This year is the 15th anniversary of the Dominion House B&B. Where does the time go? We did not know what to expect when we opened but has been an adventure and a lot of fun. We have met wonderful people from all over the world. We started going to B&B’s ourselves when our children graduated college. It was a experience we enjoyed and continued, looking for B&B’s when we traveled. As time went on we talked about what a great B&B our home would make. Friends of our encouraged us since they were opening one in a nearby town. We were out in the country and did not understand how our guests would find us. Of course they said ” the internet”. Fifteen year ago I think we had dial up and did not understand the whole internet revolution. We still struggle today since things change so fast. Our home was built in 1880 and has all the original charm of that era. The Strong family built the house and did not sell it until the early forty’s. It was sold with most of the original furnishings which we still have today. It was owned by two families in the forty’s and then Joe’s parent bought it 1952. We were told the house was used as a boarding house in the forty’s so maybe this is not the first time there has been a anniversary for receiving guests. The house is very well preserved.
15th anniversary for B&B but 135 years for the house.
Our guests enjoy all the original features, such as plaster cornices, ornate medallions , high ceilings, wide plank floors and marble mantels. The main parlor has an original Eastlake Victorian parlor set and a Chickering square grand piano from 1873. The bedrooms in the main house, all have bedrooms sets that were also left with the house. Having a B&B has brought us some unique experiences. In 2006 we were featured on an HGTV program called ” If Walls Could Talk”. They did what they called an appaisel episode because of all the antiques in the house. Most times someone buys an old building and finds something they didn’t know about but with us everything was in plain site. The most treasured are the field drawings from when the house was built. They are remarkable for they had no computers at the time. They had to be all hand drawn. In 2012 we were used for a movie shoot for ” The Happy House”. It was a dark comedy about a young couple visiting a B&B for a weekend to reconnect. Things go awry right for the beginning. The production took over the house for 2 1/2 weeks. It truly was a fun and stressful time. The amount of equipment they need is just mind blowing. We were lucky the David [writer and director] and Judith [ the producer] were such great people. They were so considerate of respecting our property and leaving it as they found it. We have heard not all movie crews are like that. Recently we had another short film shoot and a few fashion shoots also. All being interesting experiences. We have so many guests who say their dream is to own a B&B. Just be prepared for as much as we enjoy it , it is also a lot of work. We figure to keep the house we always have work to do on it anyway so we let it earn it’s own way. We hope all guests enjoy there time here. We know we enjoy meeting guests and getting to know them. We have a couple that have come back every year for their anniversary which they celebrated 12 years last year and now they bring their two boys with them.
Fall farm markets and festivals are the highlight of the year in the Hudson Valley. Before becoming innkeepers, we always knew we lived in a beautiful area of New York State but never realized pumpkins and apples were a tourist attraction. The autumn is beautiful and a great time of year, enjoying the crisp mornings and the changing colors. It’s tradition for many families to come to pick apples, go the a corn maze or take a cruise on the Hudson River to enjoy the colors.
Orange Tourism has a wonderful events calendar on their site which helps stay in the know on Fall events. Go to www.orangetourism.org for their calendar. All the info you may want is on this site.
Farm Markets are really just priceless at this time of year. The fresh produce abounds all over the county. They open in June and continue on through October. You can find them on the Orange Tourism site under attractions and then farm markets. There are just too many to name.
Orange County has been hosting the Renaissance Fair in Sterling Forest for many years. It runs weekends through 9/21. September 13 is the Monroe Cheese Festival. Did you know Velveeta cheese originated on Monroe NY? Just a little trivia. Bear Mountain has Octoberfest weekends 9/13 through 10/26. Great place to enjoy Fall colors. Grape Stomping at the Brotherhood Winery begins weekends in September and goes through all of October. Warwick Dairy Farm Tours start 9/28 – 10/26. A great family day out. The largest festival is Warwick’s Applefest 10/5 starting at 10AM. It brings in thousands every year. Sugar Loaf Craft Village holds their annual fall festival 10/11 being Columbus Day weekend it is a very popular destination for weekend trips.
Love those sunsets.
These are just some high lights of fall in the Hudson Valley. Great farm markets are still open, with many family activities to enjoy. We hope you will think about taking time to enjoy the fall and all it has to offer for weekend get aways.
Land a helicopter, seriously!
Just before Memorial Day 2013 we received an interesting call from a potential guest. He had a questions which I passed on to Joe [he happens to be a general aviation pilot]. Question was ” May I have permission to land my helicopter on your property and stay for the night”. Guests have come to the Dominion House by car, train, taxi, motorcycle, bicycle but this was the first helicopter. Evidently helicopters can land just about anywhere with the landowners permission.
We have had allot of interesting things happen at the Dominion House but this goes to the top of the list. You don’t expect a helicopter in your back yard everyday. Joe being a pilot himself was very excited he hoped for a ride and his birthday was on Memorial Day so it would really make his day.
Joe’s birthday ride.
Avi came in on Sunday night. Notice the windsock on top of the garden shed, Joe put it together the night before to aid Avi with his landing of the helicopter. It was a first for the Dominion House in Blooming Grove, maybe a first for the whole town. The next morning Joe flew with Avi over to Orange County Airport [MGJ] to fuel the helicopter for his return trip back home on Long Island.
One of the most interesting parts of this weekend was how small the world really is. Avi learned to fly in the Israel army but had been in the USA for many years. Another couple that morning were here for one night before they flew back to Israel after their holiday here in the states. Needless the say Avi struck up a conversation being fellow Israel’ s . It turns out they were from the same village. The rest of the morning they talked and caught up with news from Israel. As we said it’s a small world when three people from a far away country meet up at the Dominion House in the Hudson Valley by chance.
The Dominion House history is very interesting. It was built in 1880 by a family deep in Orange County history. The Strong family settled in the area in the 1700’s. They were involved in forming the town and were involved in the revolutionary war. The house has three corner stones, 1880, 1786 and 1776. There could be many reasons for this. We can only surmise what they could be. In that era house fires were common. Many times when a residence was destroyed a cornerstone from the old homestead was used in the new house foundation.
“A taste of elegant country living”
Benjamin Strong, who built the house was a farmer and he must have been a profitable one. There are 2400 square feet on each floor, decorative mouldings, plaster cornices and medallions are all original. What a house to heat in 1880 with 11.5 ft. ceilings. The heat was provided by parlor stoves instead of open fire places. This was very progressive for the time. To add to the charm, when the house was sold in the early 40’s by the original owners, most of the furniture was sold with the house. Most of the furniture is still with the house. Parlor furniture, bed room sets and square grand piano remain.
During the time period between 1940 and 1953 a little was known about the use of the house. It was operated as a rooming house. Several of the rooms in the home were divided into two rooms.
The Spear family acquired the house in 1953 to accommodate their large family. The family has tried to preserve all the character of the house from that period. The main parlor with all the antique furniture was off limits except for special occasions and holidays.
In 1981 with their children grown and on their own, Mr. and Mrs. Spear chose to pass the home on to their son Joe and is wife Kathy. Joe and Kathy continued to raise their large family in the home. In 2001 after the second generation of Spear children were grown and on their own, Joe and Kathy decided to pursue their long time dream of turning the home into a Bed and Breakfast. It took a lot of hard work to restore the entire home to it’s original grandeur. Joe’s father found the original hand drawn plans for the home in a dresser drawer. The plans are framed and can be viewed in the upstairs hallway. In 2003 the Dominion House was featured on and HGTV show “If Walls Could Talk”. It was what they called an appraisal episode featuring the existing furniture.
Italian marble mantels though out.
The first thing the guest get when you arrive is a “nickel tour”.
Joe and Kathy do this for several reasons, one is so the guests will know everything that is available to them during their visit. Another is to share the interesting history of the home.
The Dominion House is a lovely and relaxing home to either stay and relax or explore everything the Hudson Valley has to offer. A mix of 1800’s charm with 21 century comfort.
The 19th Annual Bounty of the Hudson will be at the Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville NY [only four miles from the Dominion House B&B] on July 26&27 12- 5 PM. The Bounty of the Hudson is a Shawangunk Wine Trail event that is held each year at a different members winery. A great time to be able to taste wines of the Hudson Valley all in one place in one weekend. Food, music and wine what else could you ask for. For information and tickets go to www.shawangunkwinetrail.com or www.brotherhood-winery.com .
This the 175 year anniversary for the Brotherhood Winery, the oldest continuous operating winery in the country. They have a great tour of their wine cellars and lots of history. Another event planned is their Wine and Sangria Pig roast on August 23. Get your tickets now. Just another great way to spend a weekend in the Hudson Valley.
To all guests,
Please remember it is Summer. I can’t tell you how many guests come here and say “Oh you have a pool, I didn’t bring a suit”.
It is a great summer so far the pool is ready, sparkling and crystal clear. For those who are not familiar with swimming pools ours is a saline pool. It’s like swimming in soft water. No harsh chlorine to irritate your eyes or damage your suit. We changed over several years ago and we are happy we did.
We also have a hot tub which is sanitized the same way, so come and enjoy all our amenities.
Kathy the Innkeeper
Running a Bed and Breakfast or any old house takes allot of time and effort. Our B&B was built in 1880 and it has been in the Spear family for sixty years.
When we opened it as a B&B it was a challenge to keep up with updates as needed. We started with two room with a shared bath. Quickly our one private bath was added and soon after that our private cottage. So now we have three rooms in the main house and the cottage.
In the last two years we have made all the rooms private on suite baths. It has been no easy task. It has made our winters very busy. We hope our guests will notice the effort we have put in to these updates.
I know Joe is happy they are done since he does most of the work. As I said it is no easy task to keep up with it all. Besides the rooms in the main house over the winter we replaced all the flooring in the cottage with new carpet and ceramic tile. We know our return guests and new ones will appreciate the effort.
The amazing thing about old houses is you never know what you will find. In our main front hall it was always carpet. The carpet we put down twenty years ago was getting rather dinghy. We pulled it all up to find original wide plank flooring. The original floor that had never been finished off. Low and behold we had someone come in and sand it down and finish it. We are so pleased with the results, it came out beautiful. Guests have noticed it right off since we did it in April.
We hope as we continue with our improvements that our guests will appreciate the time and effort it takes.
Kathy the Innkeeper