The story starts with Bruce Sundlun, a WWII hero whose code name was Salamander. While flying his 13th mission as a B-17 bomber pilot, Sundlun’s plane crashed over Nazi-occupied Belgium.
For months, he evaded capture by crossing into France and Spain. The Maquis, a resistance group that was waging guerrilla war against the Germans, recruited Sundlun and gave him the code name “Salamander” after the amphibian that can mythically walk through fire.
Upon returning to the U.S., Sundlun graduated from Harvard Law School and went to Washington, D.C., as an assistant U.S. attorney. Later, he had a series of successes in private industry, returning to politics as a two-term governor of Rhode Island.
Sundlun purchased a 200-acre estate in Virginia and named it Salamander, after his old underground name. Later, after selling Salamander Farm, he retired to Rhode Island to live with his family.
The farm’s name was subsequently changed, but when Sheila Johnson purchased the estate she expressed interest in renaming the property. In addition to finding Sundlun’s story inspiring, Johnson discovered that the salamander has symbolized strength, courage and fortitude—traits she has identified with throughout her personal and business life.
Sundlun granted permission for the name Salamander Farm to be restored to the estate and Johnson continues to expand the use of Salamander in her business: Salamander Hotels & Resorts.