WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2004

PHMC

Carol Lee and June Evans of the PHMC did a site visit. The PHMC is the SHPO for the NPS. (Okay, in english: The Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission is the State Historic Preservation Office for the National Park Service, who administers the National Register of Historic Places.) They agreed that the mansion and its “supporting buildings” (the summer kitchen, paymaster’s office, and outhouse – yes, outhouse) could be listed by itself.

Several people, including our contractor, warned us that the PHMC would make all sorts of unreasonable demands. (Some even told us we’d be better off doing the work first and asking forgiveness later!) Well, I’m happy to say, nothing could be further from the truth. As Barb explained, the National Register understands not all buildings can be museums, and so they have no problem with us adding bathrooms. In fact, between the county permits and the National Register listing, it looks like we significantly over-estimated the time we needed.

SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2004

Appraisal

We met Anne Kearney, an appraiser, who told us most of the furniture was from the 1920s, except for a couple of pieces that were 1880s. The kicker, though, was that the hall chandelier – which we’d always been told was Stiegel glass – was really Victorian art glass. Funny how your perspective changes when you find out something is “only” 120 years old! (18th century Stiegel glass was made by Baron Stiegel, a local ironmaster, and is highly collectible.)

THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2004

Elizabeth Township

We met Rita Snavely, the township zoning officer, and Amos Miller, the township sewage enforcement office (what a title). Rita told us we need to appear before the zoning commission to get an exemption in order to operate a B&B in a rural zone, and they only meet once a month. The only time our vacation schedule overlaps is in September, but as long as we’re done by October, that should be fine.

Amos told us we needed to test the existing septic systems and, if they fail, we need to replace them. Well, we already planned on replacing them (they’re all 40+ years old), so no need to do anything there.

And that’s it! I already spoke with the state about food service and alcohol permits, and we don’t need anything there. I love this small-town atmosphere; California would have buried us under permits (and fees). The only thing we have to deal with – this is a big unknown – is the new building code, and the occupancy permit at the end.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2004

Conference

The PAII conference was pretty good, although its a long drive to Rhode Island. T. Scott Gross (author of “Positively Outrageous Service”) gave the keynote speech, and he could make shoveling dirt sound interesting. We split up so we could cover more workshops, from historic restoration to gay-friendly marketing. The Pine Hurst Inn, in Wisconsin, had a presentation on “green” B&Bs which I found inspirational.

We also tried to meet with the owners of two other B&Bs in Lancaster, but they both seemed quite hostile. This was our first negative experience, which was too bad. (Even more disappointing that they both belong to an association that’s supposed to foster cooperation.)

THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2004

Business Plan

I’ve been working on our business plan, and realized I don’t know the first thing about business plans. The first draft is over 60 pages long, complete with a cleaning schedule and suggested recipes. I think I should pare it down a bit. (It also says we can be profitable in our first year, so I know something is wrong…)

SUNDAY, APRIL 04, 2004

Straw Poll

I took an email poll of all my friends on how they book lodging. (Talk about a large margin of error!) What I found, however, was that none of my friends stay at B&Bs. I definitely have my work cut out for me. I also made up some business cards and logo shirts for the conference. (Again, printed on my home computer.) For some odd reason, I put “Speedwell Forge Mansion” instead of “Speedwell Forge B&B.” Maybe years from now these will be collectors’ items, like “Revenge of the Jedi” t-shirts.