About the Belfry Inn & Bistro
The Belfry Inn compound consists of 4 historic buildings located on Cape Cod’s well known
Jarves Street, in the center of Sandwich Village.
The Painted Lady features whimsical guest rooms and the chic and lively Next Door Burger Bar. The Abbey is a converted 1901 church that has been converted into Cape Cod’s highest rated and most romantic fine dining restaurant and Inn.
The historic 1827 Village Inn delivers comfort with “Cape cottage” style guest rooms.
The Seal is a converted art gallery featuring “coastally inspired” tapas (no guest rooms).
We invite you to peruse each building’s history for a step back in time…
For over thirty years, The Painted Lady (a term used for ornate Victorian era homes painted in 5 – 7 colors) languished along tree-shaded Jarves St., nestled in Sandwich Village. The forlorn, ramshackle relic was 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 historical 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 Inn and Bistro, a landmark hostelry and dining establishment.
Purchased from the Arch Diocese of Fall River in 1993, The Belfry Inn & Bistro opened for its first guests on December 5, 1995. The Bistro was located on the first floor of what is now The Painted Lady, with its small bar and three intimate dining rooms it featured 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 consisting of three rooms for Wilson and his two sons, Christopher and Alexander.
In 1998, Wilson completed the purchase of the former church, Corpus Christi. During 1999 the Bistro was moved from its 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 Ashley floral style to the more colorful “summery” crisp palettes of the Painted Lady Café below.
In 2011, the Painted Lady was again transformed with the two first floor dining rooms being made into two new guest rooms to accommodate tourist demand. The Café merged with the Bistro located at the Abbey to offer lunch and a lighter fare menu. In April of 2013, the bar in the Painted Lady reopened under the name CW’s Cocktail and Wine Bar in honor and memory of innkeeper’s Christopher Wilson’s father, Dr. Clifford Wilson. CW’s fresh, contemporary décor offers a cozy interlude serving wine flights, cocktails and a tapas menu. Front porch seating is also available.
The Abbey was built in 1901 and is the third Catholic Church in Sandwich. The first was located a block down on Jarves Street, now MacDonald’s Gift Emporium. The second was located on Church Street near the glass factory. In the late 1800’s, the Abbey was badly damaged in a storm and the property location on Jarves Street was purchased. On July 5, 1901 the new Corpus Christi church was consecrated.
The interior of the Abbey was transformed from an open space with an aisle leading to an altar, with sixteen sets of pews on each side, to an intimate dining space. A second floor was added providing space for four guestrooms and additions on the two rear roofs provided two additional rooms. The Abbey is an architectural and aesthetic tour de force. This grand space has been segregated ingeniously and imaginatively into dining and lodging spaces. Guests and dining patrons enter into a soaring space, warmly lit with retrofitted ecclesiastical lighting, handsomely accented by ground level amber stained glass windows. The grand fireplace, lit on cooler evenings, is the focal point of the main dining room.
The Abbey guestrooms feature king beds with spa tubs, and fireplaces. The Wednesday room, in particular, features a rainfall shower with enclosed spa therapy unit called “The Verdana” that creates a space of relaxation and respite. All rooms have decks that were cut into the existing roof to create privacy. The color palettes of each room reflect the biblical story of creation and are named for the six days of the week: Monday through Saturday. The Sunday door leads to the rear parking lot as biblical lore indicates God “rested” on that day.
Below, Bistro tables are set with crisp white linen and the seating is of black leather and large upholstered chairs. Wilson salvaged nearly every piece of architectural remnants and put them to their highest and best uses. The Bistro bar’s wine ‘cellar’ is the one-time confessional. Former pews have many new functions; some became part of the bar construction, others became wall paneling, while the others are headboards for the guest beds.
The oak paneling was saved and repositioned. For instance, the choir loft railing was moved to the walkway leading from the front to the rear of the building. The original organ was donated to the Episcopal Church in New Londonderry, New Hampshire. The stain glass window depicting Jesus, located above the sanctuary was gifted to the Corpus Christi church in East Sandwich. The remaining stained glass windows are in their original placement with the exception of Michael the Archangel, now in the Saturday room, and Gabriel, now in the Friday room.
Our third property was purchased in the summer of 2003. Built in 1827, this federal style home was the original residence of Naaman Dillingham , a descendant of Thornton Burgess. Through the years the home was a boarding house as well as offices for the company that constructed the Cape Cod Canal. The former private residence was renovated in 1985 to a bed and breakfast, and is now part of the Belfry Inn. It has seven guest rooms that are decorated in a floral theme with crisp white linens and “Cape Cod Cottage” style beds and furniture. The rooms set a simpler tone than the other rooms at the Belfry. Guests enjoy sitting under the veranda and quiet garden areas.
“The Best of Cape Cod.”
Travel + Leisure
“Raves and Reviews”
Featured property in
THE BEST OF CAPE COD ~ “Where to Stay”.
Makes use of its dramatic space with elaborate stained glass… intricate gothic woodwork.”
“Historic & magical setting.”
“Impeccable customer service.”
‘Has a warm and inviting New England village feel.”
“Great location…great service.”
“A lovely place to stay in Sandwich.”
“(Innkeeper) Wilson has done a remarkable job adapting this former church into lodging.”
“Stay this side of Heaven!”
National Geographic’s “Stay List” property.
“A former church, rectory & Queen Anne: 3 parts charm!”
“A one-of-a-kind experience.”
Authentic & unique accommodations.”
“…We stood gaping slack-jawed at the stained glass window that flooded the room with prismatic light…”
“Unparalleled venue with an incomparable guest experience.”
“The perfection of the chef’s cuisine…flawless service.”
Read our “5 STAR” reviews on Google!
“Certainly, a more perfect restaurant atmosphere is hard to come by on Cape Cod.”
“You’ll thank the Lord the owners of the Belfry ‘saw the light’ and created this romantic inn & Bistro…”
Belfry Inn: Successful reinventions during the Covid-19 pandemic, featured property.
“Set like a jewel in the heart of Sandwich Village, The Belfry Inn & Bistro beam its warm welcome…an architectural masterpiece.” 4.7 stars
“A truly all-encompassing dining experience you won’t soon forget.”
In 1992, when Christopher Wilson, former financial planner/trust banker and innkeeper wannabe, first spotted the ramshackle, tumbledown 1872 rectory on Jarves Street; his vision was immediate. With a lot of hard work, steadfast determination and the support of Chris’ two young sons, Christopher (then 11) and Alexander (then 5), and perhaps a little “help from above”, the original Abbey, quickly became known as Cape Cod’s most intimate bistro and inn, and continues to be one of the highest rated properties in New England. By 2003 the Belfry property had expanded to four historic buildings, including a former Methodist church and Doll Museum, which Chris converted into a private residence.
As The Belfry approaches its 25th anniversary, Chris and his staff continue to offer world class hospitality year round. In 2021, as the Covid-19 scare finally started to calm, the addition of The Seal, an opulent jewel of an eatery and bar, housed within an art gallery, added even more relaxed elegance to the center of historic Sandwich Village. Chris still makes breakfast daily at the inn, continues to maintain the property, and still enjoys being the “hands-on” general manager of the entire operation. As the Belfry has grown in size, so has its economic impact on Cape Cod, increasing its original staff of three to now seasonally employing over twenty five local hospitality professionals.