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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

High-style Victorian retreats in SW Pa.

Montgomery Mansion Bed & Breakfast, decorating for Christmas 2001 along the historic National Road in charming Claysville, Pa. (Scott Beveridge photo)

By Karen Mansfield and Scott Beveridge

CLAYSVILLE, Pa. – Some guests at historic Montgomery Mansion Bed & Breakfast have the luxury of relaxing their tense muscles in a shower, whose stall also doubles as a sauna.

“People swear by that. They say, ‘Oh, my God,’” said Shirley Smith, who, along with her husband, Butch, owns the more than 120-year-old, High Victorian house hugging the National Road in tiny Claysville, Pa.

If the suite with the shower and Jacuzzi is occupied, the three-story house offers the Holly Room, with an adjoining bathroom boasting a copper tub beside a rare antique shower complete with jets that pulse the body from all sides.

“It’s supposed to be one of only three or four showers like that in the country,” Shirley Smith said.

There is one just like it in Henry Clay Frick’s Clayton in Pittsburgh and at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, she said.

The Montgomery Mansion isn’t the only bed and breakfast in Washington County, Pa., that offers couples a relaxing retreat. Grammy Rose’s and Rush House are both on East Maiden Street in Washington, and Cabin Fever Inn Bed & Breakfast sits on 20 wooded acres in Coal Center, 45 minutes from Fallingwater and Ohiopyle State Park.

Grammy Rose’s and Rush House are Victorian-style homes that provide cozy, quiet bedrooms with private baths, fresh breakfasts and easy access to local activities.

Madonna Maroulis, owner of Rush House, said she pampers guests by using crystal and fine linens, providing soft robes and bath products such as bubble bath and scented soaps, and having several books on hand. Fresh roses are found in every bedroom, and wine glasses add a warm touch.

Around Valentine’s Day, Maroulis makes it a point to place chocolate in the rooms.

“It’s a relaxing getaway,” said Maroulis, whose Rush House has a unique 
architectural feature: It was built over a stone-lined creek bed, and the creek still flows through a stone tunnel under the kitchen and dining room. 

Tim and Rose Davis Grammy, owners of Grammy Rose’s, offer warm hospitality, relaxing amenities and all the comforts of home in their inviting bed and breakfast, whose four guestrooms are named after their granddaughters.

Trip Advisor reviews tout Grammy Rose’s hospitality, decor and grounds, which include a gazebo, pond and gardens.

Rose, a former florist, and Tim, a tavern owner, added the gazebo to host small social events, including outdoor weddings and showers.

Cabin Fever is owned by Harry and Linda Torbert, who enjoy hosting guests, especially during special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.

“I think we’re in an ideal location, and it’s very relaxed out here,” said Harry 
Torbert. “Because it’s two bedrooms, we host mostly families, and we are in 
proximity to many activities.”

Robert Porter, a once-prominent lumber mill owner in Claysville, built Montgomery Mansion in the 1870s to show off his woodworking skills in the ornate house trim trade.

“He wanted to make it as fancy as he could,” said Butch Smith, referring to the mansion that has been called one of the most-recognized houses along the two-lane road also known as Route 40.

John Nelson Montgomery Jr. eventually took possession of the house in 1906, and it remained in his family for decades.

Today, with a fully restored and partially renovated interior, the house features hand-stamped period wallpaper, 14-carat gold stenciling, and mantels and trim constructed with rare wood.

Each morning the Smiths serve their guests a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, 
sausage, waffles, Danish, juices and fresh fruit.

(This story first appeared in the January, February 2012 issued of Living Washington County, a magazine published by the Observer-Reporter)

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