About halfway between Sequim and Port Angeles, along Finn Hall Road, the stately George Washington Inn bedazzles passersby and visitors alike. It does, after all, closely resemble George and Martha Washington’s mansion more than 2,000 miles away at Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, Virginia.
As if the sight of the inn isn’t enough, when the fields of lavender are in bloom during the summer months, travelers find it difficult to resist driving along the flower-lined driveway leading up to the inn, the farm and the gift shop. The best times of all to explore the George Washington Inn and Washington Lavender Farm is, of course, during the Washington Lavender Festival and the Sequim Lavender Weekend. The owners, Dan and Janet Abbott, always encourage visitors to stop by the farm during the mid July farm festival and to bring their friends as well. The farm store is open during the summer months and other times by appointment (360-452-5207).
The bold and beautiful waterfront inn and estate is one of several farms featured on the Tour de Lavender in early August. A reenactment of the Battles of Lexington and Concord takes place on the estate during the Northwest Colonial Festival towards the end of the lavender harvest. Afternoon Tea on the oceanfront piazza is hosted on special occasions and intimate musical events are sometimes held both inside and outside the inn. These events are updated on the website throughout the year.
More than 5,000 lavender plants and millions of wildflowers 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.
Fifteen 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 noth 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 contain the other four guest suites: the Presidential and General Washington Suites and the Surveyor’s and Mount Vernon Retreats.
Dan splits his time between Sequim and South Carolina. His goal is to retire from his job as a financial advisor after the inn becomes successful and profitable enough to support itself. 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.
Once the inn was up and running, lavender won them over and was found to thrive in Sequim’s unique climate, which has become known as America’s Provence. When people ask Dan Abbott, “Why lavender?” he responds with, “Why not? Lavender is the most versatile herb with its antiseptic, aromatic and culinary properties. There are so many ways to develop the product taken from the lavender plant.” And you can see that from the lavender products offered for sale in the farm store and gift shop.
The farm has become a vital part of the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association, a non-profit that promotes agritourism on the Olympic Peninsula. Each year the Abbotts gain a better understanding of what it takes to make it all happen. No longer the “new kids on the block,” they help lead by sharing the inn and lavender farm with the community and tourists.
“When we bought the property 15 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 farm store and gift shop 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 pillow as well as several new products that have been added this year – all handmade and marked with the “Martha’s Own” or “By George” labels.
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 decade. George Washington Inn and Washington Lavender Farm is located between Sequim and Port Angeles at 939 Finn Hall Road (Port Angeles, WA). For more information, visit the website.
Story adapted from the Sequim Gazette.
Featured in The Seattle Times.