When the Deerfield Inn was opened in July 1884 by two brothers whose earlier inn on the village common had been destroyed by fire, a plague of grasshoppers was devouring its way across a drought-stricken Franklin County. Not surprisingly there is nothing written about the actual opening date, but in the Gazette and Courier, July 14, 1884, a reporter noted that “Mr. J.M. Bradley has a good business at the new hotel.”
A week later the papers reported that the grasshoppers continued to devour all crops and that ravaged farmers were slaughtering their cattle for lack of water. The inn’s summer visitors apparently stayed on, despite the heat and the voracious locusts. On September 1, 1884, a Deerfield reporter writes that, “the summer boarders are folding their tents and stealing away, browner and better for their stay.”
During the first 15 years of its operation, guests arrived by stagecoach, carriages, and on horseback. (The carriage house and stables were built in 1883 prior to the inn being built. Names of the horses that were perhaps harnessed to bring guests to the inn in a trap, or perhaps work the fields, are still painted above the former stalls.) Later, a trolley line ran through the village – stopping right in front of the inn as an old photograph hanging in the inn shows, and by the turn of the century automobiles began to rumble in.
Within a year the inn was enlarged by George Arms, a local builder, and a brochure from 1885 describes the Deerfield Inn as “in all appointments far ahead of the average country hotel.”
The grasshoppers had long gone, but the guests stayed on and kept coming for—as a brochure from the 1920s promised – “the atmosphere and charm of early days, with modern comfort and convenience.” Breakfast started at 30¢, dinner could be had for $1.00, and a double room with running water was priced at $3.00.
A postcard we found on Ebay, signed by ‘Carl’, posted for one penny, and written in July 1923 to his friends the Fabriques, declares the Deerfield Inn “a very, very nice place indeed.”
We are still a full-service Deerfield Massachusetts bed and breakfast in its original site on Old Main Street in a village listed as a National Historic Landmark, still surrounded by period houses, working farms, and beautiful open countryside. This little part of Franklin County is rightly known as The Happy Valley.
The Deerfield Inn now has 24 guestrooms combined in the main inn and its carriage house. The hay loft door is still there, and the horse weathercock still turns. The front porch ceilings are still robin’s egg blue, and indigenous plantings are still in the gardens. The floors in the main inn run up and downhill and around unexpected turns, and we understand from many, many guests that the same old nosy and sometimes cheeky ghosts still wander.
Your room is ready at our bed and breakfast in Massachusetts, with or without ghosts, and we look forward to welcoming you here.