Bed and breakfast featured on Bath homes tour

Published 7:58 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

BATH — Relocating to the Beaufort County during retirement has become relatively common — low property taxes, low cost of living and access to the county’s waterways are major draws. But relocating after retirement only to start another business is a bit more unusual.

That’s exactly what Dale and Maree Benson did: move from the Washington, D.C., area to Bath in October 2015, not to idle away the hours on the shores of Bath Creek, but serve a constant stream of guests at their bed and breakfast, the Inn on Bath Creek.

“We both didn’t want to just stop and do nothing. We both wanted to do something we could have fun at and do together,” Maree Benson said. “We’re having a blast.”

They were looking for a bed and breakfast to buy, though they were primarily looking in Virginia. However, the couple stumbled upon the perfect spot in Bath.

“It was by accident, literally by accident, and we drove over the bridge and said, ‘What an oasis,’” Benson said. “You do drive over the bridge here, and you’re driving into a new world.”

START THE DAY: Guests of the Inn on Bath Creek can start the day with breakfast in this sunny room that was once outdoors.

In the past, the property was the site of the Buzzard Hotel, which had its own unfortunate history. Though identified in 1957 as a structure worthy for restoration for public use — specialists from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources dated its construction around 1830 — and the new Bath State Historic Site made attempts to get the property, but differences of opinion among the owners led to its abandonment. It was condemned and demolished around 1980.

The property gained new life in 1999 when Roger Brooks built the spacious home with four guest suites on the second and third floors. Intended for use as a bed and breakfast, another large, ground-floor suite was built for the innkeepers. Rich, brown Brazilian hardwood floors define the living space downstairs; upstairs, plush carpet, muffling sound for guests’ benefit, covers hall and room floors.

It’s a spacious place, made all the more so by the living room’s cathedral ceiling and open staircase and walkway above.

“The interesting architectural thing about this house: the height of the ceilings,” Benson said, adding in one corner of the living room, the ceiling rises all three stories.

Also of note is a room that was formerly a porch, but is now a sunny breakfast room, where guests can look out over the back garden.

Over the past year and a half, Benson has added her own touches: furniture, window dressing and décor that trends toward the nautical and soothing sea colors. One thing that has not changed is multiple oversized charts on one wall of the living room, mapping out the coastline of North Carolina.

Visitors on the Historic Bath Garden Club Homes Tour can see this home in person on April 22 during the self-guided tour featuring 10 Bath homes. Benson, a member of the garden club, said she was happy to offer up the bed and breakfast for the tour.

“(The tour) promotes the Town of Bath, the historical value and the continued preservation of Bath that the garden club does,” Benson said.

All of which is good for Bath and business.

Those interested in attending the homes tour can call Sallie LaCava at 252-964-3441 to reserve a spot. Tickets are $20 per person, but groups of 10 or more qualify for a discount — each ticket is reduced to $15 per person. All proceeds go to help beautify Bath.

NOOKS AND CRANNIES: A reading nook, tucked into the open walkway running above the living room, is the perfect place to while away a few hours with a book.