I used to think I’d never want to be a sea captain’s wife. Waiting, always waiting for his ship to come in. Pacing, forever pacing the widow’s walk. Are those his sails I see on the horizon? Is another storm rolling in? Maybe he’ll bring me a cache of fragrant spices from the East Indies.
Well, all this was before I stayed at The Captain Jefferds Inn, one of several former sea captains’ mansions in Kennebunkport that’s been converted to a Bed & Breakfast. I guess those salty sea captains, engaged as they were in lucrative trade and shipbuilding, liked having tangible symbols of their wealth and status on full display in the community. It was good of them to provide their left-behind wives with a nice place to hang out in their absence, don’t you think?
Captain William Jefferds was especially lucky. Rather than having to build his own mansion, he and his wife Sarah received their beautiful Federal-style home as a wedding gift from Sarah’s father. It was built in 1804, and it wasn’t long before the pitter patter of twenty-two little feet echoed within its walls. I doubt Sarah was ever bored when William was out to sea. Come to think of it, with eleven children, it doesn’t sound like William was gone all that much.
It’s a lovely coincidence that today there’s another Sarah helping to keep things ship shape and above board in this fine house: with her husband Erik, the Lindbloms continue to preserve the historic integrity and glorious splendor of the mansion while providing their guests with superior, white-glove accommodations and congenial service.
I do not exaggerate at all when I say this inn is exquisitely maintained and absolutely immaculate (you can eat off the floor) with careful attention paid to every last detail. Each of its 15 rooms and suites is decorated differently, the common rooms are gorgeous and welcoming, and the well-manicured gardens are a haven of natural beauty.
Brandon checked us into the Chatham Room on the first floor in the oldest part of the main house. Though not the largest room we stayed in on our trip, it was easily the coziest and most comfortable. Loved the soothing green and cream decor, ten-foot ceilings, four poster bed with featherbed and silky sateen sheets, preserved hardwood floors, cushy Oriental rug, fully tiled bath.
It had every modern amenity we could wish for, yet we always felt like we were pleasantly immersed in another century. I liked being on the first floor because it was easy to pop over to the kitchen to help ourselves to Keurig coffee, fresh-squeezed lemonade, bottled water and soft drinks anytime.
Shortly after we settled in, we headed to the sunroom for afternoon tea. Such a pretty room with a wonderful selection of loose leaf teas, light hors d’oeuvres and homemade cookies! I reached into the bottomless cookie jar for a cranberry oatmeal, then savored every crumb of what I think was an almond shortbread cookie. Total yum. Actually I wouldn’t mind living in that sunroom, tapping on my laptop and sipping Geisha Green while Len reads his Star Wars book.
Breakfast the next morning in the cheery, light-filled dining room was a bit more formal. We opted for the first seating and enjoyed a yummy 3-course meal served by a pretty, hardworking young woman who really should smile more.
At a table full of strangers, most of whom were from upstate New York, we made awkward smalltalk and were intrigued by the beautiful woman sitting next to me. Both Len and I had the feeling we’d seen or met her before. She was in her early 40’s, immaculately dressed with beautifully coiffed red hair, flawless alabaster skin and red designer glasses. As she talked about her recent forays into genealogy, we tried to think of any films she might have appeared in. Hmmmmm. Marcia Cross?
Alas, our time at The Captain Jefferds Inn was much too short — just a mere one-night stand. But oh, so memorable! The level of service was just right, never intrusive. Help is there if you need it and you can be as private or social as you please. It’s located on a quiet residential street within easy walking distance of Dock Square (center of town) with its shops, restaurants, art galleries and views of the Kennebunk river.
I later learned the Inn belongs to the Select Registry, a group of “cream of the crop” inns/B&Bs. Each SR inn is subjected to unannounced, anonymous, stringent inspections against a detailed point system for quality assurance. Definitely keeps innkeepers on their toes — and the high standards maintained at The Captain Jefferds Inn completely bear this out. It’s something you “feel” as soon as you walk in the door: you can relax because you know you will be well taken care of. After all, when you’re on vacation or celebrating a special occasion, you want to be pampered!
People I Can Envision Staying at Captain Jefferds: Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Sara Orne Jewett, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Horatio Hornblower, Edna St. Vincent Millay, James Fenimore Cooper, mysterious redheads with a penchant for stimulating conversation, you..
Other Nice Touches: Variety of books to read in the closet, fresh flowers in common areas, welcoming candlelights in the windows, stereopticon in the living room, soothing background music, guest computer with printer, beach cruiser bicycles, plush terry robes, makeup mirror & rubber ducky. A pet-friendly inn that offers personalized doggie treats!
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THE CAPTAIN JEFFERDS INN
5 Pearl Street
Meet Sarah and Erik:
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I’m glad we stayed here for our first visit to Kennebunkport, a popular summer playground for over a century. Can’t wait to go back.
To sea, to sea,
the life of a sea captain’s wife
is the only life for me!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.