OR call 508-495-0248 to book these rooms. We look forward to welcoming you to Woods Hole.
The winds blew so hard on Friday that I had to lean into the railing of the Woods Hole drawbridge as I took this photograph looking out towards Martha’s Vineyard. By the weekend, the bitter Canadian winter had settled over our little village and I worried about pipes freezing on the construction site, not to mention my cheeks as I took my afternoon walks.
But that did not slow the pace of renovations at the Woods Hole Inn. Oh no, we have our eye on the proverbial prize as reservations are rolling in for summer and beyond (book now if you want to be sure and get in summer 2012) .
The place is swarming on the inside with people. One of the things you learn quickly as you renovate an old property is that the stuff required to make it “new” again is pretty high tech, read expensive. I walk around the site and I see dollar signs: ruby-red foam insulation, diamond-encrusted lighting and platinum sprinkler pipes. Even the pipe fittings glitter in the sun like precious jewels.
One notable change is that in past winters when the wind howled (over 50 MPH this weekend I heard), the old Woods Hole Inn groaned and creaked, shuddering with the big blasts and swaying like a salsa dancer in the smaller gusts.
But up on the top floor on Friday, I was struck by the stillness of new windows, and the hush of firm framing. All those new connections — the spider web of wood and joinery which will be hidden by plaster — makes the building sturdier. As sad as I was to see the old lathe walls in dumpsters, this new development reminds me that a renovation of this magnitude will help the building survive another 130 years, well beyond my lifetime.
Ruby red insulation…
low-voltage, recessed lighting …
sprinkler pipe coated with platinum ….
and all the trimmings for sprinkler installation…
The parts that people can actually see look good too, all closed up from the winter winds with nothing needed but a coat of paint:
Which leaves me with this parting thought: You get what you pay for.
This week, construction began on the new rooms at the Woods Hole Inn. With a crew of five demolition experts, the walls came down on the top floor revealing the majesty of a high-ceilinged space with amazing light and great views…when you can see through the construction dust that is.
Franko and the boys arrived Tuesday with crowbars and mallets to pound it out. Electricians stripped back the wires and a plumber came in to unhook the old claw foot tub. We pulled as much moulding as we could so we can re-use it as we put the place back together again.
I snuck in the day before they arrived and took some “before” photos. Inn guests happily ensconced in the lap of luxury two stories below would be shocked by the state of affairs up here. The windows were blown out and boarded up after various storms years ago. There was a rabbit warren of tiny rooms, accessed by a barn-like stairway. One bath for maybe 10 cubby-sized spaces, some only big enough for a bed roll.
I have met a few people who lived up here summers in the 70s and earlier, but I don’t think it has been habitable for maybe thirty years now. One former waitress at the Landfall told me she paid $25 per week. Another former resident bragged that a lot of pot was smoked up here, back in the sixties when Woods Hole was a real hippie hang out.
The Woods Hole Inn was more flophouse than eco-destination at that point. Summer college kids slummed it with the former chauffeurs of Penzance Point estates and other retired alcoholics. One man told me his mother advised he run past the building, as there were often “unsavory characters” on the front stoop.
Here are a few photos of what it looked like just before the demo crew showed up:
It’s was really hard to photograph because the rooms were small and dark. We had already done some minor demo three years ago while renovating other parts of the building. On top of that, it appears that the piles of old air conditioners were mating with the dusty artificial Christmas trees, or something like that. That the debris was replicating in the dark is the only explanation I can come up for why the junk seemed to grow larger each time I ventured up.
But after three days with a sledgehammer, you could see the old lathe and look through walls to the windows beyond, Cape light streaming in and promising a better future. Franko told me they had found some really old work boots (see above) and other debris — fell down from the ceilings he said. A couple of really vintage brandy bottles, a pair of cotton spats with little hooks for covering the calves when riding (?), a tiny wooden sailboat-toy painted a matte blue, a dusty old stuffed kitty long forgotten by it’s childish master.
I am working on an exhibit of artifacts to trace the history of the inn. Any input from people who know more than I do would be greatly appreciated. The final will be on display in the lobby next summer so come take a look. And come back to this blog for more posts about our progress. The expected completion is spring 2012 when the Inn will re-open with 14 new rooms and suites. See you then!
Late September is often cool and crisp, punctuated by the smell of woodsmoke as people start using their fireplaces to take the chill off rather than fire up the gas-burning boiler. Grass mowing ends as the cool air ends the growing season and the tomato crop withers on the vine.
Not this year.
It has been hot, like middle-of-summer hot here for a week now. Research vessels in to prep for peregrinations to southern climes are lingering to enjoy the fine weather. Even the hard-working scientists are off early to go fishing or ride the bikepath. I know the locals are into it because I see people sneeking off from work in their bathing suits, and heads bobbing way out in Buzzards Bay on long-distance swims. In this calm, warm weather, why not?
I got out in my boat over the weekend, trudging across to Great Harbor with my oars, launching my tiny rowboat from the beach on Penzance and rowing out to my slightly bigger boat to go explore the Elizabeth Islands. I brought a sweatshirt because you never know on the water but, wow, was that unnecessary! It was so hot I was yearning to jump in by the time I had the engine fired up.
Woods Hole Great Harbor is filled with the most wonderful and eccentric boats. I love this one, a tiny tug boat all made of well-polished wood from another era. Not too practical, but adorable.
Clearly, I am a little obsessed with this vessel as I look through my photo-files for other shots of the harbor and find only more of the “Amycita.” I don’t see her off the mooring often, but I do look forward to meeting her owners. Imagine a cruise over to Oak Bluffs (a great destination on Martha’s Vineyard) in this stylish vessel!
And this is NOT the only miniature tug in our little harbor. My friend Kimberly is lucky enough to have this wonderful boat, small as the smallest skiff but ooh, what style. She was seen leaving work early yesterday madly texting to friends about a sunset tug cruise. These are the perks of living so close to the water:)
So I guess this is what you would call Indian Summer. Since my visit to Plimouth Plantation, I may need to re-name that Native People’s Summer. Whatever you call it, it is something to be relished — summer weather long after is it expected to be gone is like a gift from the Gods (the Wampanoags called him/her “Moshop”). Something to inspire us and help us prepare for the long winter ahead.
Off to swim!
Thursdays are pick-up day at Coonamessett Farm’s CSA (community supported agriculture) where I have already paid for my “share” of farm fresh veggies, flowers and fruit. It also happens to be the day I stock up on Sippewissett Oysters (a local harvest that is a side project of Coonmessett) for the Quicks Hole restaurant, so if you want to see me in summer, you will find me over there like clockwork.
The CSA started distributing a few weeks ago and as you can imagine, summer is a little errr, can we say BUSY, for me so I have not yet had time to head out into the fields to pick my own berries as offered each week. Yesterday when I left Woods Hole it was foggy and cold — hard to believe in the middle of what the papers are calling the first heatwave of the summer. Seven miles inland on the rolling acres of the farm, the sun was shining and it was warm — not too hot, just perfect.
So I said, check-in be damned, I am picking some berries! I donned a wrist band, grabbed a bucket and headed into the blueberry patch. Surrounded by a light mesh fence, you enter through a screen door and then you are in a maze, rows and rows and rows of six to seven foot high bushes heavy with berries, many still green but the bright blue ones popping out at you like fireflies on a dusky night. I quickly walked to the back corner to find more berries and feel alone, then worked my way backwards towards the gate.
It was the most zen hour of my week. Alone, deep in these lush bushes, looking for berries, my thoughts erased to nothing more than reach, pick, cradle, dump. The satisfying plunk of the plump berry in the bottom of the bucket, the steady breeze bending the trees in waves, while I reached higher for the one at the very top, the wind taunting me by pushing the largest cluster away. A meditation on nothing more than a simple task. My purse hanging from my arm like a vestige of some long forgotten suburban life, my feet shuffling among the fallen leaves and compost, I felt like a different person, maybe a farm girl from another century or a field worker like the ones you see in a blur while driving on the California freeways.
My bucket full and my head miraculously emptied of the everyday worries, I wandered out and gathered the other veggies — a bag of fresh kale, five spring onions still clumped with soil, parsley, summer squash, fresh flowers and more. Still in a blueberry haze, I drove home with the windows down enjoying the way my hair blows into a huge fuzz ball with the humidity.
I paused on the lawn to snap this picture. Another indulgence! Get back to work, the little voice on my shoulder was shouting — but I can not shake off the clear headed feeling of the blueberry patch. I linger. I snap a few more of the berries on the kitchen counter and the flowers in that little blue vase I found at the Rose Bowl on another zen day many years ago. Blueberry Zen.
Then back to work at the inn, prepping tomorrow’s banana bread pudding and welcoming guests as they check in for the weekend. Yes, our blueberry muffins are very special this weekend — I picked the berries myself!
Locavores who want to recreate my zen blueberry experience will be pleased to know that Coonmessett is open to visitors as well, so drive on over to pick your own bucket before heading back to reality.
This dispatch by Casey Manning, a wonderful writer who is here with us for the summer:
“There’s something internal that breeds in those who grow up in landlocked states — something that fascinates them about water. For those who age watching blurred cornfields out of passenger windows, it’s hard to fathom the expanse of endless blue that must exist along the far-reaching coasts. For those who can’t claim a single acquaintance with a boating license, the term “lost at sea,” etched here in so many memorial park benches and aging gravestones, is both haunting and intangible.
And so when I arrived in Woods Hole mere weeks ago, Ohio born and raised, I was equally fascinated and slightly unsettled by the ever-presence of water at every turn. A cool evening spent on the bike path lent countless bodies of ponds, bogs, and marshes new meaning to what I had always clumped together easily as “lakes.”
And when, on a jog along that same path, tempting dark-clouded faith to get in a tempo run for my Falmouth Road Race training, it started to rain, something pulled me off the paved path and toward a beach. I sat mesmerized in the downpour for what felt like hours by the monstrous churning of the ocean and the dissolving of sea and sky. Like many things of terrible beauty, what sparkles on the surface merely hints at what immeasurable force and incomprehensible fervor lies beneath.
I’ve spent countless summers sunning myself on pool decks, relishing the first hint of chlorine smell on my skin and knowing won’t fade until September, splashing around in hopes that my pre-teen crush will notice, and flying past the ever-present “NO RUNNING SIGNS” that I never failed to disobey. And by the age I could stand on my tippy toes in the deep end, I thought I had conquered water in its most magical, otherworldly-blue form.
But an infinite ocean, like the myth concerning Eskimos and their words for snow, lends its reveler countless new definitions of the shade we call blue. My first summer defined on a scale, variably hued.
When I talk to friends back home (who are just as amazed as I that I’ve found myself on Cape Cod for the summer), the first thing they never fail to ask is if I’ve been to the beach.
“Of course!” I respond, giddily detailing minutes walks, breezy bike rides, and quick ferries to beach after beach after beach.
But I know what they envision — white sand and sparkling water under a bountifully blazing sun — and it no longer matches my own mind’s painted scene. For now my Midwestern sensibilities can appreciate not only the postcard-perfect calm of an ocean moment frozen in time, but the live, vicious churning that can surround; teasing to pull me in and never let go so that I too could dare to become a shade of blue.”
–Casey Manning, Cape Cod Summer 2011
The sky was glowering when I biked out of Woods Hole on the Shining Sea bike path yesterday, with a blustery wind blowing from the southeast which is where the summer storms blow in from. The breeze was warm enough, it was cool and pleasant, a perfect day to explore.
The bike path, which is one of the biggest draws to Falmouth, is on the reclaimed path of the old railroad tracks (abandoned in the 1960s). This means it is a nice straight line, far from any road except a handful you cross along the way. How rarely do we get to bike on a paved road nowhere near a car? A special experience, it makes me wish that cities and towns across the country would have to foresight to install a unique right of way such as this one.
The bike path was extended last year, and now runs 11 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. I dream that someday it will extend (as the abandoned train tracks still do) all the way to the Cape Cod Canal and hook up with the path that swoops out toward Provincetown making all of the Cape safely bike-able and connecting us in a green way to our neighbors in Chatham, Wellfleet, Truro and beyond.
I am working towards riding the whole thing round trip, and yesterday I made it past the five mile marker. The first mile out of Woods Hole is in the shady beech forest, passing over several old wooden bridges the bike wheels going thump thump thump on the weathered boards. There are glimpses through the trees of the houses on Fay Road that line a private beach looking out at Vineyard Sound. Tiny intriguing foot paths veer off to the right and left with small painted “private please” signs.
About a mile up, you get your first big reveal of the ocean. Surf Drive, one of the most beautiful of Falmouth’s many beaches, stretches two miles before you, surf crashing today over the breakwaters, the shore dotted with little cabins on stilts. I think of the people who used to come here on the train, most headed to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, and imagine that this view was an exciting moment as they emerged from the woods and saw Vineyard Sound for the first time, caught a whiff of that distinctive smell of eel grass drying in the sun, and felt the cool breeze off the water. I can only imagine this was the first real taste of summer vacation.
Yesterday, the southeasterly wind buffeted my bike as soon as I emerged from the woods. I passed the Trunk River which is a tidal pond that empties into the ocean. Herring run here in season, and fisherman gather at the breakwaters to catch fish drawn to the current. There is another small wooden bridge, and a sign about the life of the tidal river that is worth a quick stop.
From here, the path veers inland, back into the lee, past several conservation sites with salt-water pond views and walks, toward the main streets of Falmouth. The vista to the left across the Oyster Pond is particularly delightful, even on a gray day, with the Spohr Gardens in the distance. Once in Falmouth, you can take a right off the path at the bus station for a pick-me-up at the locally-run Coffee Obsession on Palmer Ave., or continue onto Main Street for ice cream, homemade fudge, cupcakes and lots of fun local shopping.
I did not stop, as the weather was still threatening. Past the village, from the path you can see the back side of the bus station, the back corners of the Steamship Authority parking lot, and the cooking vents of Seafood Sam’s then you are back in the woods again, the canopy high above you and the light filtered green with the glow of the spring leaves.
I made it up to the Sippewisset Marsh, about mile five, before the rain started coming down in those large droplets that you can almost dodge between but indicate that much more is likely on the way. I paused to look out over the marsh and read a sigh posted there about the Wampanoag. It says, among other things, that “Sippewisset” means “place of the brook” and that this was a sacred site for Native Americans on their annual peregrination towards the fishing holes and summer hunting of what we now call Woods Hole and the islands.
History buffs will enjoy learning that this marsh is also the site of Rachel Carson’s 1950’s era scientific exploration into the devastating effects of DDT (a pesticide) on the environment which inspired her to write “Silent Spring” the book that launched the environmental movement in the US, ultimately inspiring the US Congress to ban the use of DDT. Were she alive today, she would reflect again on the sacred beauty of this marsh, again filled with osprey and many other shore birds that have returned due to her clarion call. Even with the threatening rain, I pause for several minutes to appreciate this achievement, a nice confluence of the scientific with the spiritual. Louis Agassiz would approve.
The ride home, I pick up the pace as the rain starts to come in earnest. It is all subtlety downhill now, I realize as soon as I turn around, and the trip back is faster and easier. I fall into a trance as the rain drips softly from my hat and the view in reverse rushes past.
Rolling back into Woods Hole, almost two hours and ten miles later, I am ready for a snack and a place to put my wet feet up. Lobster taco time! Thank god for Quicks Hole, the restaurant on Luscombe Avenue across from the Landfall, the perfect spot for a dripping wet biker to unwind a bit before heading back to that comfortable suite at the Woods Hole Inn.
We have hosted countless bridal brunches, catered many bridesmaids luncheons and launched quite a number of rehearsal dinners. Offering the accommodations for the bridal party, or the extended family of the groom? Done that many times over. But with only room for about 70 guests in the waterview terrace, I will be the first to admit that the Woods Hole Inn was a wedding ceremony virgin.
All that changed this Friday with the glorious nuptials of Kim and Jason.
It rained all week, cloudy, foggy, overcast and no glimmer of sunshine recorded in the three day advance forecast. Oh dear, I thought, we should have insisted on a tent! But I knew that tenting the garden would ruin that feeling of endless sky, and mute the Cape light to something diffused and ordinary. Kim and Jason agreed, and they were willing to risk cramming everyone inside in case of a downpour. Amazingly, and despite all prognostications, the day emerged with only a light fog shimmering on the harbor, melting off the Passage with an early morning sun. By afternoon, it was the first hot day of the spring. It was also the weekend of the much publicized “Rapture.” When we made it to late afternoon Friday with no rain, I thought, there is a God.
Kim and Jason were staying in room 5, with friends and family surrounding them in every room of the house. Sara baked all day to prepare special wedding breakfasts and the smells of fresh baked pound cake mingled with the bacon and roasted asparagus for the over-stuffed quiches. We scrubbed and strategized, weeded the garden and swept the back corners of all the porches, even dusted off our radio kits to make sure communication would be seamless during the ceremony. Extra valets were on hand, and a team of extra servers from Quicks Hole to assure that every detail went off without a hitch.
At the appointed hour, all the guests hushed and gathered in front of the harbor, with Jason waiting for her in his signature green pants, Kim peeked out of room 6, giggled with the flower girls and kissed her father. Gripping his arm, they walked down the driveway to emerge in the late afternoon Cape light. She seemed to glide across the sandy terrace, up onto a modest platform where they embraced tenderly, a ferry boat headed to the Vineyard pulling out of the slip as if on cue as the ceremony commenced. I was hiding in the back with my camera and captured their altar embrace, his eyes closed, lips pressed to her forehead.
Guests squeezed each others hands as vows were exchanged, a harpist perched in the shade on the deck punctuating the moment with her soft plucking. The best man expressed his love for the couple along with prayers for a wonderful long life together. And then it was done!
Champagne and freshly shucked local oysters, fresh lobster crostini with sweet pea garnish and snow peas piped with herbed cream cheese appeared on platters. Pitchers of cool Cape Cod beer, the IPA and the Blonde. Glasses of Chardonnay to toast the newlyweds, extra bottled water for the little ones.
All in all, a wonderful afternoon for the Woods Hole Inn — wedding virgins no more! A special thanks to Kim and Jason for sharing their big day with us. May the blessings of a sunny day on Cape Cod be in their hearts forever.
At the Woods Hole Inn, we often spend a lot of time on the “table” part of farm-to-table but today I got to head out into the field and see one of the farms that we source food from in the summer.
Coonamessett Farm was founded over 30 years ago by Ron Smolovitz, who along with his wife had a passion to save a piece of open land slated for development. On their 2o plus acres, Ron farms everything from lettuce to turkey. His rolling meadows with their vineyards and neat rows of lettuce, tomato, zucchini and summer squash are quite the summer destination for everything from weddings to the passionate members of his CSA.
Spring is the time to visit if you want to see where all that bounty comes from, so I headed over there yesterday in the pouring rain with a list of the produce we consume weekly to supply our breakfast kitchen and Quicks Hole — for example, 50 lbs of fresh tomatoes a week to make our signature pico de gallo fresh daily! Try over 20 dozen eggs a week for the Woods Hole Inn’s fresh baked breakfasts? Yeah, it all adds up.
It was pouring anew when Ron and I zipped into his rain covered golf cart and sped across the meadow to the growing cluster of greenhouses. Ron put in a windmill a few years back and he explained that running the farm vehicles on electricity rather than gas helps keep down the price of vegetables.
We met with Stan Ingram, field boss at Coonamessett, who was literally ankle deep in mud transplanting rows of baby plants to larger containers (those are his amazing hands in the photo above). The long low plastic roof of the greenhouse cast the most gorgeous diffused light and the drum of rain on the roof was soporific. A lovely tiger cat leapt to greet me with a deep purr. What a peaceful place, I thought. “Earlier today when it was really coming down, we could not have held a conversation in here,” Stan remarked with a wry smile.
We talked about when they expect certain crops to come in, why they can’t grow tomatoes earlier (heating the greenhouses to 55 degrees costs too much money) and the logistics of getting relatively small batches of produce down to Woods Hole two or three times per week. Their crispy arugula is essential for our “Wicked Fresh” salad — a best seller at Quicks Hole — but at the end of the day, it’s all about logistics. Stan offered to plant more basil and cilantro to meet our weekly demand. He also cautioned me against holding him to any dates. I guess the plants mature when they feel like it, not just for our Quicks Hole opening day (which is May 6th this year, by the way).
Another exciting development is the local cultivation of oysters which Ron is going to distribute. I signed Quicks Hole up for weekly delivery of the new “Sippewissett” which is out in Buzzards Bay fattening up right now from the cold winter. Ron says the first of them will be ready by mid May. Yum.
I left with a list of wholesale prices, an order form… and a greater sense of purpose. It’s not easier to source this way, actually it’s much, much harder. But the sense of satisfaction in knowing my little business can be a part of keeping this meadow open for Ron and his golf cart? Yeah, that feels good.
Hopefully it tastes good too. Come check it out this summer at Quicks Hole, 6 Luscombe Ave in Woods Hole. More info and our menu at www.quicksholewickedfresh.com.
At the Woods Hole Inn, we stay GREEN by the deep BLUE sea.
How do we do it? Let me count the ways:
We recycle. We re-use. We use low VOC paints even though they cost a fortune. We never print on paper what we can file electronically. We offer discounts to customers who come by bus. We keep the heat turned down and do not use AC, ever! We turn lights and fans off when we can. We ask guests to participate with us by re-using towels and sheets when they can. We supply eco-chic toilet paper even when guests sometimes beg for evil-Charmin.
What do we hope to do? Add solar panels. Build a roof garden for herbs and natural insulation. Finish insulating the building. Find a local farm to take our compost. Build a chicken coop and serve eggs made from our own hens. Plant a garden to keep it super locavore. Live on the 100 mile diet.
Any other good ideas for me?