“140 Years of Interior Trends”: The Waldoboro Inn Opens in Maine

My design aesthetic was forged in the world of fashion,” writes Alexa Stark. I’ve been a champion of up-cycling and re-purposing from the day I graduated.”

Alexa is writing to us from Waldoboro, Maine, where she quietly opened an eclectic, lovingly hand-done inn and wine bar this summer. “Though I’m ‘from away’”—she went to the arsons School of Design, then lived in Portland, Oregon for a long stretch—”I had been an active member of the Waldoboro community for 33 years, taking part in local theater summer productions at the Waldo Theater, teaching workshops, and volunteering at the annual bean suppers,” Alexa writes. “During the height of the pandemic I moved to Maine full time and turned most of my attention to the Midcoast community, taking a job with Oyster River Winegrowers while keeping a toe in my fashion line” (have a peek at that here).

So Alexa was familiar with the 1880 Italianate mansion in Waldoboro’s small downtown—she’d driven by many times—and when she saw it posted for sale, she knew she’d, somehow, be opening an inn. “When I first walked through the doors I felt ease. It just felt right.” She brought in friends Nathan Reimer and Danielle Lombari, who she’d met in the Pacific Northwest. “We talked about it nonstop for a week, and after bringing my father Eric Stark, into the conversation, we put in our offer.”

The next eight months (“and counting,” Alexa adds) was a whirlwind of renovations both massive and tiny. “It needed a new roof, two new bathrooms, heat pumps, wallpaper removal in the main stairwell, and ten fresh painted rooms,” according to Alexa. “High Seas Builders and artist Santa Wolanczyk were a great help, and luckily between us owners we could do a lot of the build out ourselves.”

Not to mention all of the hand-done details: hand-painted wallpaper, window coverings infused with family history, and re-done furniture inspired Alexa’s work in fashion, just to name a few.

Join us for a look around.

Photography by Nola Logan, courtesy of The Waldoboro Inn.

alexa and her pup, henri, outside the inn. the inn and attached wine bar, ida&a 14
Above: Alexa and her pup, Henri, outside the inn. The inn and attached wine bar, Ida’s, have already become a destination for the community and design lovers in the know. (When I stopped by on a Monday night a few weeks ago, Ida’s was full to brimming with diners for a pop-up dinner.)

“the inn is an italianate mansion built in 1880 by captain john b. 15
Above: “The Inn is an Italianate mansion built in 1880 by Captain John B. Stahl, one of Waldoboro’s illustrious ship captains who sailed the coast, bringing timber, granite, and ice to ports south,” Alexa writes. “In 1920 the house was converted to a twenty-room boarding house and tavern by his son and daughter-in-law. Stahl’s Tavern closed in the mid-sixties, and the house was bought by Waldoboro’s pharmacist, becoming something of a community hub.” Fast forward to October 2022, and Alexa and her crew became the fourth owners of the house, giving it life for 2023. 

the downstairs sitting room is one of several common spaces on the main floor.  16
Above: The downstairs sitting room is one of several common spaces on the main floor. “The aesthetic of the inn is a collaboration between myself and my father, Eric Stark,” Alexa writes. “He was a contemporary art dealer in New York for 20 years and then the curator of the art collection at The New School, before he started an interior design business blending contemporary art and European and American post-revolutionary furniture (from 1800-1960).”

alexa and co. preserved the bright yellow wallpaper in the front room, which da 17
Above: Alexa and co. preserved the bright yellow wallpaper in the front room, which dates to the years the house was owned by the town pharmacist. “I think it’s from the 1970s,” Alexa writes. “I kept saying to myself, ‘This house has lived through 140 years of interior trends. I must highlight the good parts; whether it’s 1880s parquet floors or 1970s wallpaper, it all has its place in this home.”