Long a bastion of tradition, Andover gets contemporary updates
ANDOVER — This classic New England community 25 miles north of Boston is best known as the home of prestigious Phillips Academy, proving ground for presidents and a certain hoodie-clad National Football League coach. The town is much more than just the gown, however. And now, following the rebirth of an Andover icon and the opening of several new restaurants, a contemporary energy beats behind the town’s traditional facade.
STAY A 15-month renovation has breathed new life into the Andover Inn (4 Chapel Ave., 978-775-4900, www.acc-andoverinn.com, $129-$279), a local institution since it opened in 1930 on the Phillips Academy campus. The dated decor has been replaced with modern amenities, including flat-screen televisions, and unique touches such as reproductions of paintings from the academy’s world-class Addison Gallery of American Art. Each of the 30 rooms in the inn, which reopened in October, features en suite bathrooms. The inn’s restaurant, Samuel’s, has been updated, too. Old-timers may gripe about the Yankee stuffiness being supplanted by a more casual atmosphere, but they will still find classic New England dishes on the menu.
DINE For too long, downtown Andover had been a bastion of banks and boutiques, but that’s changed with the opening of several new restaurants in the past year, including Brasserie 28 (2 Elm Square, 978-470-2228, www.brasserie28.com, $5-$26). When it opened last July, the restaurant featured tapas-style plates, but the menu recently expanded to include entrees such as Maine pink shrimp paella and rib-eye steak. The star attractions are the vast wine selection and a sleek, state-of-the-art dispensing system that keeps bottles air-tight and at the optimal temperature. A lounge area with couches and live music on Tuesday nights lends a cosmopolitan vibe.
SHOP Tradition and charm have not disappeared from here entirely. The Andover Bookstore (89R Main St., 978-475-0143, www.hugobookstores.com/ando ver), which dates to 1809, is the country’s second-oldest continually operating bookstore. The selection cannot match a chain store, but it’s a small price to pay for the pleasure of wandering the store’s creaky floors and browsing its dark-wood bookshelves lined with staff recommendations. Readings by notable authors keep this venerable store relevant in the e-book age.