CAMDEN — Though the Captain Swift Inn has been a piece of Camden’s history since 1810, originally as a private residence, it was only until Carolyn and Rick Bentzinger’s recent acquisition that the inn received national recognition.
The Bentzingers fell in love with Camden their first time driving through the town and knew the property, which will be open year-round, was perfect for them when they saw the online advertisement.
“We took a calculated risk in buying a property that was closed (and remained closed) for a total of 14 months, not knowing what to expect in terms of business,” Carolyn Bentzinger said. “But we've been so pleased with the response from travelers, guests and the community. We're pleased to be able to employ local residents, partner with local businesses, and support community events.”
When the Bentzingers purchased the inn in May 2018, the property had been bank-owned and non-operational for eight months, in need of significant updates and renovations.
“It was important for us to enhance this lovely and inviting structure with a complete, yet mindful, renovation that truly balanced the old with the new,” said Carolyn Bentzinger. “So, with our number one goal of guest satisfaction and authentic hospitality in mind, we crafted the renovation plan. Our desire was to create a property that felt welcoming to guests, with several common areas both inside and out, for them to enjoy. We wanted to provide luxury accommodations, amenities and products that complimented the 1810 structure, topped off with unmatched service.”
The renovation process has, thus far, taken 15 months and remains ongoing. It has been no easy task and attention to detail is a high priority for the Bentzingers.
“There was nothing done during our renovations that was not intentional and not carefully considered,” Carolyn Bentzinger said.
During the renovation, every wall and corner of the structure and property was touched.
The exterior saw the replacement of damaged original clapboards with materials fitting for the period, in addition to the scraping, sanding, repairing and painting of the building’s entire exterior. The original windows were also repaired and reglazed.
With landscaping, trees and over-grown vegetation was removed, making way for the installation of a large dining deck leading to a stone patio with a fire pit and the addition of exterior sitting decks. New landscape beds and a lawn consistent with the period of the home were installed, while the original shutters stored in the barn were hauled out, repaired, sanded, painted and hung.
The inn has been adorned with window flower boxes, a colonial picket fence, new stone walkways and natural stone stairs guiding visitors to the inn’s entrances.
Inside, wallpaper was removed and walls restored, though the Bentzingers did not re-skim the walls as they wanted the original lath and plaster wall’s imperfections to be visible.
The electrical system, fire and security system and interior lighting was upgraded, while the size and layout of three rooms were altered.
Both chimneys in the inn were repaired, three fireplaces were added and two fireplaces were repaired, while new gas sets were installed to another five fireplaces.
The interior received new paint, a chair rail and wainscoting to match were added, while the floors saw the removal of paint and a refinishing. The staircase carpet was replaced and all 11 bathrooms were updated to include tile floors and tile showers, the latter which were outfitted with rainfall heads and massage body sprays.
Heating and cooling splits were installed in each room, thus replacing window air conditioning units and providing guests with complete control of their room’s temperature.
Ceiling paddle fans were installed in each guestroom, while the dining room was winterized. The inn’s kitchen was updated to include new appliances, increased lightning, new flooring, granite counter tops and backsplash.
Door locks were changed and a keyless entry system integrated.
The footprint of the home was extended, allowing for a new interior staircase to the basement, which provides access for storage and laundry facilities.
From a interior design perspective, the inn is now filled with new furnishings including antiques, bedding, linens and window treatments.
All that remains is the installation of new black top, coming this fall, and a new roof.
Though, as Carolyn Bentzinger noted, the work never ends when owning a historic home.
In the next year, the Bentzingers plan to broaden their community relationships and promote Camden as a perfect destination for visitors. As part of their support for the community, the inn’s Facebook and Instagram pages routinely showcase the area’s scenery and local businesses.
Following the inn’s reopening in November 2018 and as a result of the inn’s extensive renovations and upgrades, the Bentzingers announced in July the inn was awarded a four-diamond rating award from the American Automobile Association, better known as AAA.
The award is the highest rating an inn or bed and breakfast can receive and only 6.3 percent of the more than 27,000 establishments rated by the association receive four diamonds.
The Captain Swift Inn is one of four inns in Camden with the four-diamond rating, a July press release said.
AAA judges visit unannounced every year to assess service and amenities during a minimum one hour visit. The AAA program is designed to use professional travel experts and member-driven criteria to quantify and recommend accommodations in the most desired travel destinations, the press release stated.
In addition to being a AAA four-diamond property, the Inn is also a Select Registry member and a member of HospitalityMaine.
“We were thrilled to learn that our Inn was awarded the AAA Four Diamond rating,” said Carolyn Bentzinger, noting the award is even more special knowing less than 10 percent of the evaluated establishments receive the recognition. “Receiving this award, and also being a top rated Select Registry property, validated the time, energy and financial outlay of our renovation.”
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