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Published: Saturday, 5/13/2006

Bed and breakfasts: Area lodgings offer guests a change of pace

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Three couples visiting from Canada settle in for breakfast at the Georgian Manor Inn.  Three couples visiting from Canada settle in for breakfast at the Georgian Manor Inn.
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So you want to get away for a few days, nothing major, just a chance to refresh and recharge.

If the prospect of a high-rise hotel and a view that includes an asphalt parking lot or the side of another building doesn t hold much appeal, how about a bed and breakfast? B and B s, as they are called, often offer a plush room in which to relax, a gourmet meal to start the day, and an opportunity to interact with innkeepers who have a personal interest in their guests happiness.

A quick search on the Internet brings up plenty of B-and-B options for Toledoans who are heading in any direction or want to get away but stay close to home. Web sites used in the search include www.lanierbb.com, www.bbonline.com, and www.ohiobba.com.

Here is a representative sample of lodgings, chosen mostly for their location.

Norwalk, Ohio, wouldn t seem like much of a destination, but Gene Denney disagrees. Mr. Denney and his wife, Judy, own the Georgian Manor Inn, a B and B in a century-old home on Norwalk s historic West Main Street.

He points to a wide range of activities within easy driving or walking distance, from the obvious ones such as Cedar Point (25 minutes away), 15 golf courses (5 to 25 minutes away), and Norwalk Raceway Park (10 minutes away) to the less obvious, including a day spa and antiquing in downtown Norwalk (a 15-minute stroll).

When he was about to retire from the corporate world, Mr. Denney said, he and Judy were inspired by a visit to an English manor house, and they decided to run a bed and breakfast. Judy likes to cook, and I like gardening, and we both like people, he said.

Their 27-room home offers four guest rooms with private baths, five public rooms, two patios, and two porches overlooking Mr. Denney s pride, his beautifully landscaped grounds.

We have people who have flown in from Arizona just to go to Cedar Point, Mr. Denney said. But most people coming here want to celebrate anniversaries or special occasions.

Mr. Denney is justifiably proud of the fact that, of the 10 lodgings in Ohio to receive a four-diamond award from AAA, his is the only small B and B to do so.

The Georgian Manor, 123 West Main St., Norwalk, is a nonsmoking facility and limits its guests to adults. Those seeking information may call on the toll-free telephone line, 800-668-1644, or check out the Web site,www.georgianmanorinn.com.

Blissfield, Mich., is known for its many antique shops and the Hathaway House restaurant, which has recently reopened, and it s a great base for easy drives to Adrian s Croswell Opera House, Tecumseh s British Pantry, and even the Irish Hills.

One of the newest guest houses is owned by Mary Fenwick and Walt Gable, who started welcoming visitors to the Blissfield Bed and Breakfast in November.

The couple, who intend to celebrate the B and B s first wedding their own this summer, are still remodeling parts of their century-old house, which originally was the first funeral home in Blissfield, Ms. Fenwick said.

Interested guests can see pieces of the home s past, including a photograph from 1905 that the couple bought on ebay.com and coffin cases, the boxes in which coffins were shipped to funeral homes, that were found in the home. They are incredibly ornate, almost works of art, Ms. Fenwick said.

The theme for the Blissfield Bed and Breakfast is experience the world one room at a time. Ms. Fenwick has decorated each of the three guest rooms in a travel theme: Paris, the Tropics, and the Far East; the common rooms are decorated in a Tuscany style.

The Blissfield Bed and Breakfast is at 420 West Adrian St., Blissfield. Information is available by calling 517-486-2878 or on the Internet at www.blissfieldbandb.com.

Want a B and B with a touch of glamour? How about the movies? The Carole Lombard House in Fort Wayne, Ind., might be up your alley.

Ms. Lombard was a well-known comedic actress in the 1930s and 40s. She married Clark Gable in 1939 and three years later was killed in a plane crash while returning to Hollywood from a war bond rally in Indiana. But before all that, she was a girl named Jane Alice Peters who was born in Fort Wayne in 1908 in a house built by her grandfather.

That was turned into a bed and breakfast by Bev and David Fiandt, and among their many guests were Cora and Rick Brandt.

Mr. Brandt is a Fort Wayne native, and he and Cora, whom he met while stationed with the Navy in the Philippines, often stayed in the home when they visited family. When they learned the B and B was up for sale in 2003, they bought it.

There s plenty to do in Fort Wayne, Mr. Brandt said, including shopping, antiquing, sporting events, and an interactive science center. Guests may come and go as they please, and they re welcome just to stay at the house and relax.

We re very casual, and we tend to spoil our guests.

The Lombard House has five guest rooms, all decorated in the style of the 1930s, and there are several common areas, including a living room, dining room, breakfast nook, and library. Smoking is not allowed in the home, but children are welcome. Rooms include complimentary broadband and WiFi service.

About 100 miles west of Toledo, the Carole Lombard House is at 704 Rockhill St. in a historic area of Fort Wayne called the West-Central Neighborhood, a few blocks from downtown.

Information is available by calling 888-426-9896 or going to www.carolelombardhouse.com on the Internet.

There s a bit of movie-star glamour close to the HideAway Country Inn in Bucyrus, Ohio, too. It s about a 30-minute drive from Malabar Farms, which is where Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart got married.

Debbie Miller, who owns the HideAway with her husband, Steve, offered that bit of trivia, but she s more interested in treating her guests like stars.

The HideAway is not technically a bed and breakfast, which is generally considered five rooms or fewer in a private residence, serving only the first meal of the day. A country inn is the next step up: six or more rooms, multiple meals, big enough for corporate events or weddings, and the availability of more luxurious amenities.

Along with four guest rooms, the HideAway offers eight suites, each about 800 square feet with whirlpool tubs big enough for two people. One of Mrs. Miller s favorite suites is the Tree House, which has an open balcony that wraps around a 100-year-old oak tree. There s a wall of windows the kind where you can see out but not in so you can leave the drapes open and see the most incredible sunrise.

We offer a bed-and-breakfast option in all our rooms and suites, she said, but more amenities are available, such as gourmet dinners in the dining room on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, a couples massage package, and gourmet picnic baskets.

The HideAway Country Inn is at 1601 State Rt. 4, Bucyrus, Ohio, about 95 miles southeast of Toledo, between Upper Sandusky and Mansfield. Information is available by calling 1-800-570-8233 or online at www.hideawayinn.com.


The Nightingale House on South Wheeling Street in Oregon is among local beds and breakfasts.

The Nightingale House on South Wheeling Street in Oregon is among local beds and breakfasts.
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Sometimes you need a getaway but just don t want to go too far. Toledo and the immediate vicinity have several beds and breakfasts, including the Nightingale House at 525 South Wheeling St. in Oregon.

It s owned by Hope Hastings and her husband, Cecil, who had no intention of running a guest house when, on a whim a few years ago, they attended a real-estate open house at the home.

We just wanted to see the inside of the house, Mrs. Hastings said. A week later, we owned it.

Mrs. Hastings is well-versed in the history of the house, which was built in the 1870s by a family named Klotz. It s been used as a family home, a floral distribution center, and then a guest house.

There are three rooms, each with a private bath, and it s an easy drive to downtown Toledo, Maumee Bay State Park, the Toledo Zoo, and other local attractions.

Because she is still working full-time as a teacher, Mrs. Hastings says she and her husband keep their advertising low-key.

We get a lot of newlyweds who make us the first stop on their honeymoon, she said. We re also a popular meeting point for families, some coming east from Chicago and others heading west.

Information on the Nightingale House is available by calling 419-698-2263 or on the Internet at www.nightingalehouseb-b.com.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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