Welcome. I am Beth, the new owner/innkeeper of Walnut Lawn. The Walnut Lawn Bed and Breakfast is exactly the type of home I always wanted to live in. It is a 100-year old colonial farm house nestled in the village of Lampeter in Lancaster County, PA. The original chestnut woodwork, grand pocket doors, rippled glass windows, hardwood floors and ornate steam radiators drew me right in, not to mention the wrap-around porch that looks out onto the idyllic Amish farms in the area. Even the attic is pretty spectacular with vaulted ceilings and window dormers. It is a great place to potentially expand the gathering space in the home to be able to accommodate church group retreats, quilting bees and scrapbooking clubs. The basement will eventually be renovated to become my own personal sewing and quilting studio. But on top of the perfect character of the house, the business of the bed and breakfast is exactly what I wanted to do as my second career.
I grew up in the next county over, but my dad grew up right here in Lancaster. Lancaster has always felt like an extension of my own home town. My family came here to Lancaster for routine shopping trips at the outlets, my mom did all of her annual plant and flower shopping at the many nearby Amish greenhouses, and my high school friends and I did an annual summer day-trip to Strasburg for miniature golf at Village Greens followed by a stop off at the Strasburg Creamery for the most delectable homemade ice cream. My roots are here, but it took me a while to get back here and be blessed with the ownership of the Walnut Lawn Bed and Breakfast.
Prior to now, I had been a successful scientist. I have a doctorate in Molecular Biology and had been researching genetics for agriculture, including understanding DNA sequences in corn that affect the productivity of the crop. After a few years, I moved to Louisiana and had my own research lab studying honey bee genetics and breeding bees for disease resistance. But through all of my successes in science, I never felt fulfilled. I wanted to get back to Pennsylvania and find a career where I could realize my other passions which included entertaining, decorating, cooking, sewing, and general homemaking. In fact, since my first day of graduate-school way back in 2000, I knew that I would eventually want to leave science and have a B&B. It finally happened! I quit my job in May, moved back to PA and began the hunt for an established inn for sale. Walnut Lawn was exactly what I was looking for. It had been a B&B for 12 years and was lovingly owned and cared for by Tom and Sarah Murphy who had it for the last 9 years. The location was perfect, the home was outstanding, the business was booming and the reservations were flying in. The sale went through in late September and from day one it was booked. After some training from Tom and Sarah, I hit the ground running. I love it here. It is, perhaps, the hardest job I have ever had but also the most satisfying. I’m up before 6:00 a.m. to start cooking, setting the table, and getting the coffee flowing. Then the three course breakfast is served at 8:30, followed by cleaning all the dishes, check-out time for the guests, then upstairs to change over the rooms. By about 1:00 p.m. I am usually on my way back downstairs to start the three (or four or five or nine!) loads of laundry. Paperwork keeps me busy until the first dryer load is done and I can start on the ironing. The ironing and folding keep me busy until guests check-in, and sometimes long into the evening. Somewhere in there I squeeze in a trip to the grocery store every few days. By 10:00 or so I have finally finished all of the chores and I get a chance to sit down, but strangely, that is my least favorite part of the day. I like to be busy. I am already accustomed to the non-stop lifestyle.
I love my new career. The guests that have walked through my door have been fantastic. This is the last hoorah of the tourist season and the busiest month of the year. I have had people who were here for their first B&B experience and have left hooked on the idea. I have had many guests already from around the world – Canada, Ireland, England, and Denmark, and some from just a few towns over that were looking for a weekend get-a-way. I have had guests celebrating their first anniversary and a couple that were celebrating their 50th (!) anniversary. I have even had a husband and wife that are B&B owners themselves in Canada. The fact that they left happy and satisfied made me feel that I really am meant to be here. The conversations around the breakfast table are always joyous and warm and I am so thankful that I get to know each and every one of the guests regardless of how short of a time they get to spend here at Walnut Lawn.
The majority of guests have come to Lancaster to see “Moses” at Sight and Sound Theater, but they make a weekend of it and end up seeing all of the other wonderful attractions in the area. The changing leaves are at their peak and the apple harvest is one of the best on record. Some guests have left here with a trunk full of pumpkins and gourds from the local farms. But the best part is that they have all left with a new memory of their time in Lancaster County and Walnut Lawn B&B.
I am so excited for this new life of mine. It really is a life-long dream come true.