KITTERY, Maine — In a quaint and whimsical lobby hangs an old print of Kittery village, situated next to various antique dishes and ceramics stored in a glass cupboard.
A magnificent sofa, the focal piece of the room, is sprawling with an emerald green bird and foliage print; a jungle-like touch. Large plants and fresh flowers grace the corners of the space, and there’s some velvet and leather, too.
In Jay and Amanda McSharry’s second lodging venture, they’ve renovated and rebranded a longtime historic inn overlooking the Piscataqua River just next to John Paul Jones Memorial Park. The Water Street Inn, formerly the Portsmouth Harbor Inn and Spa, is now modern Victorian-style, with secrets and tastes of history around each corner.
[New store helps revive historic Maine building, former yacht club space]
The three-floor brick house was built in 1879 by George Trefethen, who belonged to a prominent family in Kittery. His signature is preserved in one of the inn’s third-floor rooms with panoramic views of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Saving some of the house’s historic touches, most of the rooms also have their own gundalow plaques.
“We just love the property,” Amanda said. “We fell in love with the house and location. It was hard to resist.”
The McSharrys purchased the property in June, did some minor renovations and installed new furnishings. Amanda called the process “giving it a refresh.” This is the couple’s second inn; they opened the Sailmaker’s House in Portsmouth in 2017. Jay is a well-known Seacoast restaurateur, with numerous establishments in Portsmouth and surrounding communities.
Amanda said their lodging services “cater to the independent traveler,” someone who is looking to have a home base while they explore their surroundings. They plan to soon provide bicycles for guests, as the ride over the Memorial Bridge to Portsmouth is just a half mile, and Kittery’s Foreside neighborhood is around the corner. In both directions, coastal life and its attributes are burgeoning.
[Italian restaurant to open in former Kittery ice cream shop space]
The inn won’t have 24-hour staff, and instead, the independent theme translates to the check-in process, too. When guests book, they are given a four-digit code that allows them access into the inn and their private rooms. Amanda said the codes are constantly refreshed after each stay to assure security.
There’s currently six charming rooms, and with the renovation of an attached structure, they expect to add two more in a suite-style.
The Water Street Inn just opened to the public a few weeks ago, but they haven’t been empty. “People are finding us,” Amanda said. “I think the location is great for that.”
Inn manager Michelle Raye said guests from around New Hampshire, New York, California and even England have already stayed with them. This coming weekend, the entire inn is booked by a bachelorette party.
Amanda said the furnishings are a combination of name brand items and others she handpicked from various antique and thrift stores. The decor is a step back in time, with a modern touch.
The “deluxe king” room is covered in tiger wallpaper. When painting the main staircase foyer, Amanda said they were “looking for wall colors that look like the river.”
Because guests were such fans of the custom-created mattresses at the Sailmaker’s House, the McSharrys continued the comfort measures at their new location. Amanda and Raye snickered that one guest slept until 1 p.m. the other day.
[Kittery hotel proposal continues to vex town officials]
The front porch bears rocking chairs overlooking a modern take on an English garden. There’s blueberry bushes on the side of the house, and even a Japanese pine to the rear. Ivy and other vines creep up the historic structure, creating a secret garden feeling as guests pass through metal archways.
“We really like preserving the house,” Amanda said.
The McSharrys expect more improvements to be done by December, and the inn will be open year round.
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.