Nancy and Allen Smith own the Shaker Hill B&B, they are members of The Country Inns of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region, http://www.nhcountryinns.com and the New Hampshire Bed and Breakfast Association, http://www.nhbba.com, two B&B associations I work with located in New Hampshire.
Nancy and Allen both originally worked for the federal government, Allen spent 36 years with the US Forest Service, and Nancy worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for the last 11 years of her career. They both thought that they would like to own a B&B and started keeping an eye out for one toward the end of their careers. They found a property in the winter of 1996, under a mound of snow, and decided to take the plunge. They did major renovations while still living in Virginia and have been working on building gardens and “finishing” (Says Nancy,”An oxymoron if anyone has ever heard one!“) the B&B ever since.
Allen says, “When guests ask us how we came to settle in Enfield New Hampshire, we often reply, “We were looking in Pennsylvania and turned left one day….and have never looked back.” This is closer to the truth than you would believe; we had both been working in the DC area and often vacationed in PA but 12 years ago found our way to the Upper Connecticut River Valley and found home.”
The B&B is a 1793 traditional colonial home, which is in very good condition considering its age. They have tried to be true to its history in anything they have done. The house is built on the site of an earlier home – one that burned in the 1780’s and which had served as the meeting house for the Enfield Shakers prior to their moving to the other side of Mascoma Lake. The current structure was changed over the years as ownership changed hands – an ell was added in the 1850’s to accommodate a growing family. Over the years it was converted into apartments. Nancy and Allen have re-opened the lower part of the house and have renovated the small apartment, which they rent out, usually short term.
When Allen and Nancy first arrived in May 1998, they started decorating and furnishing and were able to open for business with a full house on October 1of that year; it was Dartmouth Homecoming. Nancy says, “Talk about baptism by fire! We have learned a lot over the years and have met such wonderful people that we have absolutely no regrets about our decision – in fact, it is hard to think of ever not greeting and meeting folks as we think of the future. If there is one downside to this business it has to be that you can’t “go home after a bad day at work.” This is a 24 hr. job and you have to like it.”
One source of relief for the innkeepers are their two Vizsla dogs – Willie and Ben. “They are a constant source of delight – for us and for our guests. I often think that they should have their own web site!”
Nancy mentions, “We have learned how to balance our time, we actually do get in an occasional round of golf together and manage to take advantage of other offerings in the Upper Valley. We have added a little golf green which means that we can practice a bit even when we can’t get out to play. I’m an avid gardener, we have built extensive gardens and actually have plans for another.” She exclaims, “Time does get to be the enemy where gardening is concerned, those weeds are much more persistent than I would have thought!”
She says “There are so many things to do in the area: farmers’ markets to theater and opera, to numerous historic sites – that we are never at a loss for things to do. We try to get out and see some of the lesser known spots so that we can direct our guests to these hidden treasures.”
Nancy and Allen have five children – all located somewhere else (Nancy says, “Its a good reason to travel every now and then“). Their oldest three, and all of their five grandkids, are well settled in Albuqerque, NM; their “baby” is trying to make her mark in the “triangle” area of North Carolina, and their special daughter lives in Virginia. They usually try to travel to see most of them, but welcome them “home” any time they can get here.
Allen says, “We try to make each guests stay a special one – whether it is a birthday, anniversary, parent visit or just a get-away. That personal touch is what sets us apart. We love to share our experiences with guests. We really love being inn keepers – it offers a wonderful chance to meet interesting people and keeps us young – I think. “
Shaker Hill Bed and Breakfast http://www.shakerhill.com