Longfellow's Wayside Inn
300 Years in Sudbury, Massachusetts
Yes, indeed, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow not only slept here, but he wrote about the Inn and the characters he met during his stay in his "Tales of a Wayside Inn", published in 1863. Longfellow made his home in Cambridge, and came to the Inn as it was a popular resort for parties from Harvard College.
“When Longfellow published his Tales, this was quite a boon to business,” said current Innkeeper Steve Pickford. “The Inn has been on this spot for 300 years. We have an enviable history.
"Many" notables, including George Washington, passed through here. We are designated as a Massachusetts Historic Landmark and are part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We’re also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Way back in 1716, a gentleman named David Howe opened a tavern on one of the first mail routes in this country — the Boston Post Road. His business thrived due to his fortunate location — a thoroughfare for coach traffic to and from Boston, Worcester and New York. From that time until 1861, the Howe family owned and operated the Inn — each generation expanding the main building. This was the genesis of the Wayside Inn. From 1923 to 1960, the Inn was part of Henry Ford’s Historic Preservation. Today, it is run as a non-profit historic landmark.
The Inn has ten overnight rooms, a post-and-beam colonial-style dining room with wood-burning fireplace that seats 250, private dining, a ballroom and a tent in the garden for weddings. The property has 125 acres, many historic buildings and notably, a white chapel with an imposing steeple — a big draw for brides and grooms. Another big draw for tourists is the quaint stone gristmill, its waterwheel painted bright red. “We grind all our own flours here for use in our bakery,” Steve Pickford said.
Pickford was the chef at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn for 12 years. He left to pursue other opportunities, including hotel/restaurant management with Sheraton and Marriott, and a stint as a center-of-the-plate specialist with Reinhart. He returned to the Inn as food and beverage manager before being named innkeeper.
Obviously, Pickford knows his way around a menu, and he knows his demographic. “We cater to traditionalists, for the most part. An older clientele comes in for lunch, and for many of them, this is their main meal of the day. That’s why we include some heartier selections on our lunch menu.” Prime Ribs of Beef, Yankee Pot Roast with whipped potatoes, and Oven-Roasted Breast of Turkey with cornbread-sausage stuffing are favorites. The lunch menu also features oysters, bacon-wrapped scallops, soups, main dish salads and sandwiches. The well-named Nantucket Lunchbox contains a lobster slider and clam chowder.
At dinner, Prime Rib is the best-seller. Broiled Boston Scrod, Roast Duckling and Lobster Casserole share billing with seafood and steak options. For dessert, guests are tempted with Deep Dish Apple Pie a la Mode, Baked Indian Pudding (made with cornmeal from the gristmill and molasses) and Pecan Chocolate Chip Bourbon Pie.
For a blast from the past, “Old Bar” libations are available, including the Coow Woow, said to be America’s first mixed drink, with rum and ginger brandy; and the Stone Wall, a Revolutionary War favorite made with gin and apple jack.