The ocean view from George Washington Inn

(Adapted from the original in celebration of our ten years by the sea)
In the shade of this old tree in the summer of my dreams
By the tall grass, by the wild rose; where the trees dance and the wind blows
As the days go oh so slowly, as the sun shines oh so holy
On the good and gracious green in the summer of my dreams
On the banks of this old sea, in the summer of my dreams.
Where the ships glide and the birds soar; where the seals play as the tide lo’ers
There’s a field of purple clover, there’s a small cloud passing over
And then the hills turn shades of green in the summer of my dreams
See the raindrops on the grass now, just like diamonds lying there
By the old road where I pass now there’s a twilight in the air
And as the sun sets o’er the sea I see my true love waiting for me
Standing by the back door screen in the summer of our dreams.
In the shade of this old tree in the summer of our dreams
By the tall grass, by the wild rose; where the trees dance as our love grows
As the days go oh so slowly; as the sun shines oh so holy
‘Cause a good and gracious God made the summer of our dreams.

The Story of George Washington Inn and Estate

If you’ve been waiting for an invitation to explore the George Washington Inn and its lavender farm, now is the time. The bold and beautiful waterfront inn is one of seven farms on tour during the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire this year. Tickets for a High Tea on the oceanfront piazza and a full tour of the inn are also available.

More than 2,000 lavender plants are planted in multiple fields and line the 1,200-foot driveway on each side. The contrast between the dark purple plants and the snow-white structure is breathtaking, not to mention the Strait of Juan de Fuca peeking out at guests from behind the inn. Owners Dan and Janet Abbott encourage guests to stop by the farm during the three-day festival (July 20-22, 2012) and to bring their friends, too.

Ten years ago, the Abbotts relocated from South Carolina to build and manage the Mount Vernon-inspired inn. They purchased the initial five acres in 2002 after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about Sequim and later bought an additional five acres to open the bed and breakfast. While the floor plan is not an exact replica of the founding father’s home, the exterior is almost identical. The only really obvious differences are an enclosed veranda on the north side and the front portico with pillars. The main floor of the home serves as common areas for the guests and also houses one guest suite — Martha’s Retreat. The upstairs contains the other four guest suites: the Presidential and General’s Suites and the Surveyor’s and Mount Vernon Retreats.

Dan Abbott has to continue to split his time between Sequim and the East Coast. His goal is to retire from his job as a financial advisor after the inn becomes successful and profitable enough to support itself and the family. Janet keeps busy as the innkeeper and making lavender products from their farm.

The Finn Hall Road property has a unique history of its own. A man-made ditch in the ground not far from the inn once served as a machine gun nest during World War II to guard against the Japanese, according to neighbor John Jarvis, a Sequim resident since 1931. When people ask Dan Abbott, “Why lavender?” he responds with “Why not? Lavender is the most versatile herb with its anesthetic, aromatic and culinary properties,” he said. “There are so many ways to develop the product taken from the lavender plant.” Once the inn was up and running, Abbott experimented with planting different berries and fruit trees, but lavender won them over and was found to thrive in Sequim’s unique climate.

The farm has become a vital part of the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association and will be on the Farm Tour for its second year. As the event approaches, Dan Abbott has a better understanding of what it takes to make it all happen. Last year they were the “new kids on the block,” but found it exciting to share the inn and lavender farm with the community and tourists. Friends and family came to help. “When we bought the property ten years ago it was just a worn-out hay field,” Janet Abbott said. “We never set out to do this originally. It’s evolving and we find it fulfilling to see how it has come together.”

The inn has a small lavender gift shop in the inn that is open year-round for guests or by appointment. The couple also decided to convert the three-car garage of the carriage house and transform it into a larger, seasonal gift store. Products include lavender basics such as soaps, lotions, bath salts, candles, teas, spices, essential oils, sachets and pillows — all handmade and marked with the “Martha’s Own” or “By George” labels. “We are adding some new products this year, and we are continuing to develop the property in ways that will bring visitors here to enjoy the inn and its magnificent views,” Janet Abbott said. Like so many successful couples, Dan and Janet Abbott balance each other. He’s the “visionary” of the relationship and she’s the “one who makes it work.” As they walk the property and enjoy its incredible panorama, they hold hands and smile at each other, reflecting on all that they’ve accomplished together over the past ten years.

(By Ashley Miller for the Sequim Gazette)