This past weekend my extended family (mom’s side) gathered in Sudbury, Massachusetts for a combination graduation party/family reunion. Massachusetts is my mom’s provenance and it’s a place rife with Revolution history. Childhood visits to the grandparents meant stops at Plymouth Rock and the like, and this weekend’s trip followed course. Starting with lunch at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn we spent the day catching up with each other and also, as the day continued, learning about Massachusetts history and folklore.
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn
The history: The Inn has welcomed hungry and tired travelers for almost 300 years, beginning in Colonial times. Henry Ford is to credit for preserving the Inn as a non-profit historic landmark.
Today: The Inn serves lunch and dinner 364 days per year, and the menu features classic New England dishes with a modern flair. (Don’t worry, they’re still generous with the mashed potatoes.) There’s no required check-in to dine, though guest rooms are available for a stay. It’s also — as we witnessed — a popular site for wedding functions.
Mary Had a Little Lamb Schoolhouse
The history: Who knew a little Massachusetts girl and her lamb could spawn so much debate? Mary and her schoolhouse have a relatively convoluted history, and to this day no one can claim to know the full truth about it all. As the poem goes, Mary’s lamb did follow her to school one day, which caused a ruckus. There was a visiting minister-in-training of sorts, John Roulstone, present to witness the fracas, and he returned to the school the next day with a slip of paper containing the first few stanzas of the poem. Whether Roulstone wrote the entire poem or Sarah Josepha Hale, who is the acknowledged author in poem’s first publication, finished it up, we do not know. Regardless of who is the rightful author, Mary’s incident in 1830 became a cultural phenomenon.
Today: Henry Ford (there he is again!) moved what he believed to be the original schoolhouse to a field adjacent to the Wayside Inn, where it now sits. Visitors during the school’s “open” hours are free to peek around the house. If a guide is present (and I believe one generally is during open hours), I recommend sitting in to hear about the history of the house as well as about America’s past educational practices — yes, switching was involved. Our guide was dressed true to Colonial times, and there were even some hoops and sticks out for playing.
Wayside Inn Grist Mill
The history: Hydraulic engineer J.B. Campbell built the grist mill in 1929. If it looks vaguely familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it on a Pepperidge Farm product. Apparently, the company used the mill for production from 1952-1967 and the Pepperidge Farm logo is based on its picturesque look.
Today: The mill continues to churn out five tons of flour per year, some of which goes into the Wayside Inn’s offerings. It’s definitely worth a visit, whether to be in the presence of classic New England charm or to pick up a lesson on white flour versus wheat from the miller. And if you need more convincing, just check out these lovely, nostalgia-charged Yelp entries.
Start at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn; everything is within walking distance. 72 Wayside Inn Road, Sudbury, MA. 978-443-1776.
–Karina for TKGO