The Wayside Inn Foundation maintains nine historic buildings on our property, including the famous Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Learn more about the history of our buildings below, or through our Self Guided Walking Tour. Additionally, our Gift Shop stocks several books detailing the rich history of both the Inn and the greater Wayside Inn property. During Henry Ford’s ownership of The Wayside Inn, he added substantial acreage to the original How property, eventually amassing almost 3,000 acres in the towns of Sudbury, Marlborough, and Framingham. Ford had great admiration for America’s founding fathers and the pioneer spirit –which he felt the Inn expressed -- as well as reverence for Longfellow. He was determined to buy The Wayside Inn, and acquire substantial land with it, to protect it for posterity for the public benefit. When Ford transitioned The Wayside Inn to a private nonprofit organization, all the acreage he acquired was sold off, leaving just over 100 acres and the nine buildings on the core property you find today. The Wayside Inn Foundation is proud to continue Ford’s important charge of protecting and maintaining these buildings.
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn
Nestled under great oak trees lining a quaint old stagecoach road, Longfellow's Wayside Inn sits proudly as the centerpiece of The Wayside Inn Historic District. First built in 1707 as a family home for the How family, a license for a “house of entertainment” was issued in 1716 to provide rooms, meals and spirits to travelers along the Old Boston Post Road, an important route linking Boston to points west. For over 300 years, the Inn has been providing warm hospitality to visitors from near and afar. Today, the Inn has eight traditional guest rooms, two historic guest rooms, and ten dining/function rooms to enjoy special functions or our legendary New England cuisine served daily at lunch and dinner. In addition, we maintain three period-style museum rooms (including the Longfellow parlor, inspirational setting for Longfellow’s epic work, Tales of a Wayside Inn) exhibiting historic objects pertaining to the How(e) family and life in an early American rural farming community. Visitors wishing to dine or stay overnight are encouraged to make reservations in advance.
The Martha-Mary Chapel
Located just 300 yards from the Inn and sitting majestically at the top of a grassy knoll framed by towering pine trees, the Martha-Mary Chapel was built in 1940 by Henry Ford during his ownership of The Wayside Inn property. Named after Mr. Ford’s mother and mother-in-law, the nondenominational chapel was built by young men who were part of Ford’s experimental Wayside Inn Boy’s School then located on the property, largely using wood from trees that fell during the great hurricane of 1938, and used as the school’s daily chapel. From its gilded-banner weathervane atop the stark white spire, to the elegant Waterford crystal chandelier above the classic pews, the chapel’s quintessential New England charm makes it a favorite setting for many weddings and inspiration for countless photographs and paintings. Visitors are invited to enjoy the chapel grounds, but the chapel is open only for Inn events and private functions.
The Grist Mill
This water-powered stone reproduction of an early American grist mill was built by Henry Ford as an educational facility in recognition of the importance of milling throughout history. It was built near the location of the original early-1700s How family grist mill, and ground its first cornmeal on Thanksgiving day in 1929. Used for many years by Pepperidge Farms to grind flour for their baked products, it is recognizable to this day as the inspiration for the company’s logo. Today, the mill is used for grinding grains used in our baked goods and famous muffins served in our restaurant. Sacks of whole wheat flour and whole corn meal burrstone-ground at the mill are available for sale in our open to visitors April through November, Wednesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Staffed by a trained interpreter and miller, the interior is open and grinding demonstrations are held mostly on weekends when visitor traffic is highest.
The Redstone Schoolhouse
This charming one-room school house was built in 1798 in Sterling, Massachusetts and gained fame as the likely school referenced in the famous poem Mary Had a Little Lamb, published by Sarah Josepha Hale in 1830. Purchased by Henry Ford and moved to its current location (along with its outhouse) in 1927, it was actually used by the Town of Sudbury as a public school until 1951 for grades one through four. Interesting fact: Thomas Edison, a close friend of Henry Ford, and frequent visitor to the Inn, made the first recording of a human voice in history reading this poem. The school house is open mid-May through mid-October, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 5pm, and staffed by a trained interpreter with information on schooling traditions in rural New England communities from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This building is not heated and open depending upon weather, so those planning a special visit are encouraged to call ahead.
The Gate House (Coach House)
Now referred to as the Gate House, construction of this building was completed in 1913 by then-owner Edward R. Lemon, who built the structure to house his coach and antique collection. Originally built near the Longfellow Memorial Gardens using salvaged timbers from Colonial era taverns and houses, the building was moved to its present location by Henry Ford during his ownership of the property. Today, this building is used for private residences for inn staff and as the private offices of The Wayside Inn Foundation. Closed to the visiting pubic.
The Old Barn
This is the last remaining barn that belonged to the How(e) family and is believed to have been built in the early 1800s. Its importance is supported by historical records in our archives indicating the cultivation of hay, apples, Indian corn, rye. Oats, and the raising of swine, sheep, cows, oxen and horses. Today, the stalls in the barn are used to display coaches, farming tools, and other artifacts from the Inn’s collections. The barn is also seasonally used for a flower and plant business operated by a local proprietor, and for special Inn-related functions.
The Ice House
This three-story building, built in the 1930s, served the Inn during the years of ownership by Henry Ford for storage of ice cut from the adjacent lily pond (named “Josephine’s Pond” after one of Ford’s granddaughters). Ice cut from the pond during winter months was stored in this building (protected from melting with hay) and could last well into fall months. Today, this building is used by the Inn for storage and is closed to the public.
The Cider Mill
This small structure was built by Henry Ford in 1930 to house a cider press to process apples from extensive orchards Ford had planted on the property, although there is no evidence it was ever used as such. A recent study of the building's construction method and materials suggests it may actually have been relocated to the property by Ford from a northern New England coastal town. Sadly, time has not been kind to this building. Today, it is used by the Inn for storage, and the Inn is raising money for its eventual repair or replacement through our annual Cider Fest fundraisers. Closed to the public.
The Cold Storage Cellar
This structure was built by Henry Ford for produce processing and storage. It is now used by the Inn’s maintenance staff and is closed to the public.