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Hospitality at the Quaker Tavern Inn

By Linda Lesko Share:

PLASTER BITS

A PUBLICATION OF THE CENTER FOR PAINTED WALL PRESERVATION

Hospitality lives on at the Quaker Tavern Inn…..

Above, the antique building is registered as a national landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to operate as a tavern today -the Quaker Tavern Inn, a Bed and Breakfast.

The Federal style Hall’s Tavern in Falmouth, ME, now known as the Quaker Tavern Inn, was built in the first decade of the nineteenth century by Nicolas Hall.  All interior structural evidence implies this Federal antique home, of gracious proportions, served as the local tavern for nearly 90 years. A wonderful taproom in the righthand parlor remains virtually unchanged to this day.  

Nicolas Hall was born in Dover, NH, the 11th child of Hatevil Hall, a Quaker, who moved to Falmouth in 1753 “becoming one of the best and most thrifty farmers of this section”. (Portland Monitor, 1872). Hall married and, as his family grew in size, the house was said to have been moved from the “Old Road’ to its present location on the Gray Road. Mr. Hall deeded the home to his 10th and youngest child, Ozmi, who turned it into a public house around 1828. The home stayed in the extended family until the late 1890s.  

The stenciling on three of the walls is very traditional and in the style of Moses Eaton.  The designs and motifs in the inn’s little room at the Quaker Tavern include the “three big oak leaves” frieze, a chair rail stencil of small green marching leaves, diamond and petal verticals, Maine pineapples and oak leaf clusters. 

Presently it serves the community as a bed and breakfast with much of the interior virtually unchanged.  The current owner explained that several rooms in this home had originally been stenciled, but this art form only remains intact and original in one small bedchamber. The simple beauty of the stenciling on plain plastered walls is both pure and elegant.

The stenciling found on the overmantel, however, is quite unusual.  The “three big oak leaves” frieze was carried completely around the room and the stencil of small leaves marches along the top of the mantel.  Yet the design found over the mantelpiece includes hand-drawn trees with sponge-work foliage, small stenciled birds, and prancing horses.  These horses are similar to the horses seen on the chimney breast in the Hall Tavern Ballroom, Historic Deerfield MA, and at the Mather House in Marlboro, VT on an overmantel that no longer exists. (See N. F. Little fig.167 American Decorative Wall Painting 1700-1850.). 

Above you can see this combination of stenciling and freehand work, such as sponge work or stippling, has been found in several other houses documented by the CPWP; but the artist’s hand remains a mystery.

Suzanne Korn, a CPWP advisor, documented this location several years ago. She recalls, on the drive home, pondering the little bedchamber’s peaceful spirit and thinking about how time had been kind to the stenciling of red and green patterns still so alive and bright.  Today, it is fitting that this room with its symbolic pineapples is still welcoming tired and weary sojourners who seek no more than a restful night of sleep.

This monthly Plaster Bits is a complimentary offer from the Center for Painted Wall Preservation. Our NEW membership program offers levels from Young Professional at $15 to Benefactor at $500. Donations outside of a membership purchase are also most welcome. Benefits include access to four years of Plaster Bits; the entire virtual Conserving our Painted Past Symposium featuring video presentations; discounts at various museums and events; and more.  As a member you will be helping to support a not-for-profit on the move, preserving painted walls and educating the public about them. One can take great pride in such patronage!

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The Center for Painted Wall Preservation is dedicated to documentation and preservation of the painted past of these artisans. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

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