Find romance at this historic inn — Photo courtesy of Ashford Mnor Bed & Breakfast
Dave Shearon and Mario Castro, life partners, wanted to leave the cold winters of Chicago behind – along with their high-pressure careers. So, in December 1997, they went south to Watkinsville, Ga. where they purchased Ashford Manor knowing they would turn it into an inn and launch new careers as innkeepers.
Returning to Chicago, they sold their house, said adieu to their fast-paced careers in fashion advertisement and restaurant entrepreneurship. In August 1998, Dave and Mario were settled at the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast and welcoming their first guests.
Not content to be just innkeepers, they have become event planners with many weddings being held at Ashford Manor. Believing in giving back to the community, they host charitable events, concerts and plays.
Surrounded by five acres of manicured grounds, Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast is a stunning Queen Anne Victorian built in 1893 by businessman Alexander Woodson Ashford.
The porch is a lovely spot for two — Photo courtesy of Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast
Dave and Mario’s flair for decorating shows in the inn’s five guestrooms and cottage suites. The Asian room is filled with East Asian antiques: wedding kimonos, furniture and ceramics collected by Dave when he lived in Kyoto. All chintz and bone china, the English Room with two double beds feels very British.
A massive white canopied bed, fireplace and oriental rugs take center stage in the ultra-romantic White Room. Relax in one of the overstuffed chairs in the private sitting room.
The Safari Room takes 'glamping' to new indoor heights. There’s a world map covering one wall and the tin ceiling is original to the house. Around the room are pieces of art that Dave and Mario collected on their world travels. The bathroom is a kick; restored barn board walls, antique clawfoot tub and a sink fashioned out of a 1920’s-style mixing bowl.
Decorated with art by local and international artists, the Cottage Gallery and Hideaway Suite offer king beds, daybeds, kitchenettes and private porches making them ideal for three people.
The gazebo is a decorative part of the beautiful grounds — Photo courtesy of Ashford Mnor Bed & Breakfast
Nearby attractions are plentiful/ Art by local artisans is huge in this area. The Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation sells the arts and crafts of forty artists. The Yarn House, set in an early 19th century building, is filled with everything imaginable for knitting and crocheting, Gone With the Bead is a profusion of colored beads, glass sculptures and jewelry.
Chappelle Pottery is known and collected by people throughout the south. Forty-five years ago, Jerry and Kathy Chappelle started their business, Happy Valley Pottery, on the farm where they live in Watkinsville. Take a tour of the studio to see where Jerry and Kathy create their pieces. Afterwards stop by their downtown shop, Chappelle Gallery, and pick up a piece to start your own collection.
For more art and culture, a 15-minute drive down Highway 441 brings you to Athens and the Georgia Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Georgia. Being a college town, Athens is full of shops, galleries, theaters, bistros, pubs and restaurants.