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Sophistication on the horsey side of Seekonk

The White Barn's breakfast room at the Jacob Hill Inn occupies the former horse stalls. The building was renovated in 2004.
The White Barn's breakfast room at the Jacob Hill Inn occupies the former horse stalls. The building was renovated in 2004. (David Lyon for The Boston Globe)
By Patricia Harris and David Lyon
Globe Correspondents / December 21, 2008
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SEEKONK - When we called the Jacob Hill Inn, as requested, to let them know what time we would be arriving, Alice Hand gushed with delight. "You're the best guests," she said, "You actually do what people ask." We were rewarded with a warm greeting from her husband, John, when we pulled in as planned a couple of hours later.

The Hands were tending the inn for two weeks while the owners took a break, and the inn-sitters clearly enjoyed introducing guests to the historic property. The original home dates to 1723, but acquired its name from the Jacob family, which owned it from 1792 until 1915. After a series of additions, it became the hangout for the wealthy power brokers who belonged to the Jacob Hill Hunt Club.

For guests who love details of history as chronicled through real estate deals, there's an 80-page history of the property available for bedtime reading. We were satisfied to learn that Bill and Eleonora Rezek became owners in 1991 and opened their bed-and-breakfast with only three rooms in 1994. They now have seven rooms in the former clubhouse, as well as five suites in the main building, the White Barn. The former horse barn was renovated in 2004.

Before he showed us to the Boston Suite in the White Barn, John Hand pointed out the breakfast area in the former horse stalls and the guest refrigerator stocked with cold drinks. He also explained how to use the Flavia drink machine that dispenses individual servings of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, then led us upstairs to what must have once been a hayloft but is now a spacious lounge for playing billiards and table tennis.

The Rezeks have mixed country furniture, antique farm implements, and horsey paraphernalia to achieve a style that's sophisticated yet comfortable. The Boston Suite featured a king-size bed with a handsome tall headboard carved of dark wood. Even with this imposing piece of furniture the room was spacious and bright. Sand-colored walls provided a neutral background without detracting from the rough wood ceiling and sturdy support beams. A low marble-topped dresser held an ice bucket, wine glasses, bottles of water, and a mason jar with three chocolate chip cookies.

Two armchairs were strategically angled at the foot of the bed so that we could watch the television tucked into a corner cabinet above a gas fireplace.

The swimming pool had been covered for the season, but lounge chairs were scattered on the sweep of grassy lawn between the two buildings. We took the cheese plate and glasses of wine (an amenity for guests in the suites) out to the gazebo where we watched a pair of red-tailed hawks hunting small prey in the field.

The inn is only about a 10-minute drive from Providence. The Hands were full of Providence restaurant suggestions, but we had settled into a country idyll and opted instead for the nearby Old Grist Mill Tavern. John Hand called to make us a reservation - and secure a window table overlooking the falls on the Runnins River

Even on a weeknight, a steady crowd helped themselves to the salad bar before tucking into plates of steak and/or lobster. We opted for prime rib with baked potato and herb-roasted half chicken with rice pilaf. Both were excellent meats expertly cooked and served in generous portions. For dessert we split - and could not finish - a gigantic piece of carrot cake.

For breakfast the next morning, we helped ourselves to fruit, yogurt, and homemade granola before John and Alice served small slices of blueberry and lemon breads, along with banana pancakes and sausage. We were still full from that carrot cake, but we cleaned our plates. We are, after all, the best guests.

Patricia Harris and David Lyon can be reached at harris.lyon@verizon.net.

If You Go

Jacob Hill Inn

120 Jacob St., Seekonk

888-336-9165, 508-336-9165

www.inn-providence-ri.com

What we liked most: Discovering a rural estate in the midst of suburbia.

What we liked least: Tripping on the sudden change of floor height outside our bedroom door.

What surprised us: The self-described "historic Providence bed & breakfast" is actually in Massachusetts.

You know you're at the Jacob Hill Inn when ... no children under 12 are in residence.

Rates: The Jacob Hill Inn's 12 rooms and suites cost $179-$459 per night, full breakfast included. We paid $289 for the Boston Suite on a weeknight. The Old Grist Mill Tavern is at 390 Fall River Ave., Seekonk; 508-336-8460; Monday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 10-9. Entrees $14.95-$37.95.

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