blue, The Inn On The Beach
by Donald Anthony
On a dune near the beach, sitting in a chair close to the water is where you’ll find me. Please don’t talk to me. I am restoring my spirit at blue, on Plum Island, Massachusetts. (Note: the small b.)
The day starts slowly. First the birds get up and after a few hours the sun starts to brighten the sky; then the chairs get pulled onto the beach front. I drag my sleepy limbs into the surf. Then it’s back to bed. The day is just the way I planned it. This is blue, the Inn on the Beach.
Attach:blue_inn.jpg Δ |blue, The Inn On The Beach
Close to the major highways, yet nestled on a sand dune over-looking the ocean, blue has a way of allowing you to feel as if the place is your own: your own room, your own deck, your own beach. If you are in the cottages, privacy is an extra benefit. (I even found a hot tub tucked away in the back.) There are two main facilities: the main house and the cottages. The main house is on the beach, and the cottages are across the road. Both are conveniently close to the parking lot.
Attach:blue_inn_2.jpg Δ |The Business Side of blue
While I never met Jeanne Geiger, her vision of the inn shows in the design and workmanship of the renovation and in the pride of the employees. The design achieves the right mix of privacy and attention, and the staff follow suit. One late morning, I was on the deck resting and the staff came into to attend to the room. I never even heard the elves make the bed, straighten the room, and do a million or so other welcoming little things. They met every standard set in the publicity brochure. The spa robes were there, the toiletries were there, the hot tubs were working and, to enhance the evening, there were chilled drinks in the fridge. As if the ocean was not enough of a mood setter, there is even a gas fireplace in the room to warm up the night air. They promised pampering and they delivered.
In my case, no activity is an activity, almost a profession; however for the more adventurous, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is nearby, as is the town of Newburyport. Newburyport is an old fishing village. The layout of the town has been modernized so that it is accessible by car, but the public parking along the waterfront means that the parked cars are nearly invisible. The commercial downtown area contains a typical variety of restaurants, clothing stores, and souvenir shops. However, one department store, Richdale's, stopped me in my tracks with a 25 cent hot dog. No tricks here; drop a quarter and grab a frank. I could have eaten my heart out, but I was glad I’d managed to control myself when I sat down for dinner that night. The restaurant, Michaels, included easy parking, waterfront seating, and great food. I started with the sautéed mussels and then went to the Rhode Island Calamari. Oh yes! I will be back to sample more of this menu.
While in Newburyport, I stopped into two historic homes preserved and cared for by Historic New England: the Coffin House and the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm.
I was certainly impressed by the extensive amount of restoration in both houses and the lessons in architecture and historic sensitivity provided by the staff. The Coffin House was built about 1678, and over the ensuing years the building was expanded to accommodate succeeding family members and their living arrangements. The house shows how different families used the same building. Renovations were done, and are being done, in an almost seamless manner, and the maintenance is remarkably unobtrusive.
Attach:coffin_house.jpg Δ |The Coffin House
The Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm (1690) still has working farmland even as the house is presented as an exhibit. Here the lesson is in restoration of an older building where the support structure has been weakened by time and nature. While there is still much to do, what has already been accomplished is almost overwhelming. Steel framework that has been installed between the wall studs and roof rafters holds up the house and supports the floors. It is an almost independent endoskeleton hidden behind the plaster. Fortunately, some of the walls and attic areas have been left open for academic study and workmanship appreciation.
Attach:spenser_farm.jpg Δ |The Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm
Both of these homes represent a living restoration textbook for students, architects, and civic historians.
There is so much to do in Newburyport that picking just one activity might be a little overwhelming. The North Boston Convention and Visitors’ Bureau publishes a guide that breaks it all down, and the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce is helpful as well.
blue, the Inn on the Beach offers a variety of vacation and weekend packages, so a little “webwork” here can be an advantage. Visit their website at blueinn.com. While you are on the web, check out the webcam for the weather and the surf. You might even catch me walking on the beach, although if you do . . . please do not disturb. I’m busy relaxing.