First Person: Jackie Reed, owner, Aaron Shipman House Bed and Breakfast


(Photograph by D.A. Peterson )
June 27, 2013

In 1975, my husband and I bought this Victorian-era diamond in the rough strictly for our family. The renovation and restoration we naively thought might take six months took almost eight years. Old houses often expose a rat’s nest of problems with every project. Upgrading a bathroom turns into replacing all the plumbing, all the way back to the tie into the city lines, and realizing the electrical in this same bathroom is close
to 100 years old and nowhere near meeting today’s code. We exhausted our budget. My husband became very good at woodworking, and I learned how to lay tile, paint and do lots of other things.

I got tired of working on the house and supervising workers. By the time the renovations were coming to a close, four of our five children were launched to college and careers, and I kept thinking this house would make a great bed-and-breakfast. My husband, Charles, wanted to sell after our youngest child left for college, but a neighboring Logan Circle B&B owner who knew about my budding idea asked us to host family friends they couldn’t accommodate, and those were our first paying guests. Word spread. After having a few more guests, Charles was on board, enjoying the variety of people and conversations.

A lot about this business never changes, but what always changes is the cast of characters. People from Norway, Australia, England, New Hampshire, Florida and Michigan shared breakfast at our dining room table this morning. Watching connections unfold is great fun. Once, a guest was sharing a painting by her artist father. In the midst of his scene of a remote tribe, there was an anthropologist another guest recognized, and shouted, “I studied with him!”

I’m a grandmother and love children, so we always have toys around in addition to high chairs and cribs. We recently had a 4-year-old here for a week, and I asked him if I could get some hugs since my grandchildren weren’t around. Ryan and I always talked at breakfast, and I tried to make his visit special. As his family was leaving, I asked him to tell me his favorite thing about Washington, and he said, “You!”

Running this business alone would be impossible, but it’s not easy to get help for the odd, part-time hours: 7 a.m. to noon every day. Fortunately, Grace has worked for me for 16 years and Janice for 14. I shop and cook breakfast. They do dishes, laundry and clean. But they do so much more. We work as a team. When Charles and I go away, they take over seamlessly. I always say I have no exit plan, but if Grace and Janice retire, I will be right behind them with a For Sale sign.

Continue reading
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Lifestyle

lifestyle

magazine

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters