The historic Whitehall Inn in Camden is being rebirthed this spring, with renovations, new amenities and a fresh restaurant. Built in 1901, the hotel has been purchased by Lark Hotels, which plans to add it to their portfolio of boutique hotels. The revamped property will go by the slightly shortened name of Whitehall when it reopens in July 2015.
Newburyport, Massachusetts-based hotel development group Lark Hotels, which also owns the Pomegranate Inn in downtown Portland, the Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport and a number of properties in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, plans to give the property a modern facelift, utilizing Boston design firm Rachel Reider Interiors to re-imagine each of the inn’s 36 guest rooms and suites. As with the hotel group’s other properties, Whitehall will combine modern amenities with historic locations.
Whitehall is located just outside downtown Camden, at 52 High St., less than half a mile from the harbor, off busy Route 1. The inn boasts a wrap-around porch and extensive common areas. Lark Hotels will add an outdoor fire pit and shuffleboard court. Reider plans to feature prominently the work of local Maine artists.
Anchoring the property will be a new restaurant, called Pig and Poet. The restaurant will be developed by acclaimed chef Sam Talbot, who is best known as a semi-finalist on season two of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” on which he was voted the fan favorite by viewers. He was also featured in People Magazine’s 2012 “Sexiest Men Alive” list. Talbot was born with juvenile diabetes and wrote a cookbook, “The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries,” published in 2011, reflecting his experiences cooking to accommodate his condition.
One of the New York City restaurants at which he was executive chef, the Imperial No. Nine, was Michelin Guide recommended. The Montauk, New York restaurant The Surf Lodge, at which he also was executive chef, was named one of the 20 sexiest dining destinations in the world by the Travel Channel.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors, and having a real connection to the food that comes out of my kitchen,” Talbot said in an email. “It’s become a bit of a cliche to say that my food is farm-to-fork, but that’s truly what it will be. … I have always been drawn to the water and waterfront towns and I’m excited to join the amazing food movement going on in the midcoast, Portland and throughout Maine.”
Talbot plans to shine a spotlight on local ingredients, including items from the many farms that populate the midcoast. The Pig and Poet will feature a raw bar, house-made charcuterie, roast pork dishes, lobster rolls, chowders and Talbot’s signature blueberry and sweet corn cobbler. The “poet” in the name is a nod to the chef’s role in the creative process, as well as a nod to Edna St. Vincent Millay, the Camden poet who, at age 19, recited aloud her famous poem “Renascence” at the Whitehall Inn for the first time in 1912.
Whitehall is slated to open in May 2015. Summer prices will range from $160 for a double room on a weeknight to $489 for the opulent Lark Suite on a weekend. A sample menu for Pig and Poet will be released in 2015.