Catherine and I mixed business with pleasure during our recent visit to St. Paul, Minnesota.
We visited three unique B&B’s to introduce ourselves and our business.
The first was the Cathedral Hill Bed and Breakfast (www.bbonthehill.com) owned by Bill Gray. It is located on a quiet street among the elegant turn of the century homes built around St. Paul Cathedral. The interior of the house is a riot of hardwood, as you would expect in this wood-rich region. Bill is currently restoring a copy of the original porch that was torn off sometime mid-twentieth century and repainting the house.
Our next visit as to The New Victorian Mansion Bed and Breakfast (www.newvicbb.com) located almost within shouting distance of St. Paul Cathedral. Owners Andy and Whitney Blessing and their young family literally rescued the house. A brick house built in 1881, it endured several insults to its interior over its lifetime including once serving as a group home. It had sat empty for some time when the Blessing’s purchased it. A general contractor by trade, Andy oversaw the rebuilding of the interior including adding 21st century amenities. The new amenities quietly blend in with the 19th century charm. You don’t even notice them until you want them – my idea of a successful renovation.
Both inns are close to the grand Richardson Romanesque mansions on Summit Avenue and the shopping and night-life of Grand Avenue.
My personal favorite was the Covington Inn (www.covingtoninn.com). The Covington Inn is a converted tug boat moored on the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. Owner, Liz Miller, showed us the four compact guest rooms on the boat. I suspect staying at the Covington Inn is quite an adventure. The “mighty” Mississippi is a relatively narrow river in St. Paul and the attractions of down town St. Paul are a short walk across the river from the Covington Inn.
FYI: The Covington Inn is for sale. Liz, after owning the inn for 10 years, is ready to move to a warmer climate.
Meeting B and B owners is always a pleasure, but there was something else: We were in St. Paul for Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion radio show in the historic Fitzgerald Theater. My brother and college roommate and their wives came from Iowa to join us. Between the inns, the show and Craig and Jon, it was a delightful weekend.