David Blake and I believe ourselves to be the most unlikely of innkeepers. It was never our dream to own a bed and breakfast, and if anyone had suggested it to us even as recently as 2008, we would have laughed at the idea.
Nonetheless, we have always been described by our friends as consummate hosts. We always strive to give a great party. We love to entertain and have frequently done so during our life together which began in 1994.
I am originally from Dallas and David Blake is from the Main Line outside of Philadelphia, but our upbringings were vastly similar in ways other than our both being named David. At our homes, the welcome mat was always out, the kettle on the stove was never far from a whistle, there was always an extra place at the dinner table, and there were fresh, crisp sheets at the ready on any guestroom bed. That way of life, a perpetual state of entertaining, is in our DNA.
So when Dave decided, after 40 years as an attorney in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, to call it quits and looked to a big, new adventure, it was our friends, one and all, who suggested we contemplate ideas related to the entertaining that they had come to think we did so well.
We wanted to combine our talents with a lifestyle and investigated different venues. We briefly considered the idea of a restaurant. We knew that we wanted to consolidate our lives, live above the store, somewhere away from the maddening crush of the city, pursuing something we would find manageable, and be substantially in control of our own success.
Dave Blake is an inspired cook who loves the culinary arts. I, on the other hand, enjoy socializing and making guests comfortable. Together we are a great team. It was a process of elimination that finally gave us the idea of a B&B.
That’s when a three- year search began. We knew we wanted to be on the East Coast, so we scoured the countryside from mid-coast Maine to the southernmost point of North Carolina. We visited the best and the worst of inns for sale which gave us an appreciation for what works, and what doesn’t work in a bed and breakfast. Just at the time when we were wondering if we would ever come to find the suitable home and business, someone suggested that we visit the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.
We’d been to Ithaca several times during the years that Dave’s son was attending Ithaca College, but never really had an opportunity to enjoy the area. Just quick trips up for school functions and then back to Philadelphia.
It was love at first sight when we drove through Trumansburg. And when we stepped through the door at Halsey House the first time, we knew we were home.
We welcomed our first guests on Thursday, June 6, 2013. I met them in the car park in the pouring rain to assist in bringing in their luggage. They were a charming couple from Canada whose children had reserved time for them at Halsey House to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Dave stood in the threshold to greet us. By the time we reached the porch, they were no longer strangers. Dave and I knew we’d made the right decision to take this turn in the road. Our intermission was over. Act III in our lives had begun.
David Nelson Wren