Miniature of the Month
The Wayside Inn by Barbara Davis
It’s always a treat when a person viewing one of our many historical structures and room boxes exclaims, “I’ve been there . . . it looks exactly like this!” You can feel their genuine joy as a miniaturist and their true appreciation of the piece as an art form. These comments are the highest of compliments because as visitors to the original venue, they can also attest to the authenticity of the 1/12th-scale pieces. That experience has proven time and time again with The Wayside Inn by Barbara Davis.
In real life, the Wayside Inn is one of Boston’s most beloved structures and has the honor of being the oldest operating inn in the country. Dating back to 1716, the two-room Howe home hosted travelers along Old Boston Post Road, (one of America’s early mail routes and first highways). It rose to fame as a destination in 1862 after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited and wrote a series of poems inspired by the then-named Red Horse Tavern and its guests. Many of the characters were broadly based on regulars of the pub. In fact, the poet wrote the narrative voice of The Landlord's Tale (famously known as Paul Revere’s Ride) with innkeeper Lyman Howe in mind. His collection of poems published in the book Tales of a Wayside Inn would later prompt the renaming of the Red Horse Tavern to Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, which is today part of a 100-acre historical estate offering dining, overnight stays and event services.
Barbara most certainly would have felt the presence of characters real and imagined as she analyzed, photographed and measured the tavern and its furnishings in her research. It was nostalgic for the California miniaturist who grew up in the Boston area and had visited the inn several times. She was commissioned to create the room box by the owners of the World of Miniatures Museum in San José during the nineties. After the museum’s closing, many of the pieces were gifted to miniaturists. Carol Hardy, who received The Wayside Inn, then donated the room box to the KSB Miniatures Collection in 2018.
The room box which is approximately 19" x 22" x 9" in size also includes furnishings made by the IGMA Artisan who specializes in early American, country, painted and aged furniture. Most of the pieces in the room box other than the Windsor chairs and back table were created by her. The front two tables both have functional tilt tops—the round one opens to provide a seat with a box compartment under the lid; the larger rectangular table tilts to offer storage.
Barbara, like Longfellow, has an impressive history in education, working for most of her life as a teacher, principal and university faculty member. She began her interest in period furniture by collecting antiques, but once she discovered dollhouses at one of the local antique stores, she turned her focus to creating 1/12th-scale furniture and selling at shows. It was a logical step for the accomplished educator and miniaturist to become an instructor at IGMA Guild School in Castine, Maine, and later the IGMA Guild School Director, a position she has held for the past 23 years.
Barbara was as delighted as others who have visited the original tavern to see The Wayside Inn room box as it is displayed in the KSB Miniatures Collection’s latest exhibition, Scaled to Perfection: Encore! She may, however, as maker, take special pride in the following comment from miniature enthusiast Cathereine Gronewold who writes, “I know this tavern room so well. We live very near the Wayside Inn and have enjoyed countless dinners and lunches and special occasions there. The tavern room is among the most charming of the Inn's rooms with its meticulous attention to detail and remarkable period authenticity. This miniature setting is a true treasure.”
Visit the real Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and at www.wayside.org.