New Windsor mansion to become bed-and-breakfast

March 26, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Stop to see what is happening at 111 Springdale Ave. in New Windsor and the homeowner might hand you a paintbrush.

Joan V. Bradford is scraping and painting the walls and converting the century-old mansion into the town's first bed-and-breakfast operation.

"I'll recruit anybody who comes by," Ms. Bradford said.

"I put paintbrushes in anybody's hand. I have conscripted my husband, my kids and anyone who can use a brush," she said.

She also has had to hire professional painters. Crews soon will coat the graying clapboard exterior with a soft, welcoming yellow and make the pillars on the wrap-around porch glisten white.

Ms. Bradford said she and her business partner, Julie Flaherty, hope to open the Yellow Turtle Inn this summer.

"I have shared this vision with Joan, but she was the one who made it happen," Ms. Flaherty said. "I am sharing the work with Joan, but she has by far carried the most of it."

"Elbow grease" works best, said Ms. Bradford, who is tackling much of the interior work. "We don't have to pay ourselves."

The three-story mansion, recently a private residence, will be restored to the tourist attraction it was 60 years ago.

"In the 1930s, families came to town on the train and stayed the summer here," Ms. Bradford said. "We are bringing it back to its original intent."

The brushes will be stored long before the first guest arrives and then the pampering will begin.

Since January, the partners have worked tirelessly at renovating the building, part of which dates to 1840.

"The original house was a log cabin, built of logs rolled from a house three miles away and reassembled here," Ms. Bradford said.

The partners will add several 1990s touches: bathrooms with Jacuzzis and an office with a computer and fax machine.

They also will preserve amenities, such as hardwood floors, claw-footed bathtubs, an oversized kitchen fireplace and an elaborately carved oak staircase, where a metal turtle rests on the bottom step.

Ms. Bradford marvels at the workmanship that went into the home.

"They even made the radiators ornate works of art," she said.

With the help of a "bargain shopping angel," Ms. Bradford has combed auctions and flea markets, where she has found many antiques to complement the decor.

"Joan has an incredible sense of what would look right and immediately knows where it belongs," Ms. Flaherty said.

Guests will have full run of the house including the parlor, tearoom, library and music salon.

From window seats, they will be able to look out on acres of rolling farmland or gaze at the stars through a telescope.

In warm weather, visitors can loll by a mosaic-tiled pool or walk around the 2.5-acre, landscaped property.

"I am a compulsive tree planter," Ms. Bradford said.

On warm evenings, dinner for two will be served occasionally at the top of the house -- on the widow's walk.

Employees will be outfitted in period dress, from Ms. Bradford's other business, the Costume Shoppe in Westminster.

The innkeepers promise to do all they can to make their guests forget their otherwise busy lives and hectic schedules.

"Like the turtle, people can withdraw for a while into a safe world and relax," said Ms. Bradford.

Ms. Flaherty said she foresees "rejuvenating, recharging weekends.

"We are going to pamper our guests so that they won't want to go home and they will want to come back."

The partners hope to schedule group conferences and business meetings.

"We can focus on cohesive groups," said Ms. Bradford. "I see many new ideas coming from here."

Ms. Flaherty, director of Carroll Hospice, would like to bring lecturers and authors on health-related topics to the Yellow Turtle Inn.

Just for fun, they plan Dickens, Poe and mystery weekends.

Most guest rooms have private baths. The second floor will include five bedrooms; two are complete suites.

The third floor will add another five bedrooms and probably an apartment for an innkeeper.

Although the business still must clear a few municipal zoning hurdles, Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. sees no major roadblocks.

A public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Hall. The Town Council will vote on the proposal April 5.

"We need this business," the mayor said. "There is nothing like this anywhere around and it will elevate our town."

The business partners declined to estimate the money involved in the venture.

The mayor paraphrased an adage, which says, "If you start out with a large fortune, you might make a small fortune at a bed-and-breakfast."

Once she has the house in order, Ms. Bradford will tackle several other projects.

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