Oregon couple breathing new life into Guilford Bed and Breakfast
GUILFORD — The stunning Guilford Bed and Breakfast sits in storybook fashion at the top of a hill in Guilford. For the past decade and a half it was owned, operated and lovingly cared for by Harland and Isobel Young who, after devoting years of their lives to the B&B, decided in 2014 that they were ready to invest in something else – their retirement, their marriage and their family. It had been a rewarding season for them, a wonderful chapter in their lives but they felt it was time to close the book and begin writing a new story.
Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce Director Denise Buzzelli explains, “Harland seemed a bit heavy-hearted with the concept of selling after pouring so much of his heart into the beautiful B&B. It was very important to him that the next owners would love the property as he had, so that every careful improvement and restoration he made would not have been in vain.”
Now, over five years later, Harland’s wishes have finally come to pass.
Though potential buyers expressed interest in the property over the years, for one reason or another the “right buyer” never came along and the Youngs were growing discouraged. What they didn’t know is that over 3,000 miles and 50 hours away, there was a couple about to embark on a journey that would lead them to Harland and Isobel’s front door.
All the way from the lush Willamette Valley in Oregon, Michael and Wendy Denney operated a successful AIRBNB from their 1926 Craftsman. Catering to guests filled the space between Wendy’s graphic design projects, her fiction writing and entertaining for friends. The Denneys both truly enjoyed hosting and wanted to expand, but opportunities to purchase a historic mansion of sorts in their price range in the Pacific Northwest proved impossible. When Michael received the okay from his employer to work remotely, the Denneys knew they could begin their search for the perfect opportunity.
For the next year, Zillow became an ally in their pursuit as they searched over hundreds of miles and through dozens of states to find the geographic location in which they could see themselves living. In February the Denneys embarked on a nine-day road-trip, stopping to check out the 17 homes on their list which they believed might fit their needs. The trek began outside of Pittsburgh and continued through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and finally, Maine; and yes, as luck would have it, the last house on their list was the Guilford Bed and Breakfast.
Fate had saved the best for last.
Michael and Wendy returned to Oregon, sold their home in April, and one week later, purchased and moved into the iconic 1900s post-Victorian mansion on the hill in snow-covered Guilford with their beloved pup, Snickers.
Why such a drastic change? “To fulfill a dream, of course,” Wendy replies, as a matter of fact.
The Denneys are already planning to make several upgrades to the property, but they also want to bring new life to their corner of Guilford in other creative ways. Of course, the property at 24 Elm Street will re-open for business on May 15 and continue to operate successfully as a thriving B&B, but Wendy wants to make it a place where those who live in the surrounding communities can come for special gatherings.
With so many plans in mind, she can’t wait to implement one idea in particular, to host “An Evening with an Artist” (think 1900s) on the last Wednesday of each month; featuring one specific artist. Wendy envisions a relaxed environment with refreshments, where folks can get lost in the beauty of music, art and literature while learning and asking questions. The challenge, she says, is connecting with those local artists. Who are they? Where are they?
Anyone interested in participating in this monthly event should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Seating will be limited and reservations will be required. Event dates and times will be posted at piscataquischamber.com/events and guilfordbnb.com.
Michael and Wendy have joined the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce and look forward to building strong relationships with surrounding chamber business members. The Chamber will host a member-only open house at the Guilford Bed and Breakfast on Friday, May 10 from 6-8 p.m. Guests can expect light refreshments, homemade treats and door prizes. Please call 564-7533 to RSVP.