With 12-foot ceilings, stained-glass windows containing amber imported from Germany and elaborate parquet flooring, William Frederick Reynolds’s 1885 home in Bellefonte, Pa., must have been an impressive sight in the 19th century.
It still is. Today, the big house on the corner operates as Reynolds Mansion, a six-bedroom bed-and-breakfast.
When I arrived for a recent stay, Tricia Andriaccio, who owns the B&B with her husband, Mike, showed me around. I’m guessing that Reynolds couldn’t have been any prouder of the place than Tricia is.
Highlights of the introductory tour included the billiards room and the delightfully named Snuggery, where the men used to retire for brandy and cigars after hunting or playing a round of golf. The room is still as cozy as it sounds, but now it also houses a bed for one of the Andriaccios’ two dogs and Sept. 11 memorabilia from Mike’s time as a New York police officer.
Tricia and I slowly made our way up the elaborate staircase to the second floor, where I was happy to be shown one of the old-fashioned bedrooms. I always like seeing rooms other than my own, and if I don’t have to sneak around to do it, so much the better.
This particular chamber, Louisa’s Cherub Room, earned its name from the ceiling mural. Reynolds’s nephew, the home’s second owner, had it placed just so to enable his ailing wife to admire it from a reclining position. Sweet.
I’d joked with Tricia about coming in through what I called the servants’ entrance, the mansion’s side door. (The fancier front door isn’t used for regular guest traffic.) Turns out that the third floor, where my room was, used to be the actual servants’ quarters.
Obviously, my digs were a bit plusher than theirs — Jacuzzi! — but still less formal than the second-floor options. In other words, no fragile antiques for me to worry about knocking over. Instead, I found myself surrounded by a nature theme, with botanical prints, hand-painted flowers and birds’ nests. There were also plenty of windows, some behind the Jacuzzi, requiring a comical climb through and around the tub to close the blinds.
The bathroom (the Jacuzzi sits in the main room, a few feet from the bed) had a shower, which was perfectly serviceable. But I’m almost embarrassed to say how excited I was by a set of wall-mounted glass shelves. Unless I’m staying at a chain hotel, there never seems to be enough counter space for my lotions and potions, as my husband likes to call them.
More restorative than anything in my little travel bag was breakfast the next day. Mike whipped up a delectable baked apple pancake that had me scraping every last bit out of the cute cast-iron pan it came in. Guests were asking for the recipe before they’d finished the dish.
Sometimes it’s the modest touches that complete even the grandest setting.