Stanford couple turns old house into antique shop and bed and breakfast

January 12, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

Mary and Ray Middleton set out to open an antique shop last year and ended up with the community's only bed and breakfast as well.

After renting space in various antique malls for several years, the Middletons decided to invest in an antique shop of their own where Mary Middleton could display and sell her antiques and collectibles. They settled on a house at 612 Lancaster St., a couple of blocks from downtown Stanford.

Built in 1937, the old house wasn't much to look at. It was "very rundown" and had been broken up into two apartments, Mary Middleton said. The kitchen in one of the apartments had burned and contained a "foot of standing water."

Yet, the house appealed to Mary Middleton, who runs the Stanford Renaissance Main Street Program.

"I saw the woodwork and the fireplaces and the mantels, and I said, 'Ray, we can save this...'"

Like most people setting out to restore an old house, the Middletons underestimated what the project would cost by two or three times, but they gained valuable experience. They repaired plaster walls, replaced the floors, put in new electrical wiring and new plumbing, installed a heat pump and tore off the old burned-out kitchen and replaced with it a new room.


"We completely renovated it but preserved as much as we could," Mary Middleton said. "The neighbors on this street have all thanked us for restoring this place. That's kind of the attitude of the whole town ... just real supportive and cooperative."

During the eight-month restoration project, the Middletons expanded their concept of opening just an antique shop into including a bed and breakfast.

"It started out as an antique shop, but as we were restoring the home we decided we wanted to keep it as a home," Mary Middleton said. "I hate to see old homes destroyed. The memories of the families that lived there, all that is gone."

The result of the Middletons' decision was a 50 percent increase - from four to six - in the number of overnight rooms available in Stanford. "Stanford really needs a motel," said Middleton, who said the only other rooms available in town are four at the Sunset Motel.

In October, the Middletons opened Middleton Place Bed & Breakfast, Antiques & Collectibles - a place where guests can spend the night and shop for antiques at the same time.

Mary Middleton said that because of the scarcity of available rooms in town - as well the comfortable living the B & B provides - the bed and breakfast's two bedrooms have been rented pretty frequently by people coming home for family reunions, by visiting business people, by boyfriends and other visitors to town.

The bed and breakfast, which charges $79 or $69, depending upon which bedroom visitors stay in, offers breakfast, of course, but Middleton also stresses its closeness to various activities and historic exhibits downtown, such as the restored L&N Depot and Museum, a walking trail, Gabriel's Restaurant and monthly "Car Cruises" on Main Street during the summer months. The Middletons also will set up a "fire pit" in the one-acre lot behind the house for guests to enjoy in the summer.

And there are Mary Middleton's antiques, which she describes as "a little bit of everything. I buy what I like."

The antique shop is open Wednesday through Sunday and is staffed by Mary Bodner Adams, who ran a store in Moreland many years ago and through her connections in the Hustonville area also has helped attract lodgers to the B & B.

Mary Middleton says the business has been a "family affair." Her son, Jason, designed the sign out front and her brother, Danny Gilliam, built and painted it. She's also enjoyed the chance to work on the project with her husband, who owns Pro-Track Performance, a business that sells high-performance race car parts.

"It's just something Ray and I can do together," Middleton said. "We've had two different careers in two different directions. As we slow down a little bit, this is something we can enjoy doing together."

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