The sitcom Newhart ran on CBS from 1982-1990, fueling my fantasies of moving to Vermont and running a Bed & Breakfast someday while writing books in my spare time, just like Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) did.
When I was on vacation in Vermont back in the 1990s, before it was easy to Google things like that, I was determined to track down the real inn that the Stratford was based on.
Take a look!
The Stratford Inn on “Newhart”
The tagline for the show when it premiered was, “Bob’s Inn Trouble! Running a 200-year old inn is Bob’s way of getting back to nature. But it’s really nature’s way of getting back at him. Looks like Bob’s open for laughs year round.”
The name of the town is never mentioned on the show,
but the exteriors were filmed at the Waybury Inn in Middlbury, Vermont.
When I was in Vermont in the late 1990s, I drove around Middlebury
until I found it and snapped a photo:
The inn had been repainted tan with green shutters by the time I saw it, and it took me a minute to confirm that it was the same place. It looked bigger than it did on TV, too.
On the Waybury Inn website, it says:
For nearly a decade Bob Newhart entertained audiences with his hit TV show, Newhart. In the show, Bob and his wife decide to leave their hectic life in New York City and buy a beautiful inn in Vermont. To our delight, Hollywood came knocking at the Waybury Inn’s door. They thought that the Inn captured the essence of the Vermont experience and wanted to depict us as Bob’s own Stratford Inn!
For years, members of the cast and crew have dropped by to see how their beloved Inn is doing. Bob even sent our Inn’s owner, Tracey, some words of encouragement, writing, “Tracey, Take care of my Inn!”
Be sure to stop in and check out some props from the Newhart show: the Minute Man Café sign and the Stratford Inn sign are located inside the Inn!
In the pilot episode of the sitcom, Dick and Joanna Loudon walk into the empty inn with a real estate agent and decide to buy it on the spot.
Tom Poston played handyman George Utley.
In real life, Poston was married to Suzanne Pleshette, Newhart’s wife in “The Bob Newhart Show.”
The Front Desk at the Stratford Inn
Dick’s Office, where he writes his how-to books:
In the beginning, the show was videotaped, so the picture quality of those episodes isn’t great.
Bob Newhart requested that it be shot on film starting with Season Two.
Dick later became the host of a TV show called “Vermont Today,” and Peter Scolari played his yuppie producer.
Julia Duffy was cast as the new maid, and Peter Scolari was her love interest.
The Dining Room at the Stratford Inn
There was a big stone fireplace in the center of the wood-paneled dining room:
The Stratford Kitchen
It was harder to find episodes that featured the kitchen.
A reader named Brett steered me to episode #8, “Some Are Born Writers.”
Gotta love the big fireplace in the middle of the kitchen and the butcher block island.
The Stratford Inn Lobby
Joanna had fallen through the ice in the pond, so they lead her upstairs to her room:
The Loudon’s (Very Blue) Bedroom
In the famous series finale, Dick wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, his wife from The Bob Newhart Show, and realizes it was all a dream.
In the episode he tells her, “Nothing made sense in this place. The maid was an heiress. Her husband talked in alliterations. The handymen kept missing the point of things. Then there were these three woodsmen, but only one of them talked!”
The opening credits are outtakes of footage that was originally filmed in
New Hampshire for the Katharine Hepburn-Henry Fonda movie On Golden Pond (1981).
Viewers from Vermont could tell that it wasn’t shot there and the show received complaints from some of them.
The Stratford Inn at Night
Long before it was famous for being on TV, Waybury Inn was a fixture in Middlebury for over 200 years. It began as a boarding house and tavern serving stagecoach passengers at the gap in the Green Mountains.
Learn more about the Waybury Inn’s history and see the rooms they have available
(with names like “The Robert Frost Suite”) on their website.