Cleaning 2

On our last day in PA, our friends at Forgotten Seasons B&B invited us over for breakfast so we could see what that was like. (We would have gladly made breakfast and cleaned the rooms just to see what that was like, too, but don’t tell them that.)

It was a very productive week. We moved all of the junk into a storage unit (although I’m not happy about paying to keep junk in storage) and I cleaned out the paymaster’s office a little. (I stress “I” because Dawn managed to get poison ivy, and so was out of commission the last day.



We met with our contractor again, who assures us everything is on track but so far he hasn’t talked to any subcontractors except the roofer, hasn’t given us any cost estimates, and doesn’t have a schedule. Now he says he can’t give us an estimate until we hire an architect to draw up the plans. Why he didn’t mention that six months ago is beyond me.

His time “estimate” (off the top of his head) is nine months. If we take care of the roof in the fall, then the crew can work inside all winter, and we can open next July. That seems like a tight squeeze, but either we open in July 2005 or we open in March 2006 – there’s no point in opening during the winter. So we’re really pushing for the October start date.

TUESDAY, JUNE 08, 2004


We decided to take care of the zoning permit next month, rather than wait until September. I sent in the application and bought a plane ticket. Dawn can’t take any more time off work, so I’m on my own.

TUESDAY, JUNE 08, 2004


We have a new wrinkle in our plans: We need to own the property.

The historic tax credits can only go to the owner, they are not transferable, and Dawn’s mother doesn’t pay enough tax to take advantage of them, so…we have to be the owners. And we have to be the owners before we start work. If we thought Dawn’s mother was resisting us working on the property, just wait until we spring this one on her.

(Note: tax credits can go to tenants if they have a long-term lease, which I think was defined as 40+ years. We talked to the county engineer who basically said a long-term lease was treated the same as a subdivision, so in addition to a full land development plan, we would have to have road frontage. We discussed a few options but none of them would have cost less than $100,000, so we are not pursuing this option.)

MONDAY, JUNE 07, 2004

Fran Hand

We met Fran Hand, owner of Mount Joy Inn, who gave us a tour of her B&B and told us we needed to have wallpaper, electric fireplaces, and in-room whirlpool baths. The architect has been trying to talk us out this, but he doesn’t run a B&B.


Bill Coleman

Bill Coleman, a direct descendent of Robert Coleman, invited us over to see the Coleman-Stiegel mansion. It is older, larger, and grander than ours, and completely restored. We were green with envy. He even has original portraits of Robert Coleman and Anne Old, but we couldn’t get them off the wall.

When Bill inherited the property ten years ago, he said it was in worse shape than ours. He started Elizabeth Farms Christmas Trees and used the proceeds to restore the house, which was pretty cool. He also said he had a lot of relatives that needed a place to stay around Christmas, so we’ve already got our first customers.

Afterwards, we brought Bill to our place to give him the “before” tour. In the end, he shook his head and asked Dawn if she knew what she was getting into, which was a little unsettling.

TUESDAY, JUNE 01, 2004


We were planning to go to Georgia next week to visit my family, but they cancelled at the last minute, so we re-routed our trip to Pennsylvania. It’s just as well – we’ve got so much to do. In addition to our unceasing efforts to clean the place, we need to meet about ten people to discuss everything from the restoration to the B&B to the tax credits.

While we were coordinating, Dawn’s mom apologized for the condition of the mansion, and I realized that I was actually grateful it was in the shape it was in. If it had been in perfect shape and we just moved in, it would have never felt like my home. By putting so much into it, I’m also making it mine. (Dawn always considered the mansion hers, so she’s annoyed that we’re having to do all this work.)