By Katie Demeria
MIDDLETOWN -- When George and Becky Reeves purchased the Wayside Inn in Middletown, the community asked them two questions: "Are you going to paint?" and "Will you have peanut soup?"
They can now say yes to both.
The couple recently completed painting the outside of the historic building white, restoring its more historically accurate white and gray look. And peanut soup has remained on the menu.
Many people had different ways of describing the former color, the Reeves said, but "orange" seemed to be the most popular.
"Everything that was pumpkin-colored is now back to white," Becky Reeves said.
The inn remains an important feature in the community, and in order to allow local residents to appreciate its new look, the Reeves will host an event this Saturday. They plan on serving light refreshments from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event is also designed to thank those who donated funds to the new painting project.
George Reeves said the couple set up a donation area next to the inn's well, boasting a sign that said, "I wish the inn was painted."
Those donations totaled $600.
"So many people wanted to help," George Reeves said.
They are also allowing individuals to sponsor one of the inn's 23 columns. For $200 the couple will install a plaque onto the chosen column complete with the donor's name. So far, though, only one column has been sponsored.
The building's exterior was white throughout most of its history, including during the 54-year period in which Leo Bernstein owned it. The Reeves knew Bernstein well and still work with the Bernstein Foundation.
In historic photos, George Reeves said the inn was usually white with gray shutters, so that is how they decided to repaint.
Only a few touch ups are required before it is entirely finished, he said, but soon all the shutters will be up and the project will be complete.
The couple has also worked to improve the inn's back patio, working with the town for a boundary adjustment to keep the pavilion, which has a design similar to a classic log cabin, on the property.
They have also improved the landscaping surrounding the patio, repainting the furniture and fire escape, and adding various new plants.
The inn's daily upkeep has required a great deal of effort, according the Reeves. Surprisingly, they said, a great deal of their business comes from groups hosting special events such as breakfast or lunches at the inn, rather than regular customers.
"We're really happy about that," Becky Reeves said. "It's exceeded our expectations."
They have come up with some ideas, such as hosting a dinner theater, for the inn's future, but right now they are focusing on tackling one housekeeping project at a time.
Still new business owners, they are not exactly sure what the next few years have in store for the inn.
"If we can leave it better than we found it, then we'll be proud of what we've done," George Reeves said.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org