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The Dowds’ Country Inn Turns 30

Jul 25, 2019 01:22PM ● By Kevin
The Dowds' Country Inn, a long-standing establishment in Lyme, celebrates 30 years as a host to out-of-towners and staycationers alike here in 2019. The original farmhouse was built in 1780 and was purchased by its owner, Tami Dowd, in 1989. She’s been developing and operating the Inn ever since.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Dowd for an exclusive Q&A, discussing the history of the establishment and much more.

Here in Hanover Magazine: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background? How did you get involved with the Dowd Inn?

Tami Dowd: At 22 years, I purchased what is now The Dowds' Country Inn. At that time, the Inn was a private home owned by Mary Bowden of 29 years. I was one year out of business management college working in the restaurant industry (Everything But Anchovies) with family and had decided that I wanted to do something for my future children/family: start a business. We had started a project in Lyme being approved to build out the old Don Cutter Building, what used to be the Post Office in the day, into a restaurant, Everything But Anchovies of Lyme. As I was sitting at what used to be the old Nichol's Hardware Lunch counter working with the foremen on the project, Mrs. Bowden walked in and asked me if I was truly interested in purchasing her home. I had heard a rumor about 2 weeks prior, picked up the phone and called about her house being for sale. At that immediate time, her response was, ‘I am not ready to sell my home. I am going to wait until my tax bracket changes and that will be next year.’ Two weeks later, as I was sitting at the old Nichol's Hardware Store (a family business missed by many) in walked Mrs. Bowden with an envelope. She walked into the middle of the group of foremen and said to me. ‘Are you serious about purchasing my home?’ I said yes. Thirty days later, we owned The Dowds' Country Inn.

The closing was on March 17, 1989. On March 18, Mary Bowden and Dick Olmsted were married in what was formally the living room of Mary's home, now the Shelburne Room of the Inn. We tell everyone that they were our first official wedding. Mary moved out of her home by April 1 and we started renovating 24 hours a day on April 2, 1989. We had my father's construction company working all day with another construction company out of Bradford, Vt., coming in and working nights. We opened June 1, 1989, with 12 rooms, all with private baths and telephones in the rooms, just in time for our first big weekend, Dartmouth Graduation. At that time, Dartmouth Graduation was hosted the first weekend in June.

Originally, I went to school for business management expecting to take over my dad’s 38-man construction crew, being an only child. However, my dad had a different view on my future and it was not in the construction business. So, I guess you can say, my journey changed and here I am 30 years later loving what I do.

HIHM: Tell us a bit about the history of the Inn. How has it evolved/progressed over the years?

Dowd: The original farmhouse was built in 1780. It was owned by Arthur Latham who actually owned what was the Lyme Plains. At one time, the Inn was attached to the Lyme Country Store—both the farm and the store were operated by the Latham Family. At one point, there was a family fallout, separating the store and farm house.

When we opened in 1989, there were a handful of inns in the area, unlike today. The growth in the Upper Valley in the hotel business over 30 years has changed tremendously. When we opened in 1989 there were high demand weekends that you could simply expect to be full. Today, people want convenience. Thirty years ago when we opened the Inn, times were different. Guests would drive the 10 miles out of Hanover, check-in, and go back to town for dinner. We also were one of the only places other than the larger venues that hosted country weddings. Today, we focus more on being a destination venue, whether it is for a wedding, conference/retreat, family get-a-way, reunion, etc. In 2016, we opened the Latham House Tavern here at The Dowds' Country Inn. This has been a wonderful addition for our inn guests and event guests. It has created a destination for both those guests traveling through and for groups.

HIHM: Are you planning an anniversary event? If so, can you provide details?

Dowd: Not currently.

HIHM: What makes the Inn special to the Hanover community?

Dowd: The Inn is a family operation of 30 years. We host pride in being family-owned and operated and daily there is a family member on location to invite our neighbors and surrounding communities to visit. We have been hosting the families of Upper Valley residents and Dartmouth students for years, as well as returning alumni visiting their alma mater.

The Inn provides a local rate and breakfast for the host. What this means is we offer to your family and friends from out of town a local rate. This rate is a thank you to your family and/or friends for joining you. In addition to the discounted room rates hosted we too invite you, our neighbor to join your guests for breakfast compliments of the Inn. This is a thank you for inviting your guests to join us.

We also provide discounts to individuals who have traveled and have friends or family in Dartmouth Hitchcock for procedures or specialist visits.

HIHM: What are the plans for the Inn in the future? Are there any major changes coming?

Dowd: As far as the facility/building, no more changes. We have reached our maximum building lot coverage. However, we continuously maintain the gardens, blue stone patios, building arbors and new country motif to enhance the overall experience of our guests. The one big project that we have for this summer is to build outside dining for the Latham House Tavern. With this, we will continue to designing build additional patios, enhance gardens, etc. 

HIHM: What makes Lyme and the surrounding area special to you?

Dowd: Being an only child at a young age I had decided that I would need to be close to my parents as they aged. Of course, 30 years ago my parents were young and building their own construction company. But my family has history here with several generations living in town. So, Lyme truly is my childhood home town. 

HIHM: Aside from your work at the Inn, what other interests do you have?

Dowd: I have three horses. They truly are my sanctuary. Being around the horses helps keep with clarity and staying grounded. We have three dogs (five between the family) that I run or go for a walk with to simply be outdoors daily. My hobbies are horseback riding, running/walking the dogs, hiking, water activities and being with family. 

HIHM: Is there anything you'd like to say to the community at large?

Dowd: Our family wants to thank our Lyme Community and surrounding communities for their continued support to our families Inn business and the addition of the Latham House Tavern. The support felt by the family and staff here at both the Inn and the Tavern is endless.

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