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The Heart of New England: Celebrating the unique character of Northern New England

Bed & Breakfast/Inn of the Month

Mother-Daughter Team Revisit a Former Vacation Spot ... and Buy It.

The Cottage Place on Squam Lake was formerly known as The Black Horse Motor Court and is located on the town line of Holderness and Ashland, New Hampshire. The property includes 140 feet of sandy beach frontage on Squam Lake (otherwise known as 'Golden Pond.')

Susan Smith Palmer and her mother Beverly Ann Smith purchased the property in October of 2002 and immediately started landscaping, painting, redecorating and  marketing the off seasons (fall, winter and spring).  There are eight cottages of various sizes including a six bedroom lodge and eight motel suites that resemble studio apartments.  All of the rentals have kitchens and fabulous view of Evans Cove.

Q&A with innkeeper, Susan Smith Palmer:

Can you tell us a little bit of the history behind the Cottage Place?

The Black Horse Motor Court was built in 1957 by Milton Graton who is also well known for constructing and renovating covered bridges throughout New England - he authored The Last of the Covered Bridges.

This property has always been family owned and operated but I believe we are the first mother and daughter team. The post card that I forwarded to you (see picture on below) pictures my mother and I on the Black Horse beach in 1966 (my mom was 30 and I was 7). This postcard was a promotional piece done while my aunt and uncle (Linda and Sam Baker) were caretakers of the property for the original owners (Gratons).

What made you interested in buying this property?

Being local and related to the caretakers we spent a lot of time on this beautiful beach.  On our first anniversary of purchasing this property and renaming it The Cottage Place on Squam Lake I contracted a local artist, Valeria Giordani, to create a water color featuring the segment of the post card that had my mom and I in it.   We had prints and cards made up from her original artwork and sell them in our little shop.

This property represents childhood dreams and family togetherness for both my mom and me.  We have a strong commitment to each other and to our families to make this property the best it can be. We enjoy servicing the public and love representing the Lakes Region as well as the White Mountains.

What kind of renovation work was required?

Upon purchasing this property, we set forth a landscaping plan that uncovered some wonderful perrennial gardens that had been buried under leaves and brush. We exchanged railroad ties with stonewalls to provide backdrops to numerous flower beds. The property is naturally beautiful with an abundance of birch trees and granite markers. We painted the cottage and motel trim from black to a very subtle cottage green. We have rebuilt all the fireplaces to ensure safety and beauty. The bathrooms in the motel suites have been updated with completely new walls and tubs. We evacuated all of the carpet in the cottages and exposed hardwood floors that we have covered with antique braided and hook rugs. Our decorating style consists of using antique furniture and vintage fabrics yielding a very country cozy cottage charm. We also installed a huge white cedar play set purchased from CedarWorks in Rockport, Me (www.cedarworks.com). This area of the property is popular for all age groups - the teens love the gazebo! The parents love the adirondack chairs surrounding the $5800.00 play area as they browse through a magazine or read an interesting book. We know here "if the kids are happy, the parents are happy". I have three wonderful children of my own Baker (6) Mackenzie (8) and Nathalie (11).

What is your favorite spot or room?

Our favorite spot on the property is our six bedroom "Lodge."  It has a huge living room with a gigantic fieldstone fireplace and has become the new home of my Dad's (Norm Smith) 10 point buck deer head which was rescued from 40 years confinement in my parents basement. He oversees the lodge in a majestic and honorable way. We placed a huge antique 14' x 18 ' hand hooked rug under a soft comfy sectional sofa which is placed right in front of the fireplace.  We are developing the bedrooms to represent all that NH living offers by using snowshoes, fishing equipment, and ski novelties for decor.  There are seven double beds and one twin bed in our lodge which attracts multigenerational families for any time of year!  It makes an awesome gathering place for anniversary or birthday parties.  We have fun decorating this lodge for the holidays!

What makes a stay at The Cottage Place unique?

We are unique because of our lakefront property which has one of the nicest beaches on Squam Lake. There are very few commercial properties left to rent on this pristine lake and we offer year-round access. We are a housekeeping establishment which means that our guests are responsible for a minimal amount of upkeep (trash removal and dishes) and there is no interruptive daily maid service. With this concept we hope our guests feel more that they have their own little "vacation home" and less like they are at a large commercial hotel. I believe that this kind of cottage colony experience is getting very rare. Our cottages offer just enough luxury to be comfortable, but a vacation here relies on family togetherness whether it be board games, outdoor fun, song singing, or activities involving the lake.

Please tell us about this area of New Hampshire.

The Lakes Region of New Hampshire (www.visitsquam.com) borders the foothills of the White Mountains so this area is wealthy in gorgeous scenery and interesting attractions for all ages.   The restaurant selection is unlimited from family to fine dining.

What are some 'can't miss' attractions?

Children and adults will be thrilled with the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center just one mile from our doors.  The day time excursions that are a must include a trip to Clark's Trading Post,  Lost River, and Whales Tale Water Park.  Of course, a tour of the 7000 acres of Squam Lake is highly recommended and Lake Winnipausaukee is only nine miles away.  There are some beautiful NH State Parks like Wellington on Newfound Lake and Ellacoya on Lake Winnipausaukee which will add great variety to your NH Lakes Region visit.

If you have visited a B&B or inn that you have loved, please let us know!  
Email Marcia Duffy at editor@theheartofnewengland.com

Hand drawn map of Central New Hampshire