In 1927, young James Stoughton left a life of tending fields and animals to erect a small roadside sandwich stand. As its popularity grew over the decades, he gave in to his artistic proclivities and built a professional theater. Room by room, the stand and the playhouse grew into a sprawling estate, and Green Gables Restaurant was born.
Today, owner and descendant Mary Louise Stoughton grins at a sea of diners and wedding-reception guests as they chat in the restaurant's hand-hewn wooden halls. The revelers excuse themselves from tables momentarily to wander the building, which is home to a bevy of hidden whimsies. Observant explorers discover statues of inquisitive human forms, carved in the nineteen-twenties by French sculptor Crenier, that silently heft monolithic urns which bear the weight of the ceiling above. Beside wrought-iron chairs and tables, glass windows bloom with verdant plants, and antique shelves bear rows of antique Pennsylvania glass, china, and pottery. The Tuscany Room's skylights spill natural light over hand-carved wooden beams harvested from local barns and a dance floor inlaid with fleurs-de-lis, all bordered by four towering oak trees.
Executive Chef Susan Kroft fills each room with spice-laden aromas from duck, beef, and shellfish. Stoughton, who is also a sommelier with training from the French Wine Academy, fills clinking glasses with more than 100 grape elixirs during normal meal hours, at monthly wine tastings or at occasional wine-and-dining events that save pupils the trouble of breaking open a satyr's piggy bank. A network of paths and terraces leads to the adjoining Huddleson Court country inn, as well as to the doors of Mountain Playhouse, the property's original theater.