DEDHAM — The Lucerne Inn celebrates its bicentennial in 1814, and owners Steve and Rhonda Jones invite Mainers to visit their famous inn and learn why it’s a popular destination for people seeking a good meal, excellent accommodations, and the perfect place to hold a wedding or throw a party.
Nathan Phillips — his family lent its surname to nearby Phillips Lake — built a cabin in 1814 near a rudimentary road connecting Brewer and Ellsworth. Phillips and his family offered lodging and food for travelers that year; within a few years the Lake House also served travelers riding in the stagecoaches that linked Bangor with Ellsworth and points Down East.
Today the The Lucerne Inn is owned by the Joneses, who purchased it from Bion and Dorain Foster in 2005. The inn employs approximately 40 people who serve a worldwide clientele.
Presenting a striking pose on a hill high above Phillips Lake, the inn has 31 rooms: five in The Overlook, 14 in the original inn, and 12 in the wing added in the 1980s. Most rooms overlook the lake and the Dedham Hills.
The Joneses recently renovated all the rooms. “All the furnishings (supplied by Thomasville Furniture) are brand new,” Steve said. Custom-made draperies and matching bedspreads enhance each room’s décor. Each room will soon feature a new flat screen TV: 32-inch for a standard room and 42-inch for a suite.
A new digital heat pump that supplies heat or air conditioning has been installed in each room; additional room amenities include a gas fireplace and a heated towel bar.
Recent renovations extended to the Sun Porch (formerly the Pine Porch), “remodeled to look like it did in the 1920s,” Steve said. New energy-efficient windows were installed in the Sun Porch and the adjacent Lake Porch.
Other Lucerne Inn facilities include the main dining room, the 1814 Lounge, and the downstairs Phillips Room, which features “a covered patio set up all summer for weddings and functions,” Steve said. Both porches and the dining room are open “seven nights a week for dining. We seat from 5 until 9 [p.m.]”
The popular Sunday Brunch runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Lucerne Inn features “a progressive American menu,” Steve said. “Baked stuffed haddock is our No. 1 seller.”
The 1814 Lounge menu features such items as fig and procuttio pizza, 1814 Black and Bleu, fish and chips, an 1814 Carriage House Steak, Lucerne Inn clam chowder, bacon-wrapped scallops, and Calamari Portofino. Among the inn’s appetizers are brie encrute, fennel-crusted salmon cakes, stuffed mushrooms, the Lucerne Winter Salad, and Golden Beet Salad. Light entrees include chicken cordon bleu and pork rib-eye.
The Lucerne Inn won a Wine Spectator award in 2013. The wine list encompasses some 250 bottles; members of the wait staff are trained in suggesting the appropriate wine to serve with particular entrees.
The inn serves a wine dinner the second Thursday of each month and a beer dinner each quarter.
Many functions take place at The Lucerne Inn. “Weddings in particular drive the inn,” especially during the summer and fall, Steve said. The gazebo overlooking Phillips Lake is the prime site for outdoor weddings; the Joneses recently created a flower-lined walking path leading from the inn to the gazebo.
Engaged couples work with Jason Spivey, the director of sales and events, to plan their weddings and receptions. The inn offers “a preferred vendor list,” Steve Hones said.
The inn’s annual October bridal show “is usually attended by over 100 brides,” he said.
For receptions and other large attendance events, the Phillips Room and adjacent patio can seat 200 people. The Overlook can seat up to 120 people.
As for other functions, “we do a of lot of memorial gatherings” for people “who had a special relationship with the inn,” Steve said. Other functions range from bridal and baby showers to Christmas parties to meetings scheduled by banks, state agencies, and other organizations. The inn, which can accommodate five to 50 people for meetings, offers free wifi, LCD projectors, flip charts, and other materials useful for meetings.
Dave and Tina Gubler own the nine-hole Lueerne-in-Maine Golf Club, which was designed by Donald Ross. The course borders the inn and spreads across Route 1A, beneath which a tunnel was constructed some years ago so golfers can travel safely from one section of the course to the other.
The golf club offers reduced rates for Lucerne Inn guests; the inn offers Play and Stay packages for golfers.
The Joneses are planning several events to celebrate the inn’s bicentennial. Band leader Woody Woodman, who started playing at various Lucerne Inn functions in the 1960s, “is coming out of retirement for us and play one night,” although the date has not been determined, Steve Jones said.
“We will have bottles of win and menu specials every month priced at $18.14,” and some entrees will be named for 1814, he said.
A public open house will take place in early summer.
As part of its bicentennial, The Lucerne Inn will offer special rates from January through April:
• $79 nightly for a standard room;
• $99 nightly for a suite.
For more information about The Lucerne Inn, call 843-5123, log onto lucerneinn.com, or follow the inn on Facebook.