New beginnings come in different packages for each of us. Jim and I, the owners of Chestnut Manor, are the type of people you would describe as visionary. We're always seeing the possibilities in anything and everything. We enjoy this in each other as it sparks ideas that cement us as a couple.
In 2011, my mother mentioned that the former Kirby's Restaurant building was for sale. We drove by and considered the possibilities, but decided that we had enough projects. In 2012, we noticed that the property was still available, decided to go to the auction and, suddenly, we were the proud owners.
I remember that day very vividly. Jim was in auction mode and I was just hoping we knew what we were doing. And that's when the new beginning started. Suddenly, the old Kirby's went from an empty building to a home. The first few minutes after we became the new owners were surreal. We now have the place that will start our next chapter: A bed and breakfast.
Juniata Valley Family file photo
Jim and Launa Snyder purchased the former Kirby’s restaurant building, which sits on Chestnut Street in Lewistown. The couple has transformed the building into a bed and breakfast.
The next months were a mixture of excitement, fun and hard work. We found a conference for innkeepers and attended. We were placed in the aspiring innkeeper category, and our name tags identified us as such. People greeted us with congratulations for becoming new innkeepers. The excitement and anxiety were building. We had so much to learn and so much to do. We made a business plan to keep us on course.
I love shopping, so having a large home to furnish was a dream come true. Jim and I love going to auctions and sales (that should be obvious), and we spent time scouring newspapers, websites and reading bulletin boards for venues that had period items or antiques. We loved this part of the journey.
As we made more and more purchases, I could see the transformation as we found a new home for each piece. I always smile when I look at our antique library table because there is a story that goes with it:
Jim and I were at a public sale in Perry County where the contents of a big, old farmhouse were being sold. Jim went to the restroom, and yes, the item that we really wanted went up for bidding. Gulp.
I called up the bidding warrior princess in me and began. I was up against someone who wanted the table as much as I did ... well almost as much. I heard Jim's voice from behind yelling, "Good job, hon!"
But this journey was also a lot of hard work. We had to clean windows that sat untouched for years. We scrubbed and painted. We fixed plumbing problems and did electrical updates. We fixed appliances and handled the numerous other details of starting a bed and breakfast. After painting until 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, I knew we needed help. Thankfully, we found reliable contractors willing to help us with the painting, plaster, electric and maintenance of our new property.
Our wonderful friends and family pitched in without hesitating. Cousins from New York and Virginia made long distance trips to clean, paint, scrub and prepare for the grand opening; grandchildren and children helped out; our mothers helped clean; my aunt gave me an antique lamp for a spot that needed beautifying; co-workers came for a girls weekend of work; our best friends encouraged us as they helped with labor; and our dear neighbors pitched in too. Looking back, they were the wind beneath our wings and we are grateful to each of them.
As I sit here, looking around at this wonderful transformation, from a vacant property of 14 years to the completed Chestnut Manor Bed and Breakfast, I'm glad that we took a chance and fulfilled our dream of owning an old home filled with beauty. We remind ourselves how blessed we are and to value what we have earned.
There are many lessons to be learned and reinforced here: Remember that nothing ventured is nothing gained, shoot for the stars, follow your dreams, penny wise pound smart, don't be afraid to ask for help, be thankful and try, try again. We took these words of wisdom to heart during our journey as owners and innkeepers of the Chestnut Manor Bed and Breakfast.
For more information about the Chestnut Manor Bed & Breakfast, visit www.chestnut-manor.com.