The Maine Maid Inn
By: Thelma Ankney
Considered to be the oldest restaurant on Long Island’s north shore, the Maine Maid Inn was built in 1789 and was originally the home of Elias Hicks. By 1775, he was responsible for the freedom of many slaves in the area by letting everyone know that he strongly believed “all men were equals in the eyes of God”. He played a big role in the Abolition Movement of Jericho. In 1802, the building was the first Post Office in Jericho which was founded by William Guthre. The house later went to Elias’ son-in-law Valentine Hicks along with his wife Abigail and their 3 daughters who were well respected members of the Quaker Community. Valentine Hicks help found the town of Jericho and became President of the Long Island Rail Road after bring rail road service to the local area.
During the Civil War time, the Maine Maid Inn, along with a neighboring establishment called the Mill Ridge Inn, were major stops for the Underground Railroad and helped hide escaped slaves until it was safe for them to continue on their way to freedom. Abigail helped feed and tend to the slaves that stayed there. The Maine Maid Inn was a private home until the 1930’s and it wasn’t until the 1950’s that it was turned into an Inn. The original Maine Maid Inn actually sat in a building next door to where it is today for 10 years.
In 2007 it was bought by Rajiv and Payal Sharma who wanted to bring “old world elegance with contemporary style”. Inside, the Inn gives visitors an idea of how it was back in the day with classic old wood floors, original paintings and various dining rooms elegantly decorated and some overlooking the beautiful landscaped gardens. The second floor linen closet is where the hidden doorway to the Underground Railroad is said to be.
Through the years, many employees and patrons have reported strange happenings. People have claimed to hear footsteps going up the grand stairs case as well as ghostly lights that resemble an old candle stick. Strange sounds and voices have also said to have been heard. Some believe it is the spirits of the old slaves from the Underground Railroad and others feel that Abigail and Valentine may still be wandering around their old homestead.
Unfortunately, due to the struggling economy, The Maine Maid Inn closed its doors in February of 2009 and its fate is undetermined. The town of Jericho has proposed to purchase it and make it a historical landmark but it has not been set in stone.