By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — For the first time in a long while, lodging will be available in Colfax to visitors who need a place to stay.
The Tapestry Trunk Bed and Breakfast will be open for business June 15.
Located at 503 Pine Street, the B&B is owned and operated by Innkeeper Susan Hill.
Hill purchased “the house next door” in the fall of 2012 and planned to use it as a rental property, and eventually, if all the requirements could be met, to operate it as a bed and breakfast.
The Tapestry Trunk has now officially met all of the necessary requirements to qualify as a bed and breakfast.
Hill says she is “very familiar” with the property that shares a driveway with the home where she has lived all her life at 505 Pine Street.
Bed and Breakfasts “come in all sizes and styles. Some are elaborate Victorian mansions. Some are rustic log cabins. Some are historic homes. And then there is the Tapestry Trunk,” Hill said, noting that her B&B is a modest family home with four guest rooms plus private quarters where she is required to stay when there are guests.
Although Hill describes the Tapestry Trunk as a modest family home, the house has a rich and varied history in the Village of Colfax.
The house at 503 Pine Street was originally built in 1910 for Lewis Rowe and his family.
Rowe was the village blacksmith, and his shop was right out the backdoor, Hill said.
Since horses were used extensively more than a hundred years ago for transportation and for agriculture, Rowe would have been a prominent and important person in Colfax.
“The lot on which the house was built was a livery stable and stockyard, as can been seen on early Colfax photos,” Hill said.
Sometime around 1945, the house at 503 Pine Street was purchased by Hill’s aunt and uncle, Edna and Elmer Hill.
Edna and Elmer’s three daughters and two sons grew up in the house.
In the early 1980s, almost 40 years later, Elmer Hill retired from the Colfax Oil Company, and Edna and Elmer moved to their lake home, Hill said.
At that time, the house was purchased by Dr. Tom Harstad, who was a veterinarian in Colfax for several years
“Over the past 30 years, many people and families have owned and lived in the house,” Hill said.
Owners of the house at 503 Pine Street have included Pat (Prince) Sumstad; Bryn Volkman; Gene Barnes; Marsha Dobbs and Sue Teshic; Ellis Bloomfield (who owned the Colfax Messenger for several years); the Sheryl and Guy Hazeltine family; David Marko; Jeannie Balsomo and family; Tristen Wolff; and Kathy Stamper and sons.
“If you know of any others, please tell me so they can added to the genealogy of the house,” Hill said.
Since Hill purchased the house in 2012, she has rented the house to two student teachers and the new music teacher.
When the house was first built, the basement was no more than a root cellar along with a huge boiler built into a rounded wall of Colfax sandstone, Hill said.
Elmer Hill took on the work of putting a proper basement under the house.
“With the help of friends, Elmer dug out a full basement, bucket by bucket, with a conveyer, and then laid a new concrete block basement and floor,” Hill explained.
An addition was built onto the house on the west side in the 1950s, and in the 1970s, a deck was added to the house, she said.
When the June 4, 1958, tornado struck Colfax and leveled about two-thirds of the town, the house at 503 Pine Street suffered only minimal damage.
To give you an idea of how close the 1958 tornado came to the Tapestry Trunk, the west end of the Colfax train depot — just across the street — was demolished. And of course, pretty much everything south of the depot was destroyed as well.
The Tapestry Trunk also escaped damage in June of 2014 when another tornado came through Colfax.
The 2014 tornado took off sections of roof from the two-story train depot on Main Street just a stone’s throw from the Tapestry Trunk — and took down a large tree near the alley behind the Tapestry Trunk.
“The tree fell between the deck and the garage, missing both only by inches,” Hill said.
During the time he owned the house in the late 1990s, Ellis Bloomfield worked diligently to complete interior improvements, including wainscoting around the entire living room and dining room as well as installing several ceiling fans, Hill said.
During the 1980s, large gas tanks under the backyard were removed, and the garages and original pump house of the gas station were torn down. When the Guy Hazeltine family lived in the house, they moved a garage to the property by rolling it on logs down the alley from Commercial Testing, she said.
“That was a site!” Hill exclaimed.
At one time, there was a fire in the northeast corner of the house, she noted.
The house had first been sided with regular clapboard siding painted white. The clapboard was removed and replaced with slate siding in the 1950s, and then the slate was removed in the 1990s, and the house was sided with rough-cut siding from Wood’s Run Forest Products, Hill said.
Kathy Stamper left the house to her sons, who turned the living room and dining room into a weight-lifting gym and broke several main beams in the floor, she said.
After Hill purchased the house in 2012, many energy, electrical and plumbing updates and repairs have been completed under the supervision of Scott Housenga.
What’s in a name?
So how did Hill arrive at the name of the Tapestry Trunk for her bed and breakfast?
“About ten years ago, I had a craft/resale shop next to the laundromat (on River Street), and it was also called the Tapestry Trunk,” Hill said.
“A plaque in the store read, ‘Our lives are so woven together like the colorful threads of a tapestry to create a beautiful … picture.’ I really believe this. So each of the rooms does, or will, have a tapestry wall hanging as part of the décor,” she said.
The furnishings and the decorating in the Tapestry Trunk mimic several stages or styles of a family home over the years, Hill said.
“There are a few of grandma’s antiques, some mid-century furniture, and a few modern pieces,” she said.
Each guestroom also has its own theme: the Peaceful Pink Room (Hill’s office); the Asian Gold Room; the By the Sea Shore Blue Room; the Up North Green Room; and the red, gray, blue Light House Room.
Guests who stay at the Tapestry Trunk will be served a continental breakfast from 8 a.m.to 11:59 a.m.
The breakfast menu includes fresh fruits, a variety of cereals, toast, coffee, tea, juices, plus a special breakfast dish — the inn’s signature “Blueberry Hill Coffee Cake.”
“My target guests are people who grew up in Colfax or who used to live in the area. Their parents and families have moved, passed away, ‘sold the farm,’ or are currently living at Colfax Health and Rehab,” Hill said.
“These are people who will need a place to stay for family or class reunions, weddings, funerals, graduation parties and even for the Colfax fair,” she said.
Considering the B&B’s target guests, the Tapestry Trunk’s motto is very much to the point: “Who says you can’t go home again?”
“This is a family-friendly place, and children are welcome. The Tapestry Trunk is a smoke-free facility, and no pets are allowed,” Hill said.
Rooms that are rented by the night or weekend include breakfast, Hill noted.
The entire house also can be reserved for club meetings, family gatherings, quilting, scrap booking and card-making retreats — or for holiday craft sales in the fall, she said.
The B&B will be open until New Year’s and will be closed January, February and March, re-opening again in April.
Off-street parking is available as well.
The Tapestry Trunk was inspected by the state Health and Safety Department this spring. The B&B met all of the requirements, and after Hill added several more smoke detectors and posted emergency procedures in each guestroom, a Bed and Breakfast license was issued for the Tapestry Trunk.
In the spring of 2014, Hill attended a “So You Want to Be an Inn Keeper!” seminar held in Steven’s Point sponsored by the Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association.
The Colfax Village Board, on the recommendation of the Colfax Plan Commission, approved the B&B last summer.
Hill will be hosting an open house at the Tapestry Trunk on Sunday, June 14, from 1:30 p.m.to 4 p.m.
If you are curious about the one-and-only B&B in Colfax, Hill would love to see you at the open house.
She also has a request.
If anyone has books he or she has finished reading and would like to find a home for them, Hill would be happy to put them into the Tapestry Trunk’s library as reading material for her guests.
For more information about the Tapestry Trunk, call 715-962-3457 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.