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Proctor Mansion Inn
36 Common St
Wrentham, MA 02093

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"Newlywed Wrentham couple first guests in Proctor Mansion"
By Heather McCarron/Staff writer

Thursday Sept 25, 2008

guest1If there is such a thing as fate, then it certainly manifested itself last weekend at the Proctor Mansion Inn, the 1861 landmark facing the town common that this summer has been undergoing revitalization and transformation into an inn.

Innkeepers Dawn and Brian Fitzgerald welcomed their first guests into the second empire French Victorian mansion, which was built 147 years ago by successful entrepreneur Thomas Proctor.

What’s remarkable, said an amazed Dawn Fitzgerald, is that the first guests shared the same surname as the grand home’s first owner: Newlyweds James and Eleanor (Martinez) Proctor, of Wrentham, who married Saturday at Borderland State Park in Easton and then spent their first night as husband and wife in the mansion.

"They called me out of the blue and asked if there was any possible way (to stay on their wedding night)," said Fitzgerald.

She noted she and her husband had been planning to welcome their first guests this coming weekend, but couldn’t pass up the Proctors’ hopeful inquiry earlier this month.

It just seemed too perfect. Fated, she said.

"We ended up speeding it (the opening) up for them," said Fitzgerald. "It was just so neat that their name was Proctor and it was their wedding day and they wanted to spend their wedding night here."

And the newlyweds couldn’t have been more excited and pleased.

"It was so perfect, because they’re just starting out with this business, and the house is just starting out on a new life, and we’re just starting out on a new life," enthused Eleanor Proctor with a smile, sitting beside her new husband late Sunday morning on a plump, Victorian-style sofa in the first-floor, formal parlor.

They had just enjoyed a breakfast of croissants and scones, fruits and yogurt and other dishes, and were eager to do some exploring with Brian Fitzgerald as their guide.

With classical music wafting from one of the back rooms, and with the aroma of freshly-baked scones still skimming the air, the newlyweds talked with enthusiasm about their experience.

"We found something we’ve been missing for about three weeks: Calm and peace," said James Proctor, who isn’t sure if there is a family connection to Thomas Proctor, but who feels "there must be one somewhere," and plans to do research.

"It was like walking into an oasis," his bride agreed. "All the little details in the room made it just perfect. It felt like just coming home to the nicest house ever."

She said she has long admired the old mansion, which had begun to fall into disrepair until the Fitzgeralds came to the rescue, continuing the monumental task of restoration that past owners had barely begun to surmount before having to put the mansion up for sale.

"I’ve always wanted to see the inside of this house. We actually live probably three blocks away," Eleanor Proctor said. "I never imagined we would spend our wedding night here."

She said when she got the reservation, she literally danced around her living room on Cowell Road.

"I just knew this was going to be the perfect thing," she said, beaming. "It was just what we wanted. The perfect break between the wedding day and leaving for the honeymoon."

She and her husband, who headed to Jamaica this week, were not disappointed, either, Eleanor Proctor said.

"It was really, really nice to wake up here," she said.

"Even though we live in Wrentham, I felt like I was in a different place," the groom said, adding with a quick chuckle, "I felt like going to explore the downtown."

He said the two of them both love old homes. Eleanor Proctor grew up in an antique Quaker house, he said, "that has the real feeling that this home catches."

Commenting on the details of the mansion — which, having escaped modernization over the decades, has its original floor plan intact, as well as many of its original frescoes, and much of its original decorative plasterwork and woodwork — they said it’s fantastic it is getting refurbished and lovingly cared for by its new stewards, the Fitzgeralds.

"It’s great that they’re really taking care to maintain the character of the original house," Eleanor Proctor said. "It’s just amazing it is in such good shape. You really do feel like you’ve stepped back in time."

Dawn Fitzgerald said she and her husband, who live in Sharon, have been gratified by the interest and support they’ve gotten from the community since they began their project to restore the Proctor mansion to its original glory.

"So far, it’s been fabulous. The community is very supportive, and that helps keep us going, because bringing up a new business is hard," she said, noting that on Wrentham Day earlier this month, about 500 people came over to check things out.

The phased renovations, she said, are going very well thus far, and two guest rooms have already been completed — the couple expects to finish a third guest room within two weeks.
While a lot of work has been done painting, restoring frescoes, updating the wiring, bringing in cable and Internet, and replacing rotted wood, and the mansion is ready to host limited guests and some functions, Fitzgerald said, "there’s a lot to do, and we have to pace ourselves."

"We’re still on the second floor working on the electrical," she said. "The next big stuff that we’re going to be hitting includes finding places that the wood needs to be replaced. That’s a never ending process. Then we need to put in more bathrooms. Each of the rooms will wind up having a private bath."

Many of the rooms contain antique, period furnishings provided by local antique dealers — including East Street Antiques, the Antiques Marketplace and the Country Store — as part of a antique loan program. The loaned antiques, which join period furnishings the innkeepers have bought themselves, can be purchased, Fiztgerald pointed out.

"We’ve also got a lot of lovely original art on the walls," she said, explaining there is also an art loan program in partnership with the Stable of Artists, a Wrentham artists’ group.

Now the Proctor Mansion is starting to show up on listings of Bed and Breakfasts and inns, she said, even as far away as Europe.

"We do have someone coming in from the Netherlands this coming weekend," Fitzgerald noted.
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