It’s not okay for kids to nod off in class, but for parents who choose schoolhouse B&Bs, naps are practically a requirement. The kids are busy with classes and sports, so parents can now enjoy their own lessons, paying particular attention to the three R’s – rest, relaxation and romance at schoolhouses turned B&Bs. The Better Way To Stay campaign scoured the country for schools-turned-luxury-inn, and found a number that come complete with blackboards for romantic missives and even a few proposals of marriage. Here are 11 great places for some lessons in luxury where history classes are hands on in beautifully preserved former schoolhouse.
School House Inn B&B, Brisbee, AZ: Oak trees were planted to celebrate the opening for the new Garfield school in 1918. Today, what was once a seedling is now a massive oak providing shade for this 8000-square foot former schoolhouse inn. The original steam heat furnace (it has long since been disabled) still remains in the bottom floor of this two-story icon but due to its sheer weight and size, it cannot be removed and stays as a reminder of the school’s former life. You’ll enjoy going back to your favorite class when you stay in rooms with names like the Geography Room, Art Room, and Library Suite. And don’t worry about being sent to the Principal’s Office, it’s now a two-room suite you’ll love to hang around.
Noftsger Hill Inn B&B, Globe, AZ: Originally built in 1907 and closed in 1981, the former elementary school classrooms are now unusually spacious guestrooms, each with a sitting area and many with fireplaces. Former cloakrooms now house palatial bathrooms, and original chalkboards in guest rooms are "decorated" with comments from past guests including former students and teachers. The inn houses a collection of mining era and school memorabilia including class photos, books and desks. Miner-sized breakfasts are served in the kindergarten room. Generations of successful Arizonans were educated here, including Rose Mofford, former Arizona governor.
Carr Manor, Cripple Creek, CO: What was once the Cripple Creek High School is today a delightfully appointed boutique inn, and is one of only two of the original 17 Mining District schools still standing. It served as a school for over 70 years, educating such notables as former Colorado Governor Ralph Carr. The school was first renovated as a small hotel in 1983, then was further restored and enhanced in 2003 by the Ledford family. The manor still retains high ceilings and blackboards in each room on which guests scroll romantic missives and proposals of marriage. The ballroom sports the stage where students performed, and the grand central staircase brings back the days when students scrambled to get to class.
The Davie School Inn, Anna, IL: In 1869, the town of Anna floated bonds to raise the $22,000 needed to build an elegant three-story brick edifice to educate the town's burgeoning population. Closed in 1996, the school sat empty until it was restored by Gary and Andrea Dahmer in 2002, who preserved the atmosphere of the old schoolhouse while adding modern comforts and conveniences. Although each former classroom still has an original chalkboard and bookcase, and the hardwood floors still show the marks made by students' desks, the private bathrooms have double whirlpool tubs, and air-conditioning guarantee comfort. The motto here is “make a homeroom your home away from home”. Rates start at $100 per night, making the math easy.
School House B&B, Rocheport, MO: This historic circa 1914 schoolhouse, once an institution of learning for ages 5-18, is now a luxurious 10-room bed and breakfast inn plus a recently added “dormitory”. Only two blocks from the scenic Katy Trail and beautifully restored and decorated, this inn combines the charm of old-fashioned school desks and blackboards with the comforts that guests seek, including double whirlpool tubs and in-room fireplaces. So authentic that Hallmark was inspired to choose this B&B for a series of greeting cards, it has been featured in cookbooks, guidebooks, magazines, TV shows and newspapers. You’ll stay in rooms evoking elementary school memories like the Show & Tell Room and Dick & Jane Room, and this inn consistently gets an “A” for great breakfasts too.
Inn at Bingham School, Chapel Hill, NC: Operating from 1845-1865, the Bingham School served as a preparatory school for young men seeking entrance to the University of North Carolina at nearby Chapel Hill. Although the school itself is no longer standing, the headmaster's home is now a gracious B&B which received the Gertrude S. Kelly Award from Preservation North Carolina, and is listed in the National Historic Registry, for its meticulous restoration. Stay in the Headmaster’s Room, just for the principal of it!
Old Schoolhouse, Fort Davis, TX: Built in 1904, this adobe building served as the schoolhouse for Fort Davis's children until the 1930s. The irrigation pump house in back of the inn - originally the girls' outhouse – remains today as a reminder of its legacy. The 22-inch-thick adobe walls, bead board paneling, and ceiling-high windows still convey the traditional soundness of the original construction as guests choose to enjoy the three R’s – the Reading, Riting or ‘Rithmetic Rooms offered here.
Torrey Schoolhouse B&B, Torrey, UT: Built between 1914 and 1916, the Torrey Schoolhouse operated as a school and cultural center from 1917 through 1954, housing three large classrooms for grades one through eight on the first floor with a recreation room on the second floor. It sat empty for nearly 50 years until its present owner purchased and renovated it, reopening as an inn in 2004. Today, the former classroom space is the Grand Room, providing a spacious living and common room also available for functions. Guestrooms on the second floor evoke childhood memories with names like the Music Room, Reading Room and Writing Room.
Barclay Cottage, Virginia Beach, VA: Built as a private home in 1895, it was converted into Miss Barclay's School in 1921. Miss Lillian Barclay taught kindergarten through third grade in the building for the next 50 years, all while continuing to accept overnight guests. Lillian closed the school in 1972 when she was 80, but she continued to host guests and live in her home until she passed away in 1989. Restored as a B&B, Miss Barclay's School/Barclay Cottage was totally modernized with all new electrical wiring, plumbing and central heat and air conditioning. Wicker rockers grace the porch, and guests can still borrow books from the inn's library just as they could from the school in the past.
Wilson Schoolhouse Inn, La Crosse, WI: Built as a one-room rural school in 1917, the Wilson Schoolhouse closed in 1965. Restored and elegantly furnished to retain the open atmosphere of the original schoolhouse, this B&B still maintains much of its original character and charm, with the original slate blackboard and school desks. It sits on 10 rural acres surrounded by woods, hills and gardens. Where children used to play hide-and-seek, guests now enjoy solitude and nature, although children are still invited to stay, run and play.
Old Schoolhouse B&B, Waukau, WI: While many of the students’ desks have been replaced by far more comfortable furniture, this former 1926 schoolhouse offers four homerooms (guestrooms) named for teachers who taught here. The original hardwood floors remain throughout the inn; though refinished, they still retain the marks where desks and chairs were once fastened down. For those whose favorite memory was "library time," you'll still find one in the loft here, and games and puzzles are available to entertain guests aged 12 and up.
For empty-nesters or those who can never quite get enough good learning, these former schoolhouse B&Bs offer a better way to stay. Planning a B&B getaway? Visit www.BetterWayToStay.com for ideas and to learn what makes inns and B&Bs the ideal alternative to hotel lodging.
About the Better Way To Stay
The Better Way To Stay campaign is a national campaign sponsored by the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (www.innkeeping.org). The campaign is dedicated to helping travelers discover today’s inns and B&B experience