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Historic Venues: Where the Past is Present

Peg Bednarsky has been with Historic Inns of Annapolis for 46 years, and as the innkeeper for the three Colonial-era inns, she has seen the shift from a time when people were ho-hum about history to today, when “there are people who are history hungry,” she said. Historic venues have stories to tell, and meeting and conference attendees are eager to hear them.

“People do love the history,” she said, adding, “They’re indulging in it and enjoying it more these days.”

Historic venues can add an element of awe to an otherwise standard event. Here are some hotels and conference centers around the country that use their historic charm as selling points.


Waypoint Event Center

New Bedford, Massachusetts

When developers were looking to build a hotel on the historic harbor in New Bedford, Massachusetts, they found a former cat-food-processing plant next to a vacant, 1800s stone building that was once a whale oil refinery.

The property owner decided to demolish the cat food plant to build the 106-room New Bedford Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott, but keep the whaling-era building to transform it into the hotel’s conference and event center, said Shelly Perry, director of sales.

The hotel and attached Waypoint Event Center, which opened in 2010, have become popular for meetings because “people are looking for someplace different to host their event,” Perry said. The hotel fronts the historic New Bedford harbor dotted with colorful fishing boats, so it offers great views, and the event center’s setting has attracted new port-related meetings and conferences, Perry said. The center can accommodate up to 150 people.

Two of the four boardrooms on the ground floor can be combined to create a 950-square-foot conference room. On the second floor, vaulted ceilings in the 1,600-square-foot SeaLoft showcase the original rough-hewn beams. There’s also a private outdoor patio.

“A lot of people do really like the history, especially a lot of the conferences,” Perry said. “They like the fact that we’ve taken something old that is part of the New Bedford history and incorporated it into something brand new.”