The American Inn
Riverton, Connecticut, USA
My girlfriend Amy and I spent a sunny March day sightseeing in northern Connecticut. We had taken numerous photographs of remarkable trees, such as the famous Pinchot sycamore, and visited Ender’s Falls in the pine forests of the Tunxis hills. Then, after a day of exploring, we were ready to relax. Amy had put up all day with my stubborn refusal to mark our destination. “Are you going to tell me where we’re going?” “Guess.” She rattled through a list and hit the jackpot: an inn. Earlier, she had guessed a bed and breakfast, which I denied. They are different planets as far as I’m concerned. A bed and breakfast is simply someone’s open house, but an inn is a lodging tradition, a living museum, a gathering of people and their history.
|The Old Riverton Inn|
At an old crossroads on the scenic Route 20, a bridge led to the front door of the Old Riverton Inn, proclaimed by a sign secured to the roof of the three-story building. In the times before automobiles, stage drivers would stop at their favorite inns, bringing travelers and business. There were several rival stage companies that operated between New Hartford and Riverton in Connecticut, part of a larger network of the Hartford to Albany post route. The gray-sided Riverton Inn, built in 1796, is the only survivor of this lodging-path. A bay window in the tavern downstairs occupied the place where a front door would have stood in former times. Huge pines shaded the colonial inn and thickened up the river valley’s flanks. A friendly sign hung from a branch of one of these old trees above the innyard carpark, telling us “Hospitality for the hungry, thirsty, and sleepy.”
|An old hospitality sign|
Our room perched above the restaurant, directly above the table we would dine at later. The liberal windows granted views of the west branch of the Farmington River and the old Hitchcock chair factory. The centerpiece was a generous king-sized Hitchcock bed with antique headboard. A long green chaise lounge angled in the corner for daybed lollygagging. Floral wallpaper, an antique spinning wheel turned into a planter, and an old fireplace completed the nostalgic tableau. A step up into the bathroom led to white towels on mahogany racks and the exposed pipes of an ancient sink. And as a surprise I had prepared for Amy, on the chest of drawers near the door a bottle of champagne rested on ice next to a wrapped box of fine chocolates. The living, timeless romance of the inn leant itself greatly to this more common form, solidifying and enhancing an act that might in other places be considered trite and over-sentimental.
|Comfort for the weary|
A place outside of time, a gathering of people and history, stability and permanence in our time-scattered lives…the inn was all this and more. Restored by its love, Amy and I enjoyed a country breakfast in the morning before heading off to hike the snowy People’s State Forest. As we left the innyard, another car pulled in, another story ready to happen, leaving no break in the romance of continuity.