When a tech executive with a thirst for antiques stumbles across an 18th-century home with a storied history as a bustling tavern, she finds the perfect reclaimed venue for all things vintage…and doesn’t have to go far to toast her latest wares.
While Dana Schwartz may have a decidedly contemporary career— the digital branding executive travels to fast-paced cities like London, Oslo, and New York for work—her New Hampshire home is happily, intentionally old-fashioned. Situated just 40 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, the storied 256-year-old property, which includes a carriage house and barn, was formerly known as the Dudley Pike Tavern. (Read more about its history on page 72.) Despite its stuck-in-time appeal, it was, in fact, modern technology that first introduced Dana to the property. She was listing her own home online (antiquehomesmagazine.com) when she happened upon the 1763 Cape. Dana soon scheduled a visit and immediately fell in love, but she couldn’t make an offer. “I didn’t know when my own house would sell,” she says. “But the owner was such a special man. He told me, ‘I’ll wait for you. I just know that you’re supposed to be the next caretaker.’ ” Three weeks later, her house sold, the tavern was hers, and she went to work on a bottoms-up restoration. “Because I work in digital, there’s something grounding about the tangibility of it all—the construction and the materials.”
These days, the restored tavern is yet again the watering hole, thanks to gatherings both scheduled (seasonal clam bakes) and impromptu (last-minute happy hours). “I’ll post online: ‘The Captain says the bar is open,’ ” says Dana, referring to a sea captain portrait that stands watch over the old tavern room. (No doubt the Captain approves of the home’s nautical pieces.) Here’s how Dana pours on the charm with antiques and collectibles.
A stately portrait of a captain— a $100 score—oversees the action in what was once the tavern room. The tavern’s original bar cage— used back in stagecoach days to keep overnight guests out of the booze—now hangs from the ceiling. A circa-1700s hand-carved seagull gives another nod to the nearby coast.
Cabinet paint color: Burnished Pewter – California Paints
Redware Pottery & Crocks
Instead of upper cabinets, Dana had shelving made out of old wood for her collection of redware pottery, and the interior shelves of the kitchen island were sized specifically for her oversized crocks. While the farm sink and countertops are soapstone, the eight-foot- long island is capped with an antique tabletop. Says Dana, “I love to entertain, and it has so many marks from the parties I’ve had throughout the years. Each mark represents a wonderful time we’ve had.”
History of the Dudley Pike Tavern
Businessman Dudley Pike purchased the property in 1831 and transformed it from a private home into a successful overnight inn and tavern thanks to its prime location on the stagecoach route. (Rates were $0.50 a night and an extra $0.25 to “park” your horse for three nights.) The tavern was open for some 20 years and even earned a bit of infamy for turning away Franklin Pierce for an overnight stay 10 years before he became President of the United States. Apparently Pierce never forgot—nor forgave.
Dana takes inspiration from all sources of water—fresh and salt. Lovell Lake, for example, is just 10 miles from her home, so when she ran across the Lovell’s Market sign on an antiquing trip in Wiscasset, Maine, she saw it as…a sign. It’s usually situated in her dining room between two clay beehives from the 1800s—unless she’s hosting a clam bake, in which case, she’ll move it to the kitchen.
Dana estimates she has about 40 boards for cheese and charcuterie. She’s drawn to lighter, worn woods and muted charcoal grays and soft turquoise blue boards— another nod to the water. Sometimes lucky guests even get to leave with a board of their very own. “I’ve been good at giving some things away,” she says. “If someone loves it, I want to send them home with it.”
Dana calls herself a “digital-everything girl,” and that comes in handy when she’s snatching up bargain baskets that are in disrepair. She taught herself how to fix them thanks to online video tutorials. The buttery-cabinet-inspired shelving in the mudroom was built based on historical drawings that she had carried around for years.
Fireplace paint color: Andover Cream – California Paints; Floor paint color: Wooley Thyme – California Paints
In the Whale Room, seascapes, coral, shells, and yes, many, many whales float among land- lubber fare like a slipcovered sofa, antique rugs, and 18th- and 19th-century pieces. The reproduction “Sandwich” chair (angelhousedesign.com) is the hottest seat in the house—and not just because of its fireside location. “They were from a time when people didn’t have heat. It has overlays on the sides for draping a blanket around you,” says Dana. “It looks dainty, but men will not get out of that chair when they come over.”