Red and yellow mums in four window boxes at the Henry Derby House Bed and Breakfast welcome visitors.
But to really feel at home in the circa 1840 house on the Summer Street corner is to sit in its dining room.
Blue and white China await breakfast in a vintage cabinet. A marble fireplace that blazes in winter rests on the opposite side of the room.
Chairs with comfortable seats upholstered in flowered prints sit around a big wooden table covered by a quilted table cloth. And paintings of flowers hang on azure walls.
It’s the kind of place you might have listened to stories on a Saturday morning when growing up.
That’s the feel former owner and Peg Camarda created when she turned her home into a bed and breakfast years ago.
Peg passed away last month but her son, Philip Marchand, and daughter, Lisa Marchand, maintain the bed and breakfast's charm and warmth that draw visitors back year after year.
Many of those visitors come as families.
Just a day earlier a family was staying at the home for the 10th time in 10 years.
They enjoyed Peg's stories at breakfast about the house built by a Salem pharmacist.
One of her regular tales was about Sarah.
Sarah was a maid. She lived in the house for years, and continues her residency to this day as a spirit, a ghost.
Her bedroom was on the third floor, where, later, Philip slept.
Guests at the bed and breakfast say they feel her presence and experience her handiwork. Old habits die hard and Sarah still tidies up after those who stay in the home, Lisa said.
But Sarah was not always keen on people she did not know staying in her home, and she let it be known, keeping Peg’s son, Philip, up at night.
Eventually Philip convinced Sarah that the home's new life was as a bed and breakfast and Sarah accpeted the change.
She is a friendly spirit, says Lisa Marchand.
To experience the family atmosphere, and Sarah’s presence, guests will need to book their stay months in advance.
The three rooms are booked through weekends up to Halloween. A few weekday openings remain in October.
The October rates range from $135-$190 per night.
For more information and to book a reservation visit the Henry Derby website http://www.henryderbyhouse.com/