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It was never a dream: How I became an innkeeper: 1st in a series of three

Updated on June 16, 2009

a series of articles on being an innkeeper in the third largest preservation area in the country

I never planned on being an innkeeper. In fact, I never wanted to be in business. And furthermore, I had no idea that running a bed and breakfast was "being in business".

I was a teacher in Chicago for thirty years or so. I loved teaching; started out studying art, then music, then English composition. Ended up teaching art, music and creative writing. So, I was always using my left brain. doing tons of creative things and loving it. The thought of switching to my right brain and going into business was not very appealing.

When it came time for me to retire, I knew I couldn't stay in Chicago. It was way too expensive for someone on a teacher's pension. So, I started scouting around for places to live that I could afford. I looked at San Diego, where my sister lives, Austin, TX; my youngest daughter lives there, and Louisville, KY, where I had a teacher friend. I decided on Louisville. It was the cheapest place to settle, and it was a friendly town, laid back, with lots of awesome restaurants and plenty of cultural activities.

I had visited my teacher friend, in Louisville, several times before making the decision to move there. When it came time to look for a house, she was the logical person to help me. She contacted a real estate agent in "Old Louisville", the area I finally decided upon, and we set about finding the perfect house. It didn't take long. I found a 3-story brick historic Victorian home that I really loved. The only problem was that it was 4028 square foot of house and had five bedrooms. I lived alone. What was I going to do with five bedrooms?

This is the question I asked my friend as we stood face to face in the parlor, in front of the charming original 1882 fireplace and under the beautiful original gaslight chandelier. This house was awesome. I had to have it, stained glass and all. "Why don't you open a bed and breakfast?" she answered. "Hey! That'd be fun." I replied, not having the slightest idea what a bed and breakfast was all about. And no inkling that it was indeed a business. And that's when I made the decision to do something I knew absolutely nothing about; something, about which I had a very romantic notion.

I bought the house, although I was still teaching in Chicago, and commuted for three months until the end of the school year. I would come down every week-end and shop. I shopped for mattresses, bed frames, linens, towels, china, crystal and antique silverware. I had none of these things, except my old worn-out bed in Chicago. I wanted my bed and breakfast to be classy, beautiful, and in keeping with the Victorian era. I continued shopping for an entire year. It took that long to turn this beautiful single family dwelling into the B&B I now imagined in my dreams. I only had a few antiques in my small condo in Chicago, two fairly new matching sofas, some end tables and a few area rugs. The rest I had to buy. And buy I did.

(next installment: "One day I woke up and I was an Innkeeper")


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