REGIONAL- Take an old homestead on a rural Embarrass homestead, or a historical building in “downtown” Soudan, add some magical renovations, spot-on interior decorating, then add in owners and/or operators with fabulous sense of hospitality and style. What do you get? It might just be the perfect spot to spend a weekend, or part of a week, or to put up an overflow of guests, or host a family reunion or other gathering.
Two area bed and breakfast inns, one old, one new, are now serving the Tower/Soudan and Embarrass areas.
Vermilion Park Inn
Vermilion Park Inn is located in the old Soudan Hospital Building in Soudan. The building has a colorful history, dating back to the earliest days of the Soudan Underground Mine. The new inn draws on the rich history of the community, and with lots of hard work and investment from new owners Mary Batinich and Jane Turner, the building has been updated from bottom to top.
The inn, once all the renovations are completed, will feature 11 rooms, most with their own private bath, and can sleep up to 24. The inn also features a large ground level area suitable for retreats, family reunions, small weddings, or other meetings. Plans are underway to build a commercial kitchen on the ground level, along with a bar.
The inn will be ready for guests soon. Finishing touches are still being done on the new plumbing and other structural renovations.
The common areas and rental rooms are decorated with many lovingly restored antique pieces, and each room features hand-made quilted bedding.
“We found a lot of antiques and the furniture in Arizona,” said Batinich, who rented a U-Haul to bring the treasures back to Soudan. Renovations this spring and summer include all-new carpeting, stripping and refinishing the original woodwork and interior trim, updated plumbing and electrical service, additional bathrooms, and the creation of an apartment for the inn manager.
Restoring the woodwork was complicated.
“There were eight to ten layers of paint on much of the woodwork,” said Batinich, showing off the intricately detailed staircase newel post that took about 40 hours of work to restore.
“We didn’t even know there was the carved detail on each side of the post,” she said.
The co-owners also contributed many of their own furniture pieces and antiques to decorate the inn.
The owners also plan to open a small antique shop on the grounds, Gold Mine Antiques. The front of the inn features beautiful gardens. The large landscaped backyard features a large deck, plus a fire pit with seating and room for outdoor games. The inn, once complete, will also feature some rooms that are handicap-accessible, with private accessible bathrooms. One upstairs room is suitable for a family, with sleeping for four. Other rooms feature a mix of king, queen, and twin beds. All the rooms have their own televisions.
The inn offers guests a freshly-made continental breakfast. The inn features a shared kitchen that guests can use. The ground level of the building is one large open room, perfect for crafting retreats, parties with seating up to 60, and other events or meetings. The lobby is a cozy living room, with seating for well over a dozen guests.
Once the interior is completed, it will also feature historic photos from the building’s days as the town’s hospital.
Vermilion Park Inn is located right off Main Street, in Soudan, across from the Soudan Store. Find them on facebook, or at www.vermilionparkinn.com (online reservations coming soon).
Northern Comfort Bed and Breakfast
Soudan native Patty (Jungworth) Brower and her husband Jeff are the new innkeepers at Northern Comfort Bed and Breakfast in Embarrass. The two recently made the journey north from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, back to Patty’s home turf.
Patty had been a frequent guest at the B & B, and had become friends with owners Pam Bennett and Kathy Johnson.
“I always stayed here when I came to visit my mother [Mary Alice Johnson],” Patty said, “because it was dog-friendly.”
The couple opened up an antique shop back in Staunton, Virginia, and hired Pam to do their bookkeeping.
Patty has a lot of connections to the hospitality business, as well as rural living. She lived on the Thompson Farm, outside of Soudan, when she was a child, where her father raised sled dogs.
When Pam and Kathy were looking for someone to run the B & B, they instantly thought of Patty and Jeff. Jeff was at a transition point in his career, which had been in conservation forestry, and both were ready for a change.
“So this is a return to where I started,” she said. “But we do have electricity.”
She also had a stepfather who operated Glenmore Resort and another stepfather, Leonard Johnson, who built Four Corners in Embarrass.
“It was really hard to see that building go,” she said.
Getting used to rural living has been a little trying, she said, having lived in larger cities much of her adult life. But she is getting used to making once a week grocery trips, and has reconnected with old school friends from Tower-Soudan.
The B & B features five guest rooms in the old, beautifully-restored farmhouse.
The two aren’t used to living in such a large house.
“I keep losing Jeff,” Patty laughed.
The two have started out with a busy schedule. The B & B was full of musicians in town for the Northern Lights Music Festival, and has been mostly booked the rest of the summer.
The old Kangas homestead was built in 1901 and was operated as a Finnish boarding house starting in 1910. The hand-hewn log building is one of the historic treasures in Embarrass. The site features 17 acres and has an authentic wood-burning Finnish sauna available for guest use. There is also an outdoor gazebo.
Guests are treated to complimentary wine and cheese on Friday and Saturday evenings. The B & B serves a delicious full gourmet breakfast each morning, including fruits and vegetables from the farm. Patty posts recipes on her blog (northerncomfortmn.com). The couple plans to start keeping chickens, so they can offer fresh eggs for breakfast.
Patty also does marketing work for writers through an agency in New York City, and will also be running the Homespun Acres antique shop located in the large barn on the property.
The two brought their basset hound, Peppermint, and cat, Biscuit, with them. Peppermint is loving the outdoors farm life, Patty said, but also likes to sneak inside her office. Biscuit has found plenty of cozy hiding spots in the house.
Northern Comfort will be hosting a bring-your-own-project weekend getaway in September. Bring your knitting or quilting or other craft project, or if you are a beginner, Patty is willing to coach beginning knitters. Bring a friend, Patty said, or come by yourself and make some new friends.
Northern Comfort is located on Waisanen Rd. in Embarrass. The B & B offers rooms and two-room suites. The website is www.northerncomfortmn.com (offers online reservations).