UPTON — Charlotte Dominique has
always been saddened to see old farmhouses in poor
shape. She loves old furnishings,
architectural features and the feel of wood.

So, a few years ago, she and her
fiance, Bob Pepler, decided to buy the former Douglas, or Peaslee
farm and transform it into their home and an inn. It’s now The Upton House on Route 26, surrounded by two acres and situated right in the village with views
of Lake Umbagog.

Dominique and Pepler, from western
Rhode Island, have been traveling to this small, rural community
for many years, primarily to take advantage of the many snowmobile
trails. After a visit with friends who operate
a bed and breakfast in Wentworth Location, N.H., the couple decided
they’d like to have a chance to meet people and participate in the
tight-knit community.

The Upton House isn’t a bed and
breakfast, but it does offer a continental breakfast, complete with
freshly baked goods from several members of the Ladies Aid Society.

Pepler, and contractor Paul Anctil of
nearby Errol, N.H., have been working to restore the nearly
two-and-a-half story farmhouse for more than two years. And Dominique, a teacher of high school
American literature, uses her eye for color and décor, as well
as her love for antiques, to create a theme for each room. The two
rooms currently available for visitors are the Victorian Room,
decorated with poster beds, a round oak table and a three-mirrored
dresser, and the French Canadian Room with muted gold walls and a
variety of antiques.

When the inn is complete, those two
rooms will revert to use by visiting family and friends, and four
new ones will be available for the traveling public.

All things chickadee and pine will be in one room. Browns and bold colors will be the backdrop for the Native
American Room. Nautical paintings and blue walls will be featured in
the Nautical Room. And the Celtic Room will have muted green walls and a bold carpet.

Pepler, a retired United Parcel Service
employee, is redoing what will soon become the grapevine room, a
place for people to cluster.

The ell of the 1886 farmhouse was in poor condition, with a sagging roof when Pepler and Dominique
bought it. The house had been vacant for seven years. The couple
liked the ell, but knew it had to be removed. The addition, however,
is a mirror image of the original ell. The rest of the building,
including a barn in good condition, is original.

The two said they love the community, and the
friendliness of the people.

When the town had its first Upton Day
celebration last month, more than 100 people toured the Upton House.
Many have given older, period furniture for the inn and neighbors
like to check on the progress.

“The isolation of the community gives
a special quality. People need each other,” Dominique said.

When not planning the next decorating
project for the inn, Dominique is compiling a history of the farm.
Both she and Pepler hope to offer the grapevine room as a place for
community meetings, and Dominique is thinking that sometime she may open a small retail or consignment shop.

“This is such a beautiful, beautiful
area,” she said.

She plans to retire next year, then
devote all her time to helping run the inn. A grand opening will
be held then.

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Charlotte Dominique and Bob Pepler are shown in the Victorin Room of the Upton House, a new inn that just opened in the  western town of Upton.

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