May 25 • 2011
If you plan to meander your way up Maine’s idyllic coast this summer, we recommend a detour to check out the sweet village of Boothbay Harbor. And if you also happen to be in the market for your wedding venue, by all means, please stop by the oh-so-stunning Spruce Point Inn. Situated on a private point and having recently undergone some major renovations, this is one of our very favorite venues for reasons too lengthy to list but summed up well in this week’s fantastic Inside Peek.
L&L: Spruce Point Inn is a beautiful property in the charming town of Boothbay Harbor. Tell us the story of this seaside resort.
SPRUCE: When you first arrive on Spruce Point, you’ll notice a big stone gateway. That’s because the peninsula was once a private fishing camp for ‘rusticators’ – captains of industry who escaped their desks for a week of fine fishing and cordial entertaining with their colleagues. A getaway along the lines of the famous “camps” in the Adirondacks. But calling this gorgeous property on a peninsula stretching along Linekin Bay a fishing camp is like calling The Breakers in Newport a summer cottage.
The main building at the Inn was built in 1892 by the Marston family from Skowhegan, Maine, and was used as a private hunting and fishing lodge. In 1902, the property was rented to Mrs. Holland, who ran it as a tea house and inn. Ten years later, Walter Holland purchased the inn and continued to operate it with his wife as the Spruce Point Inn and tea house until shortly after World War II. The inn flourished — operating at full capacity with a long waiting list — and a recreation hall (Lighthouse), Balsam Lodge and tennis courts were added. The original classic Down East wood-frame, gambrel roof Victorian still stands. Now containing nine guestrooms, the Inn’s two restaurants, a gameroom and the bright, breezy reception area, the main inn retains the character of the classic Maine shore resort: wood floors, bead-board wainscoting and porch ceilings painted a soothing sky blue. With windows open to the sea breeze and deep wicker chairs, the main floor is a focal point for guests today, as it has been for over 100 years.
During Prohibition, the clubby turn-of-the-century atmosphere of fine whiskies was augmented with local juniper berries. In the 1930s famed swing bands toured the Maine summer resorts including Southport and Boothbay, while town festivals, parades and yacht races added to the fabled charm captured on the pages of the 1936 “Maine Invites You” – featuring Spruce Point Inn. Following WWII, Mr. Holland sold the property to Leroy Race, who operated the inn until 1957. During that time, the average rate was $9 per day — including full American Plan meals (breakfast and dinner).
In 1957, Raymond P. Harold, a neighbor of the inn, purchased the property and turned over management to his daughter, Charlotte, and her husband, John Druce. For the next three decades under the ownership of the Druces, the inn once again began to thrive. Interest in the property grew as new facilities were added. In 1965, the saltwater pool was installed, and a miniature golf course was added. The following year, the Evergreen Lodge was built, and a stone wall was constructed to ring the beach.
The summer of 1967 brought with it the arrival of some very high-profile guests. The pen and ink sketches by Arthur French now found among the guestrooms date from this era as do the photographs showing regular visitors like Senator Ted and Robert Kennedy, their wives, astronaut John Glenn, Andy Williams and Claudine Longest on the dock just back from an afternoon’s sail.
After the Druces decided to retire, in 1991 Ernest Mallett and Bruno DiGiulian purchased the inn, and Joseph Paolillo and Angelo DiGiulian became managers. As innkeepers, Joe and Angelo and their families take special pleasure in recognizing wedding memories a mother might be handing down to her daughter, a new Spruce Point bride on the same romantic spot where her parents took their vows.
A landmark among the Boothbay Harbor summer colonies that have made a name for the destination since the 1870s, Spruce Point Inn offers wedding guests the same unspoiled views, the classic vacation experience that has made indelibly delightful memories for generations.
L&L: Couples are fortunate to have so many places in Maine to choose from to tie the knot. What would you want couples to know about Spruce Point Inn when making their decision that sets you apart?
SPRUCE: You can tell that history and tradition are very much a part of what Spruce Point Inn is all about. Our motto is “creating memories made in Maine” and we take very seriously the idea that we are responsible for creating memories here, to translating the romance of the Inn into personal experiences that get woven into the dense, complicated history that lives in the walls – and that couples who marry here become a part of. We spend two or three hours on the first site visit, getting to know the couple (and often Dad) and learning what’s really important. A wedding is probably the most significant investment you can make for such a short period of time, but it is the most important experience of your life and we know we have just one shot at getting it right. People tell us they’re amazed at how detail-oriented we are, why we have backup plans for our backup plans. To make perfect memories, you need to be on your toes to make sure every detail – every guest – is looked after and planned out, well in advance.
From the ‘made in Maine’ perspective, we enjoy helping the bride and groom match their image of what a Maine wedding should be with all the services and amenities we have to offer. If you’re dreaming of exchanging vows with a view of the ocean, we have several different venues to take advantage of that. Have your photographs taken on a romantic rock-strewn beach or on the wood deck of our dock (by the way, when we were doing some upgrades this winter we found a photograph from the 1960s of the Kennedys on their sailboat, tied up at our dock.) Host your reception in the gardens with special lights illuminating the spruce forest as the evening stretches into night. Or plan the rehearsal dinner as an informal lobster bake where the wedding party gets to spend some time relaxing and enjoying their guests. Our chef Peter Stiles is a master at incorporating locally fished, farmed and harvested foods in his menus. And our wedding team knows every attraction around – from the best day-sail cruises, to guest golf privileges at Boothbay Country Club (just 3 miles away) to the hidden side of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden and all the fun activities you could plan for your guests.
L&L: What services do you offer brides and grooms planning their wedding?
SPRUCE: There is so much more to Spruce Point Inn than just our event venues and accommodations! We have a full service spa who work magic to de-stress the bride, the wedding party (and the groom!) with massage, hair and makeup. There’s our Lighthouse Camp and Recreation Hall to keep younger guests just as entertained as well as their parents. We have two heated swimming pools – both freshwater and saltwater – and both bicycles and kayaks, free for guest use. And oh yes, to answer an often-asked question from brides and grooms about to add a new best friend to their lifestyle: we happily welcome dogs.
Spruce Point Inn is just unforgettable, it has such romance and power of place about it. One bride from New York was getting lots of flack for the distance her guests would have to drive, until her perfect wedding – and learning that several of those guests now come back to Spruce Point Inn every year for their vacations.
The Knot rates Spruce Point Inn as one of their five recommended destination wedding locations in the State of Maine. They called it “Retro Modern… [an] idyllic location … [with] luxury facilities.” Guest comments about weddings, anniversary celebrations and vow renewal ceremonies at the Inn paint a truly romantic picture of couples making memories to last. Watching a YouTube video of a bride and groom’s first dance (clearly well-rehearsed) on the parquet dance floor in the Inn’s Linekin Bay Room, it is clear that Spruce Point Inn is the place where a Maine oceanside resort wedding is made — of long summer evenings, romantic walks along the shore and misty mornings in the spruces giving way to sun-drenched afternoons under shady market umbrellas. Martha Stewart Living said, “We wanted to share the incredible views, the ocean, the incredible beauty that never changes.”
L&L: Do you have a range of packages couples choose from when planning their wedding at Spruce Point or is each wedding custom?
SPRUCE: At Spruce Point Inn we believe in creating unique wedding events. We do not have set packages so we can encourage couples to be creative – and to not be afraid to ask for something they’ve always wanted at their wedding.
L&L: Is your wedding season only during the warmer months or are you open year around?
SPRUCE: Spruce Point Inn is open from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day. While the summer months are our peak wedding season, the Indian Summer days of September and October – when the sun and the ocean are still warm and the leaves have started to turn against those brilliantly blue skies – have made for some of the most beautiful weddings we can remember. But it’s not about the weather – it’s about a setting that lets you focus completely on the ones you love, to celebrate the most amazing night of your life.
L&L: How many wedding guests can you accommodate? How many overnight guests can you accommodate?
SPRUCE: Facilities at Spruce Point Inn can accommodate gatherings of groups ranging from 14 to 400 people. The Inn’s professional event planners are known nationally for their ability to coordinate the most intimate and secure retreats, large family gatherings and out of this world seaside weddings that feature a mix of off-site activities (accessible via the Inn’s shuttle and waterborne launch) and creative use of the Inn’s 56 acre landscaped grounds put to best advantage.
We have several different options, in terms of spaces, for wedding ceremonies and receptions. All the details are listed in the chart below, but instead of head-counts, we encourage people to think of the experience they want to create. Is there a moment when you want to have a small, intimate group gather around the fire pit? Or a grand entrance you’ve dreamed about? Maybe you want to arrive in a carriage or leave on a boat? We can help you work those experiences into logistics that make sense for everyone – and create magical wedding memories.
With over 5,000 square feet of spectacular oceanfront wedding space, including tented decks, the Inn offers one of the most distinctive destination wedding venues in all of New England for exclusive events. The wedding party might arrive at the ceremony aboard an antique yacht. The historic Main Inn might be the venue for the ceremony while the tented waterfront or cathedral ceiling ballroom (with the illuminated Maine woods as a backdrop) provides romantic memories for the reception.
The Inn’s wedding facilities include:
The Pemaquid, a 4,500 square foot state-of-the-art facility, with adjacent 4,000 square-foot tented courtyard and can accommodate up to 280 guests. The upper level allows for a dramatic entry by the bride to her reception.
The Linekin Bay, covering 2,100 square feet, features cathedral ceilings and is decorated in an elegant New England style. Fully air-conditioned and ADA accessible, the room is adjacent to a beautifully landscaped and tented courtyard that offers an alternative space for the ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner or bridal brunch.
The Oceanfront Deck offers a sweeping view of the ocean and can be used as an open-air deck or with its heated custom-built tent. The 3,200-square-foot deck features a bandstand with a gazebo facing the water and its own cooking facility, ideal for lobster bakes or al fresco dining.
The Oceanside Pool Deck offers direct access to the Inn’s dock. The deck is a tentable space that can accommodate banquets of up to 75 guests and receptions for groups of up to 150.
In terms of guestrooms, Spruce Point Inn has a variety of overnight accommodations. We have 56 modern rooms in eight lodges, 16 classic cottages and rooms, 9 historic inn rooms and 4 townhomes.
L&L: What is the most memorable wedding you have hosted and why?
SPRUCE: One truly amazing wedding at Spruce Point Inn was an international affair. The bride and her family were from Maine, but she had moved to Switzerland for her banking career, gotten married there and had twins and wanted to create the perfect wedding ‘at home’ when her twins were 6 months old, and she had time to focus on the details. That wedding was amazing because of the Inn’s power to create memories in this little village of Boothbay Harbor for a couple with an international life. Guests came from France, Germany, Italy and the Swiss Alps. The bride created a micro seating chart so that people with the same language and culture, family and friends sat together. Every wedding is about servicing needs, but in this case, wining and dining our guests at this level was extraordinary – all about the food with matching wine for each course and about savoring every bite. Then they had a family of musicians from Switzerland who sang German folk songs. But the best part was giving the bride – an international banker – the chance to enjoy her own wedding as a bride and not a planner.
Perhaps the best example of how couples are viscerally affected by the Inn, how it touches each person in its way, is a bride who is getting married here in 2012. We were touring the property on the site and the bride stopped in her tracks and said “This smells like the summers I remember as a child in Maine! The pine and cedar, the fireplaces in the cottages: I’m having flashbacks from my childhood of our house on the lake.” We talked for a couple of hours and fifteen minutes after she left, I got a call from her Dad. He said, “I’m sending you a deposit for my baby’s wedding. She just called me and said, ‘Daddy, this is it’ and I thought about her siblings and the house we had in Maine and I realized she’s coming home to get married.”
L&L: What “must-see” places and eateries do you suggest folks from out of town check out while visiting coastal Maine?
SPRUCE: Because we live in Boothbay Harbor year-round, we know and appreciate the talents of all our neighbors and businesses on the Mid-Coast. We’re just now working with the incredible Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on a retreat for their Board members, so the gardens are top of mind at the moment (and what’s more romantic than a garden? This site is like a mini-wedding – the Children’s Garden is the flower girl, the Butterfly Garden is the bride and her attendants and the edible garden is Chef Stiles inspiration for the reception! On land, we also recommend Boothbay Railway Village and Auto Museum – it’s a wonderful place to take multiple generations. Where grandparents can introduce toddlers to a steam train ride (Maine’s only one!), or a classic car that brings back happy family reminiscences. Of course, the ocean is the reason you’re in Maine – so we always recommend some time on the water – a whale watch, or the cruise over to Burnt Island Lighthouse. Any excuse to get out into that sea breeze!
When it comes to dining suggestions for guests outside of events you plan for the wedding, the Inn itself has three restaurants: 88, the dining room in the Main Inn, featuring Maine coast cuisine; Bogie’s casual bistro and lounge (with flat screen tv, usually tuned to the game) and our new oceanfront café – Deck – opening for lunch each day. There are many places in Boothbay Harbor we recommend and are happy to provide transportation either in our van or on our new launch, “Brightline.”
L&L: Thank you for giving us an inside peek into the Spruce Point Inn. If readers want to get in touch with you to inquire about your availability, what is the best way for them to reach you?
SPRUCE: Please call Cherie Scott x627 or Cindy Mastrella x628 at the Inn, 207-633-4152
In addition to the photographs and descriptions here, go to our website, www.sprucepointinn.com to see what some of our past Spruce Point Inn brides have chosen for their weddings. The Weddings pages have the details: www.sprucepointinn.com/weddings where you’ll also find links to YouTube film of real-life weddings at Spruce Point Inn.
Because we love to help create individualistic weddings that incorporate as much of our 56 acre property and surrounding venues as the couple wants, we encourage people to call us directly and start that personalized conversation.