The Inn at Sawmill Farm - West Dover, Vermont
-Article by: Norm Goldman
-Painting by: Lily Azerad-Goldman
Converting an 18th century barn and its outbuildings into a first class romantic inn,
while keeping the original hand- hewn posts and weathered boards intact is no easy task.
But that is precisely the miraculous feat Rodney Williams and his wife Ione performed when they moved from South
New Jersey to West Dover Vermont in 1967, and set up The
Inn At Sawmill Farm located in the southern rural Vermont town of West Dover.
Rodney at the time was a well- known architect having designed the historic Smithville Village in Smithville New Jersey. Consequently, he had the necessary expertise to
understand the challenge and rewards associated with preserving and renovating old structures. Ione, the second
member of the original team, is a designer by profession, and for many years she had been extremely successful
in operating her own firm.
Together, the combined talents of this enterprising couple were just the right formula to pull this off. The result
of which is a perfectly positioned Relais & Chateaux inn attracting couples that seek privacy and at the same
time the opportunity to explore scenic back roads, historic towns, picturesque villages, and cultural venues.
When I posed the question to their son Brill, who together with his sister Bobbie Dee Molitor have pretty much
taken over from their parents- "Were your parents ever afraid that their dreams would end up in disaster and
no one would show up?" He explained to me that their original plan was to build something very simple, basic
and to keep it as humble as possible. In fact, initially, their idea was to only build a summer home.
They had always loved this area of Vermont as they passed many a winter skiing on the nearby ski hills.
Before they knew it, an inn was opened in the late 1960s' and their daily tariff was $48. This included the
meals his mother, Ione, would prepare. You did not have a choice of menu, and whatever his mother decided to prepare
on a particular day is what you were stuck with.
Brill indicated that there was no need to worry about Ione's cooking, it was always consistently good, and he owes
a great deal of his knowledge to his mother's culinary skills.
We can certainly vouch for Brill's talents as a chef. In fact, when we visited the Inn At Sawmill Farm it had just
re-opened for its summer and fall season, and the dining room was filled to capacity; a good indication that we
were not the only ones who appreciated fine dining.
We had the opportunity to try his sautéed sweetbreads on a bed of fried spinach with white butter sauce,
as well as the grilled tenderloin of beef with black truffle Madeira sauce. Both were out of this world!
Brill mentioned to us that he likes to use a great deal of local ingredients as well as rabbit, partridge, quail
and venison. Deserts reflect his mother's Pennsylvania Dutch Family's influence, such as the ice cream covered
with rich, hot sauce of dark chocolate, butter and walnuts.
Also joining the inn's competent team are Brill's two adorable young daughters, Letica (Lettie) and Chinon (Chi
Chi), who help out serving the guests in the inn's romantic dining room on tables adorned with fine linen, crystal,
and china. It was something to watch these two young ladies serve their beaming grandparents!
We even had Letica practice her French with us with her cute accent, as she will be off to Paris shortly.
Being a guest at The Inn At Sawmill Farm gets you an additional bonus. The opportunity to savor one or more of
the 28, 000-30,000 bottles of some of the finest wines stored in the wine cellar that is situated under the main
Brill showed us around the wine cellar that he indicated was no easy task to build, and we could well understand
why it has brought the inn a Wine Spectator Grand Award yearly since 1992. Incidentally, the tour of the wine cellar
is available for any interested guests who want to see what beckons below. You will be amazed, as we were, at the
There are twenty- one cozy guest rooms in the inn, of which ten are located in the main house and eleven in nearby
buildings ensuring an intimate romantic experience. All of these rooms reflect the spirit of Vermont living, permitting
their guests to enjoy the changing days and seasons. Exquisite room décors reflect Ione's decorating talents.
Some rooms even have
decks for relaxation during the late spring. Eleven also have fireplaces, and let me tell you that even in late
May, when we visited the inn, the heat radiating from the crackling fireplace was sheer delight! There are even
Jacuzzis and canopy beds in a few rooms.
As far as the inn's activities go, The Inn At Sawmill Farm takes a minimalist approach. The principal attractions
are the swimming pool, the trout ponds, where you can try your hand at fly fishing and even sign up for lessons
given by an Orvis approved instructor,
snowshoe, hike or cross country ski.
However, once you venture outside the inn's grounds, there is a great deal to do in the way of cultural, sporting
and other adventures.
- MORE INFORMATION
Inn At Sawmill Farm
Crosstown Road and Route 100,
West Dover, Vermont
Snow Valley Chamber Of Commerce