Bed and Breakfasts Preserving American History – one building, one story at a time
It is an understated role bed and breakfast owners across our great nation play in restoring and maintaining not only the physical historic homes and buildings but also documenting and sharing their importance in our history.
For example, the John Rutledge House Inn in Charleston, South Carolina, makes it possible for bed and breakfast guests to stay in the same home where George Washington once dined. And in the stately ballroom located on the top floor of this Bed & Breakfast is where Mr. Rutledge himself wrote first drafts of the constitution he later signed. Many innkeeper owners have lovingly restored these homes to the splendor of their day while discreetly adding in modern amenities for today’s bed and breakfast guests. So while you may sleep in an antique 18th century bed and bathe in a claw foot bathtub, you will probably have a plush pillow top mattress, wireless Internet access and your own private luxurious bathroom to enhance your stay.
The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast located in Virginia is the epitome of the owners’ commitment to preserving a southern historic home. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains the town of Lynchburg is home to 7 area colleges as well as this magnificent brick 1878 Italianate Mansion which owners Kathy & Mike Bedsworth have just spent 4 years restoring. After stripping ten layers of paint from the original woodwork, after repairing plaster walls, after refinishing antique sinks and tubs these bed and breakfast owners can claim a brand new set of skills! And now Kathy will be creating some stained glass pieces for the windows. With all this restoration they did not neglect the wishes of today’s travelers so you will find central air and heating, wireless Internet access alongside hardwood floors, coal burning fireplaces and brass light fixtures.
One of Georgia’s premier bed and breakfast establishments, the Whitaker-Huntingdon Inn faces the historic 1853 fountain in beautiful Forsyth Park in Savannah. Whereas this 32 acre city park offers great places to walk and views of the moss laden Live Oak trees, the inside of this bed and breakfast maintains the early design features of the housing dating back to 1883. Current owners Bill and Debbie Saxman spent over two decades painting and restoring the inn as they raised their children. They opened for business as a bed and breakfast in 1995 and the rooms now showcase the 12 foot ceilings and original heart pine floors of this era. These innkeepers have also gathered quite the collection of stories of past tenants and will gladly give any guests a brief history lesson and tour.
Mississippi offers Victorian Southern Comfort in the Devereaux Shields House B&B. This Queen Ann Victorian bed and breakfast sits quietly on the north side of the Natchez historical district and is a short walk away from stunning views of the grand Mississippi River. Innkeepers Ron & Eleanor Fry note that the main house was named for Lt. Colonel Shields who was a veteran and hero for his exploits in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Built at the turn of the century this bed and breakfast offers 6 spacious and well-appointed guest rooms as well as a large veranda for relaxing.
The Albemarle Inn in North Carolina is a Greek revival mansion which owners Cathy and Larry Sklar returned to its full elegance. Cathy says: “We retained an 85 year old master wood craftsman to restore the magnificent oak wainscoting and intricately carved stairway so that it now glows with the warmth of its 100 years.” Situated in the famous Grove Park district of Asheville this award winning B&B is framed by the English gardens they lovingly created, admittedly the most satisfying aspect of the restoration process.
And Washington DC is home to the Embassy Circle Guest House with an unusual renovation story. This bed and breakfast began, as many do, as a private residence 100 years ago. Starting in 1947 it became the Taiwanese Embassy for 40 years and then sat abandoned for 15 years before current owners Laura and Raymond Saba began their painstaking restoration. Besides facing a building that was on the verge of collapse, they had to undertake an extensive community outreach program to gain the support for turning this elegant structure into a bed and breakfast business. Then the real work began. Raymond said it took six men 6 months to re-lay almost all of the interior brick using antique bricks that matched the original ones. Meticulous attention to details throughout this extensive restoration process is what enchants guests today.
There are more than 15,000 historic inns and bed and breakfasts that have been restored and preserved by innkeeper owners with their own private funds. And these historic buildings, so integral to our communities, are not set behind closed doors, but open to adventurous travelers who want to experience their visits on a deeper level. Many of the properties listed above are also in the best-selling bed and breakfast guidebook Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns with a Buy-One-Night-Get-One-Night-Free Certificate.
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