The Inn is operated on a philosophy of conservation,
respect for the Earth and sustainable living.
The original structure was a cottage built in the late 1800’s. In the summer of 1906 Mary Atherton (Kroupa) opened her cottage as the Sunrise Inn. She added more rooms over the years and changed the name to the Neahtawanta Hotel which operated in the summer and included a restaurant open to the public. Mary was married 3 times but operated the Inn as a single woman from 1927 until her death in 1971 at 99 years old. She was known as a shrewd business woman, is said to have produced homemade gin and always had a cigarette hanging from her lower lip. In the early years she sold blocks of ice that were cut from the harbor and stored in a building behind the Inn. She later sold ice cream to the children who stayed in the cottages on Neahtawanta Point in the summers.
There are many colorful stories about Mary.
After her death, the Inn had limited use until it was purchased by Sally Van Vleck and her then husband, Jim Olson, who oversaw a major renovation beginning in 1978. Jim and Sally moved into the Inn in the spring of 1979 with 3 daughters, Hallie, Katy and Jessie, who grew up living at the Inn. It opened as an Inn in the early ’80’s. After Sally and Jim divorced, Sally remarried Bob Russell. Together they operated the Inn as a Bed & Breakfast with the three girls and Bob’s daughter, Bree Russell. Their shared commitment to promoting environmental stewardship, social justice and peace led to their formation of the Neahtawanta Research & Education Center (NREC) in 1987, which continues to serve as the advocacy and educational expression of our philosophy. Over the years, Sally and Bob welcomed many guests who became lifelong friends; sponsored educational programs including yoga classes and workshops; hosted numerous organizations who share our vision.
Over the years, through walks in the woods, stargazing, singing, swimming, and good conversations around the stone firepit, our community spirit grew deep and strong, sharing both celebrations and sorrows. We have drawn on this energy to weather significant challenges, such as Bob’s illness and death, and a fire in 2013 that caused major damage to the Inn.
Sally has continued to operate the Inn since Bob’s death, carrying on the vision to create a comfortable place to nurture personal and planetary resilience and peace.
The first major renovation was followed by a second renovation in 1995/6 when a first floor wheelchair accessible bedroom and bathroom were added, along with a 2nd floor yoga studio where Sally teaches. At the same time, a new kitchen was created at the back of the Inn, in the location of the original kitchen. It includes Mary Atherton’s 1940’s Garland double oven, six burner stove with a grill top – great for flapping pancakes!
A fire occurred in February, 2013, that damaged about 1/3 of the Inn. So, another (unplanned!) renovation took place from February until October, 2013. A major goal of the renovation was to retain the original character and charm of the old Inn, while updating it for functionality. We’re pleased with the visible results such as fresh paint throughout, new fixtures and tilework, refinished original wood floors and new carpeting. The less obvious improvements include better insulation and improved heating system and state-of-the-art smoke alarms. Today, it feels like a gracious old Inn, while providing 21st century comforts.
We strive to be ecologically sensitive, using nontoxic products and products made from recycled content, providing recycling options and serving organic food. The gardens surrounding the Inn are maintained without toxic sprays and are fertilized with compost made by Sally and her worms.
The Inn is operated on a philosophy of conservation, respect for the Earth and sustainable living.
Morning yoga classes are available for guests, led by Sally; the room is also open for guests to practice on their own.
Our work is manifested in the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center, a nonprofit organization working on peace, community, sustainable use of resources and personal growth issues, housed at the Inn.