BENNINGTON, Vt. -- With its long rolling lawn and country manor mien, the Four Chimneys Inn definitely piques the curiosity of passersby.
''We've driven by so many times and really wanted to stay here," a guest told innkeeper Lynn Green as he and his family prepared to check out. ''Our 14-year-old daughter wants to be an innkeeper when she grows up."
Lynn could certainly sympathize. When we stayed at the Four Chimneys last month, she and her husband, Peter, had owned it for three weeks. They had given up jobs in publishing and engineering in Boston and their home in the Back Bay to become innkeepers in Vermont.
''We were tired of the corporate life and wanted a change from the city," Lynn said. ''We would have liked to make the change in about five years, but this property was on the market and we have always really loved it."
The big white structure, with its brick chimneys forming a distinctive roofline, sits back from the road on a broad expanse of grass and old trees in Old Bennington's historic district. It stands on the foundation of a Federal-era home destroyed by fire in 1910. (Three photographs in the entry hall capture the conflagration.)
In addition to a full-service bar, dining room, and sunroom on the main floor, the gracious old building with winding staircase also contains nine guest rooms, with two more in the ice house and carriage house behind the main building.
Room 5 is tucked under the third-floor eaves. But the huge and airy space is hardly a garret. It is about 20 feet square, with a white iron queen bed flanked by wicker night tables and brass reading lamps. Two couches face each other in front of a gas-burning fireplace. Alas, it was too hot to enjoy it; instead, we kept the ceiling fan spinning and resorted to the in-window air conditioner when the humidity built up. Beige-and-white-striped wallpaper was interrupted by an exuberant chair-rail border of lush roses, and the rose theme continued in the upholstery fabric and the bed's patchwork quilt. The bathroom had a vanity sink and double whirlpool tub; a showerhead was mounted at one end of the tub.
From the inn, it's a short walk to The Old First Church, where rows of antique tombstones recall more than two centuries of inhabitants and Robert Frost and his family lie beneath a simple marble slab. It's a longer, uphill walk to the Bennington Monument.
In the downtown commercial center, a little over a mile away, we caught a free concert in the park and perused the full-size painted moose scattered along the streets. They're on display through Oct. 22; the 45 creatures will be auctioned off at an Oct. 29 gala (www.benningtonmoosefest.com).
In addition to the aspiring innkeeper and her parents, our fellow guests included several retired couples who traded stories about golf and bike trips and a young Japanese couple seemingly fascinated by American breakfast cuisine. One morning the woman whipped out her camera to photograph plates of bacon and scrambled eggs with English muffins and a big stack of French toast with sausage. Guests choose among several cooked entrees supplemented by meats, breads, and the muffin and pastry of the day. The brewed coffee was unusually good.
Breakfast is served on the sun porch, where walls of windows on two sides gave us views of chipmunks scampering across the lawn. White linens and small candlelight lamps deck the sun parlor and dining room tables for the more formal dinner service.
The inn seems to be a local destination for a big night out, and the squires and ladies of Bennington happily tucked into venison chops and grilled filet. Our meal began auspiciously with sprightly carrot-ginger soup and crunchy coconut Thai shrimp balanced with a tart red curry. But we erred in our main course selections: duck breast with curried apricot raisin stuffing, duck leg confit, and black currant coulis; and gnocchi with artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic cream sauce.
The deep flavor of the duck leg compensated for missing crispness. The stuffed breast, though, was rubbery and overcooked yet barely warm. The gnocchi and cream sauce (an appetizer ordered as an entree) had merged into what could have passed for garlicky oatmeal. Someone was clearly having an off night in the kitchen. When we expressed our bewilderment about the gnocchi, it was removed from our bill -- but we weren't offered a substitute dish. Fortunately, the intensely sweet carrot cake and milk chocolate brownie mousse were plenty filling and we had that big, comfy room to retire to for the night.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon are freelance writers in Cambridge.