For over thirty years, The ‘Painted Lady’ (a term used for the Victorian homes painted in five to seven colors) languished along tree-shaded Jarves Street-forlorn, tumbledown, a relic, a faded beauty. Many believed she was past her prime. “Awfully sad,” villagers and visitors mumbled, shaking their heads, as they ambled by. Wilson’s foresight, architectural vision and sensitivity to the town’s past revitalized what might, by now, have been a mere memory. The eyesore of an old rectory evolved into the first of three buildings compromising The Belfry Inne and Bistro, a landmark hostelry and dining establishment.
In December 5, 1995, The Belfry Inne & Bistro opened for its first guests. The Bistro was located on the first floor of what is now The Painted Lady, with its small fireplace bar and three intimate dining rooms it served a pre fixe dinner menu. Tented weddings were held in the rear garden area. Nine guest lodging suites were created upstairs, in addition to the owner’s quarters of three bedrooms for Wilson and his two sons, Christopher and Alexander.
In 1998 Wilson purchased the former church. During 1999 the Bistro was moved from the original location to the Abbey. In order to distinguish the two buildings for its lodging guests, the rectory became known as the Drew House. During the next several years the former dining rooms at the Drew House went through a transformation, first being utilized as common areas, then as two additional guest suites.
Then, in 2005, with the creation of the Painted Lady Café, the interior was completely remodeled to reflect the whimsical and eclectic dining menu. During 2006 all the guestrooms were transformed from the Laura Ashleyesque style to more colorful “summery” crisp feelings of the Painted Lady Café below. The dominant green color scheme of the late 1980’s was replaced with burgundy, lavender, red, yellow and pale green palettes.
In 2011 the Painted Lady was again transformed with the two first floor dining rooms being made into two new guest rooms. The Café was merged with the bistro to offer lunch and a lighter fare menu. The Painted lady bar and dining area is now reserved for only for guests and private parties for groups less than thirty.