Bull’s Head Inn Gets New Life
By Eugenia Moskowitz
“We almost lost it,” said Michele Ferraro, one half of the brother and sister duo that bought and is currently renovating the old Bull’s Head Inn on Sarah Wells Trail in Campbell Hall. “It hadn’t been properly winterized since its closing in 2012 and there was extensive damage.” But she and her brother Tom Ferraro fell in love with it and bought it just in time to salvage, renovate it, and, if all goes according to plan, reopen this year.
Originally built in the mid-1700s for Thomas Bull and Sarah Wells, and with structures such as a giant 15-foot stone hearth in the cellar that had been continuously stoked and used to heat the entire house, a tour through the inn is really a walk through history with different rooms, floors, and additions added in the years up to 1829. Some additions and modernizations were made afterward, and it opened as a restaurant in 1967. It had been dormant since 2012.
Now the place is abuzz with scores of workers renovating everything from floor to ceiling. And, sitting in the glassed-in gazebo overlooking the gardens and lily pond, one can see the past coming to life. “It’s starting to talk now,” Tom said. “It’s a special place with so many special stories attached. People stop in every day as they drive by and tell us tales like how they had their child’s graduation celebration here, or how they went into labor while eating dinner. Amazing stories from the past. It was sad the way it had been left to fall apart and we felt it deserved to be brought back.”
Guests will walk into an open-bar area seating about 25 people, and then two dining rooms each holding a similar amount, with tables for four. Larger groups will be accommodated in the upstairs dining room, with a fourth special-occasion room as well as a 20-seat lounge with sofas, TV, and another bar, which can host any kind of group that wishes to use it. The gazebo, which holds 40 people, can be open to the fresh air or closed and heated or cooled as per the season. The gardens, while beautiful in their summer glory including flowering pond lilies, will also be exquisite in the snow.
“We first noticed it four and a half years ago when we were up here visiting our mother for Mother’s Day,” Michele said. “We had grown up in Maybrook, I was working in banking, and Tom was a confectionary broker down in Florida, and we knew we wanted this place. But we weren’t ready to do it just then. A few months ago, when we saw it was still available, we jumped on it.”
The Ferraros created two successful restaurants in Florida, which are still in operation. “This one is going to be especially welcoming and warm,” Tom said, “a beautiful dining experience with top shelf drink, quality food and provisions, but without the crazy prices, so everyone can dine here. We want to accommodate everyone who lives here.” Happy hour will be old-school with complimentary finger foods on Mondays and Tuesdays, and there will be themes on the other days like Throwback Thursdays with old Bull’s Head menus from the past. “We’ve teamed up with local distilleries, craft breweries, and hard cideries, and will have free samples of their products available. Music will be Fridays and weekends with a Sunday jazz brunch. Two chefs are on-board, including a Michelin star chef. Not pretentious, but elegant and homey. This will be a place people will feel comfortable in.”
The easy back-and-forth banter between brother and sister kept this reporter laughing and gave a glimpse as to how the place will be run: efficiently, and with much humor. While Michele was overseeing the granite being laid on the bar, Tom was outside organizing the garden area in the heat which, as he said, was nothing compared to Florida. With constant interruptions, and while keeping multiple physical and financial tasks in their heads all day every day, Team Ferraro is humming right along in bringing one of the oldest area restaurants back to vibrant life again.
Editor’s Note: If you know of, or were part of, any special events that contribute to the history of The Bull’s Head Inn, whether historical or social, send them to the Orange County Post at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share them with the Ferraro family.
CAPTION 1: Ferraro’s Bull’s Head Inn is located at 120 Sarah Wells Trail, in Campbell Hall. (Photos by Eugenia Moskowitz)
CAPTION 2: Brother and sister team Tom and Michele Ferraro beside the new bar, adorned with wine box designs, as the granite was laid.
CAPTION 3: The front porch will welcome guests who can then dine in a number of rooms or in the gazebo at right overlooking the gardens.
CAPTION 4: The entry hall alone was a walk through history with artifacts, including old plates and glassware from the past, piled high.