Inn offers touch of 18th century
Bed and breakfast barn available for weddings, events
The Inne at Watson’s Choice, in Uniontown, Pa., celebrated its 18th anniversary this year with a new addition: A refurbished event barn.
Since 1997, Bill and Nancy Ross have maintained The Inne at Watson’s Choice and the accompanying Harvest House, located on 45 acres of lush Pennsylvania countryside. They purchased the land nearly three decades prior to opening the bed and breakfast. The Rosses are the third owners of this property, established in 1769.
“Watson’s Choice” was the name of the land grant given to John Watson as compensation for his time in the military. The land was established as 325 acres paid to the soldiers for a small stipend as a reward for their service. The Rosses own 45 acres of the original property, including the two main houses and 14 other outbuildings located on the property.
“What the place looked like when we bought it, it was in ruins,” Nancy Ross said. “So we had to go and tear everything off, plaster everything that was there and start over from bare bones. What you see now is what we have.”
The Rosses purchased the property with the intention that the owner of the time, Mrs. Sapper, would reside in one of the houses and they would take up residence in the second home. Six months after the Rosses purchased the land, Mrs. Sapper passed away, leaving the couple with 45 acres of unkempt “jungle” and two dilapidated homes.
“We just boarded this house up and worked on the other one for 10 years,” Ross said, remarking on the challenge she and her husband faced when left with the project. “Once we got that finished, I was teaching at the time, it got to the point where I would wake up in the morning and say ‘Do I have to go back to school?’ I was just so burnt out, so we decided we were going to do something with this property.”
After Ross realized that her passion for teaching had been replaced by the lovely home she and her husband had created, she began looking into the details of bed and breakfasts. One of her co-workers at the high school worked a second job as a B&B reviewer, so she connected the Rosses with a couple in Gettysburg, Pa., who had begun their own bed and breakfast a few years prior. The couple gave the Rosses tips and know-how to begin their own business.
In 1997, the Inne was open for business. With 12 themed guest rooms and two private cabins — all modeled after the original 18th-century style of the house — the couple began attracting visitors from all over the world, primarily due to their proximity to Fallingwater, a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright that is open for tours.
Although recently refurbished, the Inne is constructed and decorated with authentic 18th century pieces. The Rosses purchased two barns and used every material they could recover in their new business.
“We looked like an honest to God salvage yard there for a bit,” Ross said with a chuckle.
The Rosses scoured local thrift and antique shops for accouterments that fit the time period theme of their inn and found what they were looking for in unlikely places. There are lamps that came from a horse and buggy hearse from the 1700s, paneling from an old Catholic church and beams from old barns. Each piece in the inn is authentic of the time period.
This fact also holds true of the refurbished barn now available for use in the event of a wedding or large gathering.
“When they refurbished [the barn] so that it can be used for weddings, they thought of every single detail,” Marianne Skvarla, the event coordinator at the Inne, said of the Ross’ renovations. “Including having a well-established hard wood floor. There is also mesh around the barn for bird and bat protection which is a real bonus for barn weddings.”
The recent barn wedding trend has cost couples thousands of dollars to rent not only the facility, but also a floor for the barn, portable toilet facilities and lighting. The Inne at Watson’s Choice addressed and solved all of these problems for prospective weddings. The floor is built in and well maintained, and the back of the barn holds permanent rest-room facilities as well as a catering kitchen. The lights in the barn came from a Catholic cathedral and emit a “lovely glow.”
The first wedding to be held on the property will take place in July, and the bride happens to be a descendant of John Watson, the original owner of the property. Purely by coincidence, the young woman and her husband-to-be chose her great-great-uncle’s land as the location for their exchange of vows.
Couples are given the opportunity to rent all 45 acres of property for their wedding weekend, letting their guests stay in one of the elegantly decorated rooms and ensuring their privacy, for $10,000 from Friday to Sunday.
The staff is working on making more wedding specials available to the public, and more details regarding wedding plans are expected to be released this summer.
Address: 234 Balsinger Road, Uniontown, Pa.
Rates, not including specials: $105 and up