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Wayside Inn for sale again, asking price $1.5 million

Page News and Courier The Shenandoah Valley-Herald The Warren Sentinel
MIDDLETOWN — Lois Charon doesn’t want the “longest continuous operating inn in America” to close while she and her husband Jacob are the owners.

The couple suspended service in the dining room section of the Wayside Inn before Thanksgiving due to staff shortages and aren’t sure when it will reopen.

“We are taking a break,” Lois Charon said, but emphasized that the inn is still open. “We have guests scheduled through January and events in the spring.”

To help ensure that Wayside stays in business, the couple has offered the property for sale or lease.

The historic inn — on 3.76 acres at 7783 Main St. — is listed for $1.5 million — which according to Butch Barnes of Sager Real Estate in Strasburg is under its $1.8 million Frederick County tax assessment.

The inn has 21,076 square feet of space and 23 rooms.

“We have had some inquiries about the unique property,” Barnes said. “It is a wonderful historic building that needs to stay active.”

The inn was built in 1797 along what is now U.S. 11.

It was owned from 1961 to 2008 by Leo M. Bernstein, who died in 2008.

His family sold the property to the Charons at a 2009 auction for $1 million. The price included furniture, antiques and kitchen equipment that will convey with the property.

“We bought the inn to live in,” said Lois Charon, who wanted to operate the establishment with her husband, who also serves as chef. “We have been too successful. We just can’t keep up working seven days a week around the clock.”

They still provide a continental breakfast for guests at the inn, but do not accept outside visitors in the dining room.

“Many of our regulars are disappointed,” she said. “We had to turn away about 200 to 250 for Thanksgiving — people who had come every year.”

Staffing is the main reason for the downsizing of services.

“People don’t seem to want to work,” she said. “Everyone in the hospitality business is looking for help.”

While retaining the historic atmosphere, the Charons have made improvements to the historic district property.

“They fixed things up, but didn’t change it architecturally,” Barnes said. “They brought it to the current era and upgraded to provide Internet access. Even though it is a historic property, it has the comforts of modern time.”

They recently painted the exterior a rust color, a change from the white paint that had covered the structure for decades.

But Barnes doesn’t feel that this is a detriment to selling the property. “Paint can always be changed.”

While he has never listed a historic property, Barnes — a retired law enforcement officer from Manassas — has handled sales of similar amounts and said he understands the historic value of the inn.

He was referred to the Charons by a mutual friend in Manassas.

“They are awesome people, but worn out from running the inn,” he added. “It hurts to see them give it up since they had such a vision for it.”

According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the inn — then known as Wilkinson’s Tavern — began serving travelers as soon as it was built.

During the Civil War, soldiers from both sides visited, so it was spared from destruction. After the war, Jacob Larrick bought it and changed the name to Larrick’s Hotel.

In the early 20th century, it was sold to Samuel Rhodes, who added a third floor and wings on each side and gave it its present name, according to state records.

The Charons plan to move back to a house they own in Prince William County, but are willing to help the new owners or operators get settled.

“We love the inn and want to see it keep going,” Lois Charon said. “And we definitely don’t want to be the ones to kill the ‘longest continuous operating inn in America.
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