The Harbor Inn is located in the village of Westport Harbor, Massachusetts – also known locally by its Algonquian Indian name “Acoaxet” * – on a point of land twixt ocean, harbor, and pond just to the west of where the Westport River empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
The present-day Inn had its beginnings in the mid-1700’s as the Harbor Farm, a self-sustaining seaside dairy and crop farm whose main barn structure housed both animals and their masters.
With the onset of the industrial revolution in the early 1800’s, farming and cattle-grazing areas gradually gave way to much coveted vacation retreats and, by the mid-1860’s, retired whaling Captain James Sowle’s nearby seaside hotel became a popular destination (Harriet Beecher Stowe stayed there in 1869).
This influx of visitors increased the amount of horse traffic and the Harbor Farm became a livery and boarding stable (accommodating both horses and their drivers) and the southern terminus of the Westport Harbor stagecoach line which made railroad and steamship connections in the city of Fall River.
Two of these stagecoach teamsters, the brothers Charles and Arthur Macomber, bought the farm in 1894 and expanded the business to include a grocery store, telegraph and post office, wagon repair, and heavy-freight hauling. After the death of Capt. Sowle in 1898, the Macombers detached the three-story south wing of the old Sowle’s Hotel and hauled it almost a quarter of a mile to the Harbor Inn where it was reattached to the north side, thus completing the transition from farm to inn.
Since 1975 the Harbor Inn has been operated under the stewardship of Innkeepers, Bernard J. and Lillian S. Steinke.
“Acoaxet” is a Narragansett Indian word meaning ‘at the fishing promontory’ or ‘place of small fields’. - (Bernard P. Steinke)