The Amherst Inn Bed & Breakfast was built in 1877 as a private residence by J.J. Nelson, a local merchant who went on to become one of Wisconsin's most prominent citizens. The Victorian Gothic style house was reported by the Stevens Point Journal to be "by far the handsomest building in the village." With its pitched roofs, ornate barge boards, and finials on the gables, the house was, and still is, recognized as one of the best examples of this style in the area.
J.J. and his wife, Junetta, were renowned for their hospitality. The local newspapers reported that "no one was ever turned away" from their home. They played host to governors, senators, and ambassadors who were delighted to visit. In 1903, J.J. enlarged the house by adding the tower and building a new rear wing. Improvements included installing a hot water heating system, new plumbing, electric lights, and three glazed brick fireplaces. Much of the old woodwork was replaced with golden oak and a large veranda was added to the front of the house. The old kitchen wing was moved to the rear of the lot to become a guest house and is now a private residence. Most of the oak woodwork and the fireplaces added during 1903 are still in place and add to the charm and ambiance of the house.
After J.J.'s death in 1931, the house was occupied by the Rev. William Corr, pastor of the Amherst Methodist Episcopal Church. Late in 1931, the house was purchased by the Fred Ellingers, who previously owned a "home cooking" hotel in Amherst Junction. They opened it as the Ellinger Hotel, keeping the original appearance and many of the furnishings. Under their ownership, the hotel became a popular place to stay. Grace Ellinger reports that she once served dinner to John Dillinger in the current living room (then used as the hotel's dining room). He left her a $5 tip, which she never forgot.
In 1944, the hotel was sold to the C.R. Tapins and reopened as the Sunset Lodge or Sunset Hotel .
The Walter Nivens', local farmers who saw a notice for a public auction, purchased the hotel in 1950. There were very few people present at the auction and bidding was slow. Even though the Nivens' had no intention of bidding, the auctioneer offered the entire property to them at a bargain price. Upon reminiscing, Mrs. Niven remembered that many of the guests were faithful patrons. They came from as far away as Florida to fish in the area and to attend the Amherst Fair. She kept many mementos, including several pieces of furniture and the old hotel register. She noted that the rooms were as little as $2 a night back then.
John and Philomae Kedrowski purchased the hotel in 1956 and reopened it as a nursing home. It continued as a nursing home until the mid-1960's when it became a room & board hotel. During their ownership, the two rooms on the south side were added. After Mae's death, the house was inherited by her brother and remained vacant for almost ten years.
In 1992, the present owners, Tom Ashline and Bob Rausch, were looking for a business opportunity and saw an advertisement for the property in the Los Angeles Times. Tom's family, who live in Wisconsin, made the initial visit and sent photos. Tom and Bob flew back to see the house, immediately fell in love with it, and made an offer to purchase it that day. In the summer of 1994, the task of restoring the building to the 1903 era began. Plans include registering the house as a historical landmark.
The Amherst Inn Bed & Breakfast
opened for business in June of 1995 and has entertained guests ever
since, even as the restoration continues. The grounds contain many trees
and flower beds from J.J. and Junetta's time, including a magnificent
towering maple tree which draws photographers in the fall when it is
in it's golden glory. The Inn also is reported to have a "friendly spirit"
who dislikes disorder although she sometimes moves things from their
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Sun, 15-Feb-2015 10:31
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