The Rosewood Country Inn
A Peaceful, Friendly and Old Time Atmosphere
Bradford, New Hampshire, USA
It certainly was not love at first site when former Connecticut natives Lesley and Dick Marquis first laid eyes in 1991 on the Rosewood Country Inn located in Bradford, New Hampshire.
The Town of Bradford was incorporated in 1787 and can boast of having fourteen of New Hampshire’s tallest white pines; a reminder of the unsettled forest-lands that once covered most of Southern New Hampshire.
It is also home to one of New Hampshire’s fifty covered bridges, the Bement Covered Bridge that spans the west branch of the Warner River, and is only minutes away from The Rosewood Inn. It is quite noteworthy that these bridges have been called “kissing bridges” and “courting bridges.”
When I asked Lesley and Dick what made them want to purchase an 1896 boarded up summer inn that had not been in use from 1971 to 1991 their reply was that at the onset, their initial instinct was to baulk and look for another property.
Ultimately, their decision was greatly influenced when the vendor, a bank, was very anxious to rid itself of the property. Lesley exclaimed, “the bank kept on dropping its asking price until it reached a level we could no longer resist!”
Finally, after several trips and some sound advice from a contractor friend, they decided to go full tilt and do whatever it would require to turn this property around. This meant major plumbing and electrical work, and everything else that had to be done – and there was plenty!
The Backyard View
Today, thanks to this enterprising couple’s foresight, imagination and belief in themselves, they have converted this Victorian inn, that at one time comprised twenty-two rooms, into a eleven room establishment where its guests can experience privacy, comfort and intimacy.
And if mountain getaways conjure visions of romance and tranquility, you will love the Rosewood with its extraordinary twelve acre setting, providing romantic couples with ample opportunities to star gaze and enjoy all the magic that Mother Nature offers. It even includes a small pond that I have been informed will shortly be stocked with fish, as well as waterfalls.
Decorated in early Americana, every detail has been attended to insofar as amenities and comforts. Some of the inn’s rooms offer fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, sunlit porches, and all lead to an inviting common room.
Guests probably come just to savor Lesley’s superb breakfasts that are included in the inn’s tariffs. Others, I am informed by the innkeepers, find the inn so romantic, particularly honeymoon and anniversary couples, that they don’t even want to venture out of their rooms. They have Lesley and Dick prepare their famous in-room picnic basket complete with a bottle of wine; shrimp cocktail, chicken-salad-filled croissant, marinated mushrooms, potato salad and cream puffs, and topped off with strawberries for dessert. They are now all set to spend the day in front of a crackling fireplace soaking up the romantic ambience of one of the inn’s suites.
When we visited the inn in May of 2004, we were not at all surprised to learn that guidebook author Pamela Lanier in 2002 called the inn, “one of New Hampshire’s Eight Most Romantic Inns” in Chronicle Books and Inn of the Year, and readers of Arlington’s Bed and Breakfast Journal have voted it the most romantic B&B/Country Inn.
The inn is also popular as a wedding venue, as it specializes in small intimate affairs from two to eighty-five guests. These are celebrated in the Victorian gazebo overlooking the pond or candlelit by a romantic fireplace.
During the early 1900s such Hollywood celebrities as Jack London, Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Chaplin and the Gish Sisters (Lillian and Dorothy) would pass a few days at the inn during the summer. Two of the inn’s suites bear the names of some of these personalities – the Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford rooms.
Tree in the Wind
Another important asset of Rosewood is that Bradford is easy to get to. Located fifteen minutes from Interstate 89, it is only an hour and half drive from Boston, yet it feels quite remote with its secluded romantic mountain inn atmosphere. Life does not get any better and you could not hope to find a lovelier place to spend a romantic getaway with the inn’s close proximity to the Mt. Sunapee Lake Region, the area’s many beaches and state parks, and not to forget great skiing at Mt. Sunapee Ski Area. As for hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, skiing, swimming, and fishing, it is all within easy reach of the inn.
For dining, guests of The Rosewood Inn can take a short leisurely drive to the small historic village and college town of Henniker, where they will discover a memorable romantic dining facility, the Colby Hill Inn.
It is here where Lily and I had the pleasure of meeting the inn’s chef, Jeannine Carney, and indulging in some of her heavenly “contemporary regional New England” dishes. Carney’s culinary philosophy is to use as much of the local home-grown produce and ingredients as possible. Her menu changes quarterly, and she prepares all requests to order, keeping the dishes fairly simple and reflecting the various New England seasons. There are usually nine entrées on the menu and a choice of one hundred and twenty wines, which incidentally has earned the inn “The Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.”
After tasting the pecan crusted rainbow trout with lemon sage butter, carrot ginger flan and basmati scallion rice, it is little wonder why Carney has earned her stellar reputation. Dining at the Colby Hill Inn only confirms what area residents already know – it sets the standard for New England fine cuisine.
Lily, who is quite fussy when it comes to dining, could not help commenting about the freshness of the potato and herb baked halibut, and the leek risotto, asparagus and red pepper coulis. Carney indicated to us that one of her most popular dishes is the Chicken Colby Hill, which is a boneless breast of chicken, stuffed with lobster, leeks and boursin cheese, chardonnay cream with buttered baby spinach and cheddar mashed potatoes.
Another very popular dish is the hazel crusted breast of duck with raspberry Bellini sauce, toasted barley pilaf and warm spring greens. All sounds great, especially for those who are not concerned about their diets!