From the street, the Harborview Inn appears to be just another quaint and charming New England inn. And it is, in fact, quaint and charming, beautifully situated at Gloucester Harbor in a row of houses across from the Fisherman’s Memorial, and just a few minutes from downtown shops, restaurants, beaches, and Stage Fort Park. There are six guest rooms, with fitting names like Essex Room, Gloucester Suite, Manchester Room, and . . . “the Golub Suite’’? Hello? This is when you suspect the inn has a story behind it, which host John Orlando is happy to share.
It turns out that he and his wife, Marie, are only the third owners of the house in 202 years. It was built by the Gorton family (of frozen seafood fame) in 1810, and later sold to a couple named Golub who owned it for 50 years. Orlando grew up eight houses away, and was almost like a son to the Golubs, who had no children. “They took me in as the young person who helped them stay in touch with the world,” he said. When the Golubs died, their will specified Orlando had the first right of refusal on the house and could buy it at a discounted price.
There was one condition: He had to make sure that the money he paid for the house would go to their two favorite charities.
“I love the fact that every dime I paid for the house went to charity,” said Orlando, son of a fisherman whose fishing boat was the last one built at the Essex Shipyard.
Orlando was in the retail jewelry business when he bought the house. In 1994 he turned it into a bed-and-breakfast. It’s a good fit for him: All these years later, he’s still passionate about what he does, and seems to truly enjoy his guests. They seem to like him back. The day we were there, one guest was happily tending to the garden while another was serving coffee.
The ambience is warm and welcoming — so much so that Orlando’s friends and relatives often come to sit on the porch and enjoy the view. A pleasing continental breakfast is available (but some fruit other than apples would have made it more pleasing).
HARBORVIEW INN 71 Western Ave., on Stacey Boulevard, 978-283-2277, www.harborviewinn.com. Rooms $139-$239, free parking.