The Wayside Inn Foundation
September 3, 2019
The Wayside Inn of Sudbury, MA, announced today it is adopting a new name of “The Wayside Inn Foundation” as part of a broader set of initiatives to fortify its identity as not just a landmark historic inn, but a nonprofit organization entrusted with the preservation of over 100 acres and 9 historic buildings, including its crown jewel, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. “As the result of a grant from the Sudbury Foundation last year, we worked closely with a consultant to develop a new strategic plan, a process that required us to do some significant soul searching to understand how we are perceived with respect to our identity and mission,” said Gary Christelis, President of the Board of Trustees of The Wayside Inn, an all-volunteer board of 10 area residents. “It was clear that most people, including many of our guests, did not realize two critical facts -- that we are a nonprofit organization, and that The Wayside Inn organization is much more than just the Wayside Inn restaurant and event venue. Our mission is so much broader, and our name needs to communicate that,” he said. Henry Ford, the American industrialist, purchased the Inn in 1923, along with almost 3,000 acres in Framingham, Marlborough and Sudbury as part of his vision of establishing a “living colonial museum village.” In 1944, before Ford died, the Inn, as well as other buildings on the site (which include the Martha Mary chapel, the Grist Mill, and the Redstone Schoolhouse), along with several hundred acres, were transferred to the nonprofit organization to preserve the site for posterity, but also to promote scientific, educational and charitable activities. In addition to the new name, the board also recently approved a revised mission statement for the organization to emphasize its mission “to promote early American humanities and culture through hospitality, lodging, education, programming, and events.” “Until now, the lack of a name that communicated our nonprofit identity has proven problematic for raising awareness and support of our broad nonprofit mission,” Christelis said. “When we fundraise, it has been frustrating to hear people, including longstanding local residents, ask ‘why is a restaurant raising money’ or ‘I thought the town owns the site.’ We want people to enjoy our beautiful buildings and property, but also know that none of our buildings or property are maintained by the town, and that they are owned, maintained and operated by a nonprofit organization, which is increasingly in need of public support.” Shervin Hawley, a Wayside Inn trustee and customer experience professional, worked with the board to develop the new brand identities (including logos and taglines) and marketing strategies that will be rolled out in the next few months to re-align public perceptions of the organization. The inn itself will continue to operate and be known as “Longfellow’s Wayside Inn” which will also get some refreshed branding as part of new broader initiatives. The building, originally known as How’s Tavern, dates back to 1716 and has been known as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn since it was made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as inspiration for his 1863 epic literary work, “Tales of a Wayside Inn.” It is believed to be the oldest operating inn in the United States. The Inn was designated a Massachusetts Landmark in 1970, and the Wayside Inn Historic District, the area around the Inn, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Steve Pickford, the 11th in a privileged line of innkeepers and general manager of the operations, is working closely with the board to implement the new branding. “We need to cover the expenses of operating a more than 300 year old inn and restaurant, conduct nonprofit programming, maintain historic objects and archives, plus care for 9 aging and historic buildings and over 100 acres, all with only our hospitality revenue and limited donor support,” Pickford said. “We want people to think of us as more than an incredible historic inn with great hospitality operations. This new branding will enable us to raise awareness of our nonprofit status and extensive property and mission.” The Wayside Inn Foundation will begin promoting its new branding and mission statement immediately. In addition, Christelis noted, the organization will be refreshing its educational and cultural programming, amplifying its development work, and increasing its visibility as a nonprofit entity in the community. “We have a lot of exciting initiatives underway to fulfill our broader mission…. stay tuned,” Christelis added.
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