Rise and Shine: Central Indiana Bed and Breakfast Destinations
When the owners of stately homes, full of history and charm, open their doors, inviting us in, they let us partake, even if for just a night or two, of life lived a century or more ago. Stained-glass windows, lustrous hardwoods, marble, turrets, verandas and elegant period furnishings are more than just a lesson in historic architecture, they immerse us in the past. Elegant snacks in the parlor in the evening and breakfasts in grand dining rooms with delicious offerings served on fragile china help make a bed and breakfast experience sublime. Whether in large cities or small towns, Edible Indy has found such keepsakes not far from home.
For years the wonderful Irwin Gardens, part of the two-acre estate located in downtown Columbus, were open to the public. Here thick twists of wisteria, planted in 1911, bloomed in a profusion of purple flowers and the Renaissance-style tiered fountain formed the perfect backdrop to the 13,000-square-foot Edwardian mansion. Though the house was private, that changed several years ago. It now offers the public enjoyment both inside and out.
A bed and breakfast for 30 years, the Brick Street Inn has been part of Zionsville's historic brick-lined Main Street since 1865 – making it a perfect spot for guests to visit the nearby boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. All the catering is provided by Patrick's Kitchen and Drinks, an on-site full-service restaurant with terrace dining in nice weather.
Once a general store built in 1916, the Story Inn is now a destination restaurant and the jewel of a pre-Civil War village nestled along a winding rural road in scenic Brown County. The Inn offers elegant farm-to-fork dining and overnight accommodations in what were the homes of early residents, some dating back to 1851. Breakfast here is country-style, with house-made biscuits and gravy, freshly roasted coffee and crab cakes Benedict.
Just a mile's drive to downtown Noblesville and built on a rise just across the road from the White River, Sycamore Knoll maintains its rural charm. With four acres of landscaped grounds, the country feel can be found in the orchards, heirloom trees, perennial gardens, porch swing and gazebo. Goodies like chocolate chip cookies can be ordered in advance and there's a 24-hour snack area in the dining room.
Breakfast by candlelight at the Ivy House, a 1921 manse built on the highest point around. Served on fine china, menu items often include pecan rolls, ham and cheese soufflés, French toast with bacon and freshly made baked goods. Intriguing tidbits about the inn: Jim Nolte – who owns the Ivy House with his wife, Linda – likes to restore old doors and use them in the house. But even more fun, after the Noltes discovered gambling paraphernalia in the basement and the attic and heard rumors that Al Capone (yes, the Al Capone) used to stop by to place a bet or two, the HGTV cable TV program "If Walls Could Talk" came out to film.
At the Old MG Bed & Breakfast, a lovely brick building built in the 1860s outside of Brownsburg, foods are locally sourced and organically grown as much as possible, including their special blend of locally roasted coffee. The home houses a collection of wonderfully restored vintage MG sports cars – hence the name.
The Edinburgh Bed & Breakfast at the Toner-Maley House, a spectacular 140-year-old mansion clad with red brick and white gingerbread, takes us back to how the really rich lived in the 1870s. Lavish interiors with flourishes like arched doorways, sculpted plaster ceilings and inlaid wood floors add to the charm.
Tunnelton – no, you haven't heard of it – is home to the stunning 1879 Guthrie Meadows, an Italianate Victorian. Here, owner Annette Fultz, a former restaurateur, creates such Indiana- centric goodies as persimmon bars (nearby Mitchell is home to the annual Persimmon Festival) and sugar cream pie. Located in Limestone Country, there's an underground river offering boat tours nearby as well as Spring Mill Park, home of Pioneer Village dating back to 1811.
Built in 1896, the Nestle Inn, a grand Victorian situated in historic Chatham Arch, offers 21st century amenities amidst 19th century splendor. Sign up for one of the cooking classes that owner Leesa Smith offers most Saturdays, enjoy weekday breakfasts with vouchers for Henry's Coffee Bistro and, on the weekend, taste the small delicious bites of such early morning offerings as banana stuffed waffles, egg lasagna and breakfast pizza.
Built in 1910 at a cost of $10,000 (a fortune back then), the Showers Inn, on the National Register of Historic Places, features such distinctive architectural features as Corinthian-style columns, a walled-in back garden and carved garland trim. Breakfast is served continental style – but don't worry, this isn't the same con-style breakfast you get at a Holiday Inn Express – and guests can partake either in the sunroom, where there are individual tables, or at the large linen-draped table in the formal dining room.