ELWOOD — Drive a few miles south out of Elwood and as you near the crest of a hill you can see an 1898 farmhouse. Since 2015, this farmhouse has also served as a unique bed and breakfast for the Gosper County area.
Sindy Fiene said she had planned on opening a bed and breakfast since she was a young girl, and she has always enjoyed cooking and caring for other people. She is now the proprietor of House on the Hill Bed & Breakfast.
The house has a story of its own. Built south of Eustis near the turn of the 19th century, Fiene and her late husband Deon, were the second owners of the home. They had been looking for an older home in 1998 and had the idea to make it into a bed and breakfast.
The house was carefully moved south of Elwood on Dec. 31, 1999, the turn of the millennium, said Fiene.
One story she regularly tells guests, that during the move an upright piano was laid down to ensure its safety, but a mirror had gone unnoticed hanging on the second floor. When the house was set on its new foundation, the Fienes found the mirror still hanging on the wall, a testament to the moving crew’s gentleness with the 100-year-old home.
Through additions to the home, it now boasts 6,500 square feet and 10 bedrooms, compared to the original four. The other additions include a full kitchen, an open staircase and a wrap-around porch.
The contents of the house are also full of personal stories. The kitchen lights and water cooler on display came from the District 22 country school, where Fiene attended. The tin on the side of the island came from the ceiling of the old school. The small school desk in the entryway was also Fiene’s.
Other items throughout the home are repurposed: Doors from an old barn add a rustic look in one room, closet doors from a rural Phelps County home adorned another bedroom. Ask Fiene — nearly everything in the home has some personal tie or story of its own.
Fiene said when guests walk through the home they can connect to some item or room and really appreciate it.
The bed and breakfast was well on its way to being completed, but this was put on hold after Deon was diagnosed with cancer, after he died on June 1, 2014 Feine debated on continuing. She was eventually convinced by her children she should see the project through.
There are four bedrooms open to guests in the house, each with their own identity. The King Suite is the most contemporary room of the four. Fiene said when she was learning about bed and breakfasts, it was important to keep one room fairly modern and contemporary for people who preferred this feeling over antiques.
The Cowboy Room appeals to those who have either grown up on a farm or who yearn for the rural setting. Adorning the room are the antlers of the first deer her son, Nate, was able to bring down,and resting on that is her father’s old cowboy hat.
The Garden Room gives a feeling of antique and relaxing with a queen sized bed and botanical décor.
The Grandmother’s Room gives the full feeling of an old farmhouse, due to it being one of the original rooms of the 1898 farmhouse; it also features a queen bed.
Since she started the House on the Hill, visitors have been frequent, even more so after Fiene started holding cooking and craft classes. During the third week of May, she hosts a handcrafted vendor show and a wine tasting.
Typically busier times are during the Gosper County Fair and most holiday weekends. Fiene also said people who have relatives in the Elwood Care Home are also common place visitors to the bed and breakfast. Local businesses, such as Canyon Lakes Brewing Company, also provide a draw to the House on the Hill, Fiene said.
Fiene is the sole proprietor but gets a lot of her family, her son Nate and his wife, Nikki, are often on hand to help when needed. Fiene’s mother, Carolyn Houser, also provides her own help. Her daughter Leslee, who lives in Idaho, provides moral support.
“It wouldn’t happen without them,” she said.
Local support plays a huge role in the House on the Hill’s success, and Fiene said she gets, “incredible support,” from Elwood and her old stomping ground of Eustis. Many people who knew Deon also have stayed at the bed and breakfast.
Word of mouth is a big draw, Fiene said. People are drawn to the place for a different experience than a normal hotel stay and the privacy the rural home provides. The House on the Hill provides for a more intimate setting and Fiene hopes she provides a more personal touch than people would have gotten otherwise.
“It’s a venue where people can share stories; it’s a nice private place to socialize,” Fiene said.
At the end of the day Fiene always falls back on her favorite saying: “Relax your mind, calm your spirit and feed your soul.”
The House on the Hill Bed and Breakfast can be found on Facebook or by calling 308-785-3828. The bed and breakfast is located at 74050 Highway 283 at Elwood.