Home Away from Home
Brewster’s Candleberry Inn Offers ‘Enlightening’ Award-Winning Experiences for Guests
When guests exit bustling Route 6A and pull into the driveway of Brewster’s Candleberry Inn, they’re not only escaping the frenetic–often frantic–pace of 21st-century life, they’re entering the personal, real-life “canvas” of innkeepers Angelo Ferraro and Marco DiDomizio.
From the meticulously manicured privet hedges that front the historic home to the various gardens that adorn the property, visitors couldn’t be blamed if they felt like they’ve stumbled into a painting.
One of the innkeepers’ most recent landscaping experiments was to tear out – and replace – the old garden that separates the property’s front and back lawns. Like landscape “painters,” the partners planted “layers” of blue-purple Siberian iris, pink-purple rhododendron, blue and white hydrangeas and electric-yellow goldenrod against a “canvas” of evergreen Italian cypress.
“It really looks like a Monet painting,” notes Ferraro. “We purposely planted this combination of flowers, knowing that they would sing together in some way. It’s really exceeded our expectations this year.”
The same could be said for a stay at the Candleberry Inn, according to the inn’s guests, who helped propel Candleberry to the top of Tripadvisor’s “Travelers’ Choice” ratings for the world’s top bed and breakfasts and inns in 2021. Guest reviews placed the Candleberry Inn as the number three inn in the U.S. and number eight globally.
“I spent a lot of time on the Cape as a child, and driving down 6A is a sentimental journey for me,” says retired nurse and educator Kathie Tritone, who has been staying at the inn – multiple times a year – for the past eight years. “My husband, Jim, always drives, and I get to enjoy the view. We pull into the driveway, past the perfectly manicured privet hedges, and the home and yard are so beautiful every time we visit.
“When we finally realized we weren’t going to have a Cape Cod home of our own, we wanted to find a place where we could go and put all our cares away,” says Tritone. “We walk in the door [at the Candleberry Inn], and it’s all peace and tranquility. It’s very calming. It feels like our second home.”
The “Rational” Road to Brewster
Growing up in the shadow of Manhattan, Ferraro and DiDomizio are no strangers to New York City’s long hours and “always-on” approach to work and career. A graduate of Iona College, DiDomizio is a CPA who was a global financial and operations director for an ad agency in New York City, while Ferraro is a registered architect who most recently specialized in classical design and renovation for wealthy residential clients.
As their careers wore on, though, the partners realized that they had a “next chapter” to their story. Given their combined business and artistic acumen, and their passion for hospitality, the pair began to toy with the idea of innkeeping.
“We both liked what we were doing, and we were successful,” says DiDomizio. “But we also knew that we wanted to do something else. We didn’t see ourselves doing New York City jobs for another five to 10 years, so the question of ‘what’s next’ kept coming up for years.”
During their careers, the partners had become very familiar with Cape Cod, enjoying frequent getaways to the region’s many B&Bs and inns. “We specifically liked to stay in old Victorians to experience the scale and charm of the era and to explore their quirky details,” notes DiDomizio. “Soon, we started to notice how the inns were being run and thought, ‘We might be able to do this.’”
They decided to view a few properties on the Cape, but were “scared away” for one reason or another. Stepping back, Ferraro and DiDomizio re-grouped and decided to join the National Association of Innkeepers as “aspiring innkeepers.”
One weekend, they took part in an intensive “Innkeeping from the Innside” seminar that proved transformative for both. In addition to learning the basics of running an inn, they learned how to value a property, including real estate, home contents and business valuation.
The seminar’s instructor, Carol Edmondson, was also a realtor on Cape Cod with Cape Cod Village Realty, so Ferraro and DiDomizio began working with her to scout potential Cape properties. After six months of searching, the pair found the Candleberry Inn in Fall 2015.
“We wanted a quaint, small-scale colonial building,” says Ferraro. “We knew [the Candleberry Inn] had been operating as an inn since the 1940s, originally named The Welcome House. While the property had several interventions over the years, we saw its potential based on the building’s layout, scale and location. The Candleberry Inn has a rational floor plan, with a logical hierarchy and progression of spaces, which are all essential points to the architect. The individual rooms enjoy much natural light through the original six-over-six hand-blown glass windows. The rooms are well-scaled and balanced and we knew we could create an overall relaxing experience for our guests.”
Enlightened Architecture and Design
The 18th-century Enlightenment’s focus on reason not only influenced the philosophy, science and politics of the era, but it also had a major impact on architecture. During this “Age of Reason” in Europe, part of a young man’s education was taking “The Grand Tour” of the continent, which included excursions to the ancient ruins of Greece and Rome.
The rediscovery of this classical architecture – both rational and balanced – gave birth to the Georgian and Federal styles of architecture. Known for their clean, classical lines and balanced proportions, these closely related styles are the physical embodiment of rationality.
Although the front portion of the Candleberry Inn’s Main House is often referred to as Georgian, it more closely resembles its cousin, the Federal style, which was common throughout the northern English colonies of North America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
“The Candleberry Inn’s detailing is more restrained than the more robust lines of the Georgian style, so I consider the inn to be Federal style,” says Ferraro.
Located at 1882 Main Street, the inn and its buildings are part of the Brewster Old King’s Highway Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The front of the Main House was built by Massachusetts State Senator George Copeland, Esq., around 1800. His wife, Sarah, was a teacher, and in the 1820s ran the Dame’s School for Boys in the front parlor rooms, which are now the Breezing Up and Copeland guest rooms. Later in the 1800s, Sea Captain Francis Foster was also an owner prior to losing his life at sea. The Highlands, Beach Rose and Cricket rooms round out the guest facilities in the Copeland section of the home.
The oldest part of the inn’s Main House – where the dining room and Seacroft Suite are located – was built sometime between 1780 and 1790, and is believed to have originally been a farmhouse.
In the Main House, four of the six guest rooms offer fireplaces. All Main House rooms feature poster beds and are “outfitted in the traditional décor of the time,” according to DiDomizio. All guest accommodations have private bathrooms, and the larger rooms boast luxurious soaking tubs.
With Ferraro providing design guidance this past off-season, the pair gutted and upgraded the inn’s 10 bathrooms, including their private suite’s bath. The contractor with whom they worked was Dana Greene, of Rustic Elegance, who custom built all of the vanities that were designed by Ferraro. The inn’s bathrooms offer guests plush Turkish towels, robes and slippers, as well as Malin + Goetz natural skin and bath products.
In six years of ownership, DiDomizio and Ferraro have renovated and/or redecorated almost every space in the inn. A new HVAC/central air conditioning system throughout the inn eliminated the need for window cooling units. They purchased new beds, reupholstered the furniture, torn out wall-to-wall carpeting and restored the flooring, installed wide-planked floorboards where needed, and introduced HD TVs, cellphone-charging stations and high-speed Wi-Fi.
The bedrooms also offer 600-thread count cotton sheets, as well as Matouk blankets, coverlets and duvets. “We’ve really scaled up to give our guests a more luxurious experience in their rooms and bathrooms,” said DiDomizio.
The Carriage House, which is separate from the Main House, contains three guest accomodations – the Garden Suite, Seabreeze and Treetops rooms. Prior to a renovation in the early 1990s, the building served as a carriage house, then a garage, and at one point even housed a dentist office. Where the Carriage House is technically not part of the Main House, this structure would have been modest in its design. DiDomizio and Ferraro built upon this with a more beach cottage inspired flavor.
“Some guests seek to be transported back in time and will choose the Main House rooms, while others prefer the more casual cottage feel and select the Carriage House rooms. And then there are still other guests who over multiple stays enjoy working their way into every room for the complete Candleberry Inn experince! We love them all!”
To learn more about the Candleberry Inn and its delectable breakfasts, visit www.candleberryinn.com.
Joe O’Shea is a contributing writer for Cape Cod LIfe Publications.
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