Best Laid Plans: Mount Merino Manor
Lodgings that bill themselves as bed-and-breakfasts tend to be hard by well-traveled roads, the better to catch the eye of passing tourists. Another reason: less competition from big spenders; therefore, a better price. To run a successful b & b, one must first find a house this is commodious and darling, but not too dear.
Mount Merino Manor is big, charming, and presumably the price was right, but, in terms of siting, it is a b & b apart. At the end of a long drive, amid green lawns that are surrounded by a 100-acre woods, the property feels more like a resort. The house itself is a textbook example of the romantic and feminine Queen Anne style. Just south of Hudson and north of Olana, the historic home of Hudson River School painter Frederic E. Church, the Manor was built in 1870 by Church’s physician, Dr. Gustavus A. Sabine. Rich in turrets, gables, and broad porches, the 7-bedroom pile has tall, spacious, light-filled rooms. Clearly, the good doctor subscribed to the then-popular theory that such amenities were an antidote to the sooty harshness of the industrial age. For many modern travelers, the medicine still works.
A stick-style Victorian in Columbia County, however, is not what Rita and Patrick Birmingham had in mind. “I’d dreamed of a Greek Revival in Berkshire County,” says Rita, a former advertising art director. But having searched for two years, not only in the Berkshires, but throughout much of New England and even, for a while, out west, she and Patrick recognized immediately that they had a winner on their hands.
All the while they were searching for the right property, the couple had taken myriad courses and attended seminars galore to prepare for what lay
ahead. After closing, they understood there would be much to accomplish before opening—the feverish accumulation of furniture, bedding and accessories; the plumbers and carpenters descending with their attendant mess. Nothing shocked them; they were well prepared. Then, as the project neared completion, plaster dust still thick in the air, Rita made an unexpected discovery. After three years of marriage, she was pregnant. Liam, now 5, arrived just ahead of the first paying guests.
While the decorating could never be accused of being heavy handed (a common crime at b & b’s), most rooms are furnished with lots of big, brown pieces, true to Victorian form.
An exception to the prevailing theme: in homage to Olana, a Persian-style room on the third floor. Another popular suite on this floor, Diamond Street, is named for a notorious Hudson neighborhood from its whaling-port days and features a quilted satin headboard and matching bedspread.
Mount Merino Manor
4317 Rte 23, Hudson; 518.828.5583