A Prodigal Inn & Gallery, Bethel, Maine

by Norm Goldman
Artwork by Lily Goldman

Just what possessed innkeepers Tom and Marcey White to move from Texas to Bethel, Maine in order to open a most unique inn, A Prodigal Inn & Gallery, is the question I had recently posed to this charming couple.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bethel, this tiny village is located in the western mountains of Maine 70 miles from Portland. Since its settlement in 1768, its population at approximately 2360, including the surrounding school district communities, has remained quite stable. However, during the peak seasons it swells to about 6000.

What is noteworthy about this scenic area in the heart of Western Maine is its convenient location to the popular Sunday River Ski Resort, as well as snowmobiling, hunting, tubing, snowboarding, fishing, hiking, antiquing, kayaking, canoeing, golfing, historical research, and not to forget the brilliance of the fall foliage.

Marcey indicated to me that when she and Tom moved to Maine, they were trying to find a way whereby Tom could leave the construction/carpentry field and concentrate solely on his art career. Apparently, about ten years ago Tom discovered that he had an innate artistic talent for sculpting and painting. Quite amazing is that Tom is a self taught artist--hardly having taken a lesson! Their objective was to find a property that would permit them to have an inn and at the same time a place to display Tom’s artwork.

The result was the purchasing of an 1813 historic property that Tom unbelievably single- handed renovated into a magnificent inn with an adjacent art studio. Previous to running the inn, Marcey had experience in the food and service industries and thus she was able to easily transfer her skills.

The inn’s most unusual name is patterned after the parable of the Prodigal Son and Tom’s exquisite bronze sculpture reflects its message. It is the hope of the innkeepers that guests will experience the same welcome as depicted in the sculpture and story.

Bethel Weddings

One very popular site for weddings in Bethel is The Sunday River Covered Bridge, where many couples have exchanged vows. The bridge is very close to the Prodigal Inn & Gallery.

Check out Wende Gray's Site, where you can view wedding photos celebrated in Bethel. Wende is the popular owner of Gray Marketing in Bethel.

If you are in need of a competent wedding planner, or a residential, commercial interior & floral designer, Janet C. Black, owner of "Designs," has many years of experience. Tel: 207-824-0888, Fax 207-824-0889 Email: designs@megalink.net

Related Story: Weddings in Bethel, Maine: Traditional & Non-traditional

Initially, the property had been owned by one of the founding fathers of Bethel, the Twitchell family, who had been proprietors for about 150 years. For twenty years previous to Marcey and Tom’s ownership, the inn had been billed as the first "Bed and Breakfast in Western Maine." However, it had only consisted of six rooms with one shared bath and kitchen privileges.

Today, the inn’s six rooms deserve top marks for their spaciousness and tasteful decor, each having their own private bathrooms, and some even with Jacuzzis tubs. Rooms are named after the innkeepers’ children and a grandchild. According to Marcey, she adopted the personalities of each of them to reflect their favorite colors.

Prevalent throughout the inn is its peace and calmness. We also found the rooms devoid of uniformity and exuding a great deal of warmth and elegance.

Entering the inn’s living room, we were immediately taken in by Tom’s original one-of-a kind bronze sculptures. Marcey indicated to us that guests are invited to watch this "world-class sculptor" as he goes about creating his magnificent works of art. It did not take us very long to take her up on the offer and we visited the adjacent studio that is set up in an adjacent renovated barn.

No doubt, Tom’s artistic inspiration has been enhanced by the spectacular scenery surrounding the inn with its meadows, nearby rivers and ponds, (the inn is across from the Androscoggin River), and mountains.

It is also little wonder why this inn has proven to be popular for couples celebrating intimate weddings in the gazebo located within the inn’s stunning perennial gardens. Incidentally, leading to the inn’s front door are private hiking trails and there is access to cross-country and snowmobile systems.

During the fall foliage and winter seasons, when the weather becomes a little nippy, there is nothing that can beat sitting in front of the inn’s wood- burning fireplace enjoying afternoon tea and delicious cookies that Marcey prepares and sets out for her guests.

When the weather permits, you can sit out in the garden Gazebo after an exhilarating walk in the woods and perhaps spot a deer or pick berries.

Marcey serves a scrumptious breakfast in the dining room with a wide assortment of goodies from juices, cereals, breads, eggs, to practically anything you palette may desire.

continued on page 2: Romantic Dining, Resources & Links

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