Mountain Home, January 2020

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Timeless Beauty At Geneva’s Grand Old Belhurst Castle, Weddings and Legends Are Forever Young By Jan Smith

Tea for Two (or More) in Billtown Chef Hosch Lands a Carriage House All Manner of Manors



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Celebrating Romance all February‌ Aphrodisiac-Infused Cocktail and Dessert Carts In-Suite Candlelit Dinners Couples Ice-Skating Breakfast in Bed Perfect Proposal Ideas and More

Rooms start at only $119

Call (607) 962-5000 or email for reservations

Volume 15 Issue 1


Taking Center Stage By Gayle Morrow

Wellsboro’s Deane Center puts weddings in the spotlight.

Timeless Beauty By Jan Smith


At Geneva’s grand old Belhurst Castle, weddings and legends are forever young.

House of Flowers By Karey Solomon


All Manner of Manors By Karey Solomon


Inns, estates, and mansions get gussied up for the big day.


Tea for Two, Weddings for You

Wyalusing Hotel By Mike Cutillo


Back of the Mountain By Marlo Carl

Approachable dawn.


By Melissa Farenish Something old, something new at Williamsport’s Backhouse Café Coffee & Tea.

Carriage House Catering Cover by Gwen Button; cover photo courtesy Belhurst Castle & Winery, by Robin Fox Photography. This page (top) courtesy Belhurst Castle & Winery, by Lisa Mayberry Photography; (middle) courtesy Ron Wright; (bottom) courtesy Chef Hosch & Ann Catering, Inc.

By Linda Roller Chef Hosch and crew come in off the road in Williamsport.

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w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. D i r e c t o r o f O pe r a t i o n s Gwen Button Managing Editor Gayle Morrow S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Joseph Campbell, Robin Ingerick, Richard Trotta Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard Cover Design Gwen Button Contributing Writers Maggie Barnes, Mike Cutillo, Ann E. Duckett, Melissa Farenish, Elaine Farkas, Carrie Hagen, Lisa Howeler, Don Knaus, Nicole Landers, Janet McCue, Dave Milano, Cornelius O’Donnell, Brendan O’Meara, Peter Petokas, Peter Joffre Nye, Linda Roller, Jan Smith, Karey Solomon, Beth Williams C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Marlo Carl, Bernadette Chiaramonte, Diane Cobourn, Bill Crowell, Bruce Dart, Lisa Howeler, Jan Keck, Nigel P. Kent, Roger Kingsley, Jonathan Mack, Peter Rutt, Deb Stafford, Linda Stager, Mary Sweely, Sue Vogler, Sarah Wagaman, Curt Weinhold, Ardath Wolcott D i s t r i b u t i o n T eam Layne Conrad, Grapevine Distribution, Duane Meixel, Linda Roller, Phil Waber


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ABOUT US: Mountain Home is the award-winning regional magazine of PA and NY with more than 100,000 readers. The magazine has been published monthly, since 2005, by Beagle Media, LLC, 39 Water Street, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, 16901, and online at Copyright © 2020 Beagle Media, LLC. All rights reserved. E-mail story ideas to editorial@mountainhomemag. com, or call (570) 724-3838. TO ADVERTISE: E-mail, or call us at (570) 724-3838.


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Faculty Recital: What good would the moon be? Dr. Alissa Rose, Soprano & Dr. Eun-Joo Kwak, Piano Student Conductors Symposium Concert Sax Studio Recital, Butler 163 Mansfield University Symphony Orchestra Chicago, at Straughn $ Chicago, at Straughn $ Chicago, at Straughn $ Chicago, at Straughn $ Vocal Jazz Festival Concert with Guest Artists - Vintage Vocal Quartet Jazz Band Festival Concert Guest and Faculty Horn Recital: Dr. Brad Tatum, Dr. Eun-Joo Kwak and Dr. Rebecca Dodson-Webster Festival Chorus, Ode for Cecelia’s Day (Handel) $ Festival Chorus, Ode for Cecelia’s Day (Handel) $ Faculty Recital: Dr. Eun-Joo Kwak, Dr. Christine Moulton, Dr. Joseph Murphy and Matthew Slotkin Piano Studio Recital Symphonic Band Concert Concert Choir Concert Student Solo Concert with MU Symphony Orchestra Student Composers Society Concert Chamber Singers Concert, MU Planetarium Concert Wind Ensemble Musical Theater Performance

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Preserved past: stories of embezzlement to hauntings and dementia to questionable deaths have only added to the history and beauty of this charming castle in the Finger Lakes. 6


At Geneva’s Grand Old Belhurst Castle, Weddings and Legends Are Forever Young By Jan Smith


here’s a quote on love attributed to the actress Loretta Young that goes like this: “Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.” A romantic sentiment that works when it comes to who you marry, but where you marry is usually a different story. Finding the right venue can feel like a treasure hunt—but with a twist. When it comes to weddings, what couples are looking for is magic—finding a setting and creating a celebration that matches the event of their dreams. Or movies. Or social media. And what could be more magical, more alluring, more tailor-made for a wedding than a nineteenth century castle, by a lake, with a rich history of scandal and romance? Welcome to Belhurst Castle. Courtesy Belhurst Castle

See Belhurst on page 8



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Belhurst continued from page 7

Gazing at the castle, it looks like it would cost a royal fortune to hold a wedding on-site. But no. “If you want to get married here,” says Carmen Brennen-Bain, Belhurst’s events coordinator, “we’ll work to make that happen.” Tall and slim with large, arresting eyes and a wide smile, Carmen knows, to the core of her being, what it takes to make a wedding happen. It’s evident she’s sincere, and goes the extra mile or three to deliver a wonderful celebration for every couple, even those on a limited budget. In her thirty-two-year career at Belhurst, Carmen has served at, bartended for, planned, and orchestrated over 10,000 weddings. Ten thousand. She is exquisitely tuned to the emotional and financial pressures a couple face when it comes to their wedding. An enthusiastic ambassador, Carmen emphasizes Belhurst’s commitment to flexibility with a customized approach to every celebration. It’s an uncommon perspective in the world of destination weddings where “packages” tend to be the industry norm. Belhurst is situated on the edge of Seneca Lake, a dreamy, deep body of water—thirty-eight miles long from northern tip to southern end-point, and two miles wide—that cuts like a blueedged sword between ripe hills decorated with woods, farms, and vineyards. But despite its rural feel, the resort property is less than two miles from the center of downtown Geneva. It’s a prime location with easy access to three international airports—Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo—making it an easy-to-reach location for out-of-town guests. In 1992, current owners Duane and Deb Reeder acquired the property from Robert and Nancy Golden. The Reeders continued to build on the reputation of Belhurst as a fine dining restaurant and inn. Two upper floors of the castle and one outbuilding had been converted by the Goldens into twelve guest rooms. The Reeders added more rooms by converting a second outbuilding and a ranch house, erected on the property by former owner, Red Dwyer, into guest accommodations. In 2003, a major expansion, 30,000 square feet of space, began. It transformed the property into a modern resort, yet the style of the newer construction and the seamless transition between old and new maintains the nineteenth century castle as the focal point of the property. Included in the expanded facilities is the Vinifera Inn, which offers another twenty luxury guestrooms on-site. Another ballroom, the Meritage, is housed in the addition, and complements the older, elegant ballroom in the castle. A pub-style eatery, Stonecutters, has the ambience of a posh club car from the days of stylish railroad travel. Its casual, sophisticated atmosphere is enhanced by two stand-out features: a magnificent wall of windows, facing the lake, directly behind a gleaming wooden bar and a grand, stone fireplace surrounded by mission-inspired armchairs and settee. Stonecutters complements the more genteel, china-andstemware atmosphere of Edgar’s, a restaurant reminiscent of another era, with dining areas tucked into graceful rooms on the castle’s first floor. In a nod to its past, Edgar’s still carries a prime rib entrée, Red’s Prime Rib, that’s been on the menu for over eighty-five years. Onward to the Belhurst Estate Winery and Gift Shop, opened in 2004. The shop offers award-winning selections from the area’s renowned wineries. Tasting flights that pair wines with chocolates or cheese, and a craft beer flight that pairs selections with snacking

See Belhurst on page 10

Erica Danielle Photography

Alexandra Meseke Photography

Tellier Studios

favorites are a feature of the shop. Wine tours of the many Finger Lakes’ wineries, a popular activity for wedding parties, can also be arranged. Rounding out the on-property services is the Isabella Spa—Salon opened in 2010. Everything needed to relax, soothe, and beautify the body—pre- or post-wedding—can be had at Isabella’s. Carmen and marketing manager Carly Morabito both point to the “one-stop shop” experience in a beautiful setting as a major attraction for wedding parties, and they note the area amenities also add to Belhurst’s popularity. There are five near-by hotels, plus Belhurst’s sister property, White Springs Manor, that offer rooms at different price points to accommodate a variety of budgets. Geneva has a rich array of restaurants and bars, shopping and entertainment. The famed gorge and racing venue at Watkins Glen is an easy fortyminute drive south along Seneca Lake’s western shoreline. With all the pluses, it’s no wonder that, between May and October, Belhurst Castle averages five weddings every weekend, Friday through Sunday. Since September there have been over 1,000 One-stop treasure trove: Belhurst wedding inquiries looking at 2021 dates. Only a fraction of Castle offers the calls turn into reservations but, even with that, available couples and guests openings more than a year out fill fast. everything needed Weddings can and are scheduled outside the “season.” for a memorable day In fact, for couples on a tight budget, moving outside the of magic and beauty. May-to-October weekends makes sense, and here’s why: beginning November 1 and running through April, there’s no minimum expenditure required. The minimums are used by Belhurst rather than charging a venue fee—an amount paid that only covers reserving a venue space for a set number of hours. Instead, during the prime wedding months, Belhurst sets a minimum dollar amount to be spent at the property. How the couple meets the minimum is up to them. They can pick and choose. For example, hosting a rehearsal dinner at the property can go toward fulfilling the minimum expenditure. Minimums also vary. In season, for a Saturday wedding, the minimum is $12,000, but have the wedding on a Friday and it drops to $8,000, or on a Sunday and it goes to $5,000. And again, from November 1 through April, there’s no minimum at all. Carmen works with every couple to ensure they have the wedding they want to fit the budget they have. She isn’t kidding when she says she can make a Belhurst wedding work for every couple. Perhaps the emphasis on personalization stems from Belhurst being a family-owned business. The Reeders are on-site, daily. Or maybe the flexibility comes out of Belhurst’s storied history. • Formerly a Seneca Indian village, the first non-Indian construction on the Belhurst acreage was a glass-making enterprise, first one west of Albany, called the Ontario Glass Manufacturing Company. When that operation halted in 1824, the land was divided among the company stockholders. A William DeLong won the prize, having received the largest, most desirable tract of land. Lickety-split, Mr. DeLong sold his most desirable tract to a Mr. Joseph Fellows, former resident of Warwickshire, England, who called Geneva home beginning in 1820. It’s with Fellows that Belhurst’s story takes off. In 1830, a Mr. Henry Hall arrived in Geneva from London to make his home on the lakefront property owned by Joseph Fellows. Disparate stories are told of the mysterious Mr. Hall. In one version, he rented the “Hermitage,” an up-to-date cottage erected by Fellows, and lived there as a recluse with only a servant. After his gruesome death from blood poisoning in 1836—acquired when he broke his




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Belhurst continued from page 9

leg and refused to get treatment—Hall’s neighbors discovered that his real name was William Henry Bucke, a man in hiding from the authorities for having embezzled serious money from the Covent Garden Theatre. It was also rumored that he’d married his stepmother, a famous actress, or was she an opera singer? In any event, she supposedly met a tragic end, drowned, and as a result haunts the place to this day. The real story of the jinxed William Bucke is recounted by David Sackmyster in his carefully researched book, The Belhurst Story. Bucke had some affiliation, it seems, with the Covent Garden Theatre, though there’s no documentation that cements his credentials as the theatre’s treasurer. He did, however, appropriate ticket money and, together with Isabella Robinson, a beautiful actress, left England for America. Isabella was introduced before sailing to Bucke’s son, William Jr. as his new stepmother. Though it’s a juicy detail for gossip, she was not William Sr.’s stepmotherwife. Whether she and Bucke were married is murky. On the sea voyage, William changed his name to an alias, Henry Hall. He changed his son’s name to William Nathaniel Hall. Henry and Isabella met a fellow traveler on the ship, James Simons, who comes back into their story years later. The three-member Hall household, Isabella, Henry, and William Nathaniel, made their way to Geneva where they met James Fellows. Henry Hall used Fellows as his real estate and investment broker. Henry put all of the investments into Isabella’s name, and also had Fellows draw up a deed of trust in her name for the lakeshore property he purchased from Fellows. It was on this property that Henry erected a residence, the Hermitage, close to where the castle stands today. As the months went by, Henry’s behavior became more bizarre and reclusive. For example, he had the Hermitage windows boarded up, and he saw no one other than his acquaintance from the ship, James Simons. Henry’s isolation deepened and neighborly goodwill faded. In 1834, Henry drew up a will “in which his estate is devised to Joseph Fellows in trust for Isabella Robinson and his son, William Nathaniel Hall share and share alike.” Not long afterwards, creditors from England showed up looking for him. But Henry’s crafty move to create a trust for Isabella and his son meant there was little left the creditors could collect. A settlement was reached. The debt hunters left. Henry Hall stayed, but his reputation went into the outhouse. Geneva was a small town. Word leaked out about the British creditors. “This gave rise to misgivings and a ready acceptance thereafter of mystery…those who had been duped were ready to believe and probably to start anything—even stretch it a little,” David Sackmyster wrote. One of the rumors that circulated was that Hall had constructed a tunnel from the Hermitage to the lake, a precaution for when Scotland Yard paid a visit. It wasn’t true, but it made for more good gossip. Controvery continued to swirl around the Hall household, but not for long. In a fit of ugly rage, to which Henry was prone, he went after his son in the summer of 1835, chasing the boy around the property trying to cane him. The childhood gods intervened. Henry took a tumble and broke his leg. By now, daft and paranoid, he refused to send for a doctor. Blood poisoning took hold and, within days, Henry Hall née William Bucke died. Enter James Simons. After a suitable period, Isabella sent William Nathaniel to fetch him—he lived about ten miles distant. James arrived and together he and Isabella sold the Hermitage back to Fellows for

a tidy sum. Isabella and William Nathaniel left Geneva with James. Isabella and James were married in 1836. Their happiness was short-lived. Ten years later, she died and was buried in a small, family graveyard in Yates County. She was forty-four years old. The next owner of note was Harrison G. Otis in 1852. He’s noteworthy because he named the estate “Bellehurst,” which Otis interpreted to friends and family as “beautiful forest.” That connotation still stands. In 1885, Mrs. Carrie M. Young Harron bought the property from the United States Trust Company, which brings us to another love story. Carrie left her husband, Samuel V. Harron—Secretary of the Royer Wheel Company—in New York City and moved to Geneva with her son and a man she introduced as her “manager,” Louis Dell Collins, somewhere around 1886. Carrie and Dell Collins started improvements to the property right away. By 1888, Carrie had divorced her husband and married Collins. She’d also had the Hermitage torn down in preparation for the mansion she planned to build, the Belhurst Castle that still stands. It took a total of fifty men four years to complete Carrie’s dream house. In the construction, one man died when he fell from the Castle tower and another “went insane while putting on the roof,” though what that looked like is anybody’s guess. The building is an example of the architectural style of H.H. Richardson, who designed Trinity Church in Boston. Geneva architect Thomas Lyon White once stated that Belhurst was in the Richardsonian Romanesque tradition. He described the castle as “made of Medina limestone, and its dormers, and balcony, and turrets, and crenellations give it distinction. The craftsmanship of the interior, the carved oak and mahogany is exquisite. There are marble fireplaces in almost every room.” When Carrie died in 1926 in Savannah, Georgia, Belhurst Castle passed to her grandson, Hal Harron, Jr. He lived there for a short time, but later leased, then sold, his grandmother’s castle to another colorful character, Cornelius J. Dwyer. Dwyer, called “Red” by his wide circle of friends, was an up-by-the-bootstraps kind of businessman. In 1932, he leased the Belhurst property, eventually purchasing it from Harron, Jr. His vision was to turn the place into a tony restaurant/speakeasy and See Belhurst on page 12

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Belhurst continued from page 11

(3) Walter Colley Photography

gambling casino. In 1933, that’s exactly what he did. Dining downstairs, gambling upstairs. During Prohibition, the liquor arrived by boat from Canada through the canal system. After Prohibition, it came through the front door. Red turned Belhurst, which he called the Belhurst Club, into a premier restaurant and casino, though in 1952 the Kefauver Commission convinced Red to stop the gaming. He did, but he continued with the restaurant until he sold the property in 1975. At the height of its glory, Clementine Paddleford, the diva of food critics, wrote a glowing review of Belhurst for the New York Herald Tribune, and James Thurber, celebrated humorist and New Yorker magazine writer, was a regular at the club. Dwyer’s tenure was the stuff of movies. • The tradition of excellence continues. Based on 2019 reviews, Belhurst Castle was a recipient of the 2020 Best of The Knot award, a serious recognition of quality from a nationally acclaimed, ginormous wedding planning website. In the wedding business world, it’s a coup. But this comment from Carmen is more telling, I think, than any award. When I asked her what kept her in the coordinator position, she said, “The first time I meet a couple, they’re overwhelmed—lots of ideas for what they want but no real understanding of what it Modern history: will cost or what it will take like the stories in to make it happen. We work Belhurst’s history, together. And when it’s done, the older rooms in the first thirty seconds of of the castle, the celebration, I get to see like Stonecutters Tavern, continue their dream unfold.” to add beauty and Carmen is on-site for style to the more every wedding, hello to modern touches, goodbyes, making sure the such as Isabella magic goes as planned. Spa and Salon. For more information on Belhurst Castle and pictures, pictures, pictures, check out Or follow Belhurst on Facebook and Instagram.


Jan Smith, a freelance writer from Ithaca, New York, has written for numerous national and regional publications including Smithsonian Air&Space, History Magazine, and Life in the Finger Lakes.

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Taking Center Stage

Wellsboro’s Deane Center Puts Weddings in the Spotlight By Gayle Morrow


at Waterman, the original doeverything-lady for the Deane Center for the Performing Arts (actually, her title was “office manager”—she’s retired now), remembers that “one of the first things we had not long after we opened” was a wedding. It’s a bit of a trend—Executive Director Kevin Connelly estimates the Deane Center has hosted fifty or more nuptials. When Harold and Ivah Deane provided their generous bequest to create a “home for the arts” in Tioga County, they perhaps could not have envisioned what their namesake, the Deane Center for the Performing Arts on Main Street in Wellsboro, would become. Opened in 2012, created from the space that once housed the Davis Furniture Store, the Deane Center is now not only a place for everything from live music and theater to exercise classes and board meetings, it is a wedding venue. Mary DeBockler, the office administrator, explains that there are a lot of space options at the facility, and provides a tour of what’s available. There are several rooms of varying sizes on the


second floor that make charming wedding settings—some with tall windows overlooking the borough’s famed gaslit boulevard, some with exposed brick walls, and all with tables and chairs that can be configured just about any way that suits the occasion. “In most cases people can come in the day before and set up,” Mary says. As for decorating, she adds that “it’s amazing what they can do with the rooms.” Also on the second floor are rooms the bridal parties can use for changing clothes or relaxing (or trying to) before the big moment. A small kitchen area, while not suitable for cooking, is available for limited food preparation—slicing, dicing, arranging snacks on platters, that sort of thing. On the main floor is the Coolidge Theatre, a black box space that can seat up to 225, depending, again, on how the tables and chairs are configured. For decorating purposes, it resembles a blank slate, with lighting and ornamenting possibilities limited only by the imagination. “If you book the theatre, you get

the lobby, too,” Mary says, and that opens up more space for the reception or other pre- and post-ceremony activities. Space for dancing can be made both upstairs and downstairs. The building is handicapped accessible, and speakers and WiFi are available as well. When the weather is nice, a Deane Center wedding can take place under a tent in the lot next to the building. As for food, beverages, and music, the wedding party can opt for any caterer, bartender, DJ, or live band they want. The facility is also available for bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, or other pre-wedding events. Several brides who celebrated their nuptials at the Deane Center have returned to have their baby showers here, which, Mary says, “is neat, because you get know people.” Mary notes that there are flexible payment arrangements that can be made. “We do have weddings booked into 2020,” she adds, so if you’re interested in having your special day at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts, call (570) 724-6220, or visit

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Clean Beginnings When it comes to color, January has a reputation for being on the monochromatic side. There’s white, and there’s white, and then there are some brown and gray. There’s really more to it than that. January’s hues are subtle. Detecting and appreciating the color contrasts between ice and flowing water, between a snow-mottled deer and her surroundings, between clouds and sky and earth, requires a discerning eye. Have you got one?

Ardath Wolcott

Mary Sweely

Bernadette Chiaramonte

Sue Vogler 17

(4) Courtesy Ron Wright

Tea for Two, Weddings for You

Something Old, Something New at Williamsport’s Backhouse Café Coffee & Tea By Melissa Farenish


edding venues should have a touch of class, elegance, and grace. Uniqueness doesn’t hurt, either. The Backhouse Café Coffee & Tea in Williamsport has it all, and can accommodate bridal showers, bachelor or bachelorette parties, and intimate wedding receptions. The café, located at 901 West Fourth Street, is in a late Victorian, Queen Annestyle home built in 1890. Amos Wagner built the home for Henry Johnson, who was a state legislator from Muncy, according to café owner June Wright. Johnson retired from his law practice in Muncy and moved into the home on what became known as Millionaires Row. Williamsport was once

the “Lumber Capital of the World” and had more millionaires per person than any other city in the country. Most them resided on this stretch of West Fourth Street. Henry Johnson, however, passed away five years after moving into the home. Upon his death, he left the home to his wife, six daughters, and female servants, June relates. “At the time that was very rare, to have a home run by women,” she says. The property subsequently changed hands several times; in recent years, a local orthodontist converted it into his office/ practice facility. “He retired in 2008 and he gave the building to the museum [the Thomas Taber Museum] with the idea that it would be a

‘women of the 1800s’ museum,” says Ron Wright, the other half of the husband and wife team that runs the café. The Taber Museum renovated the home to bring it back to its original state. Two fireplaces, one in each parlor area, were restored, as was the woodwork in the small parlor room, which is now referred to as the tearoom. Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers, a company that specializes in vintage wallpaper designs, was used on walls throughout the house. On the other side of the café, the kitchen was restored to its original state. Most of the wood in the home is original. The large windows have wooden shutters, as was the custom during the Victorian era. One of the café’s most See Backhouse on page 20


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Melissa Farenish

Intimate options: Owners Ron and June Wright stand in front of the picturesque fireplace in the front room of the home. Backhouse continued from page 18

distinctive assets is the large wrap-around porch. Many café customers prefer it when the weather is nice, June says, and, with Historic Ways Garden across the street, the views are great. The Wrights purchased the home from the museum in 2016 “for the sole purpose of having our coffee shop here,” says June, who previously owned a bridal shop. The café opened in August of 2018 after the Wrights made a few minor renovations of their own, including the installation of a custom-made coffee bar that matches the wainscoting. Owning a coffee shop had been a dream for the couple for quite some time. Ron was involved in the pastry business when he was in his mid to late twenties, and notes, “I was just starting to learn about and develop my taste for coffee.” His love of coffee grew, and he dreamed of opening his own business. Ron eventually took on a job for a local company that involved travel. As he was out and about, he frequented coffee shops and began to learn about the business. At home, he patronized coffee shops, too. He particularly liked The Coffee and Tea Room, which was at the 200 block of West Fourth Street (the business is no longer open). With its use of furniture and coffee tables arranged as if it were a living room, he felt comfortable there. 20

In 2007, he and June got married, and the two decided that they wanted to have their own coffee shop. “I wanted to have a space that was very relaxing and homey,” he says. They began looking around Williamsport, but none had the particular feel they wanted. “We would’ve had to spend a lot of money to soften up a concrete shell,” Ron says. But, when they found out the Johnson Home was for sale, they knew it was the right place for them. The Wrights named the shop The Backhouse Café, after the nickname they gave the carriage house they rented behind her daughter’s home in Williamsport’s Newberry section. Ron would often brew coffee for June and her daughter, Melanie (they use Kobrick Coffee Co. of Jersey City, New Jersey, as their supplier for the café. They are fourth generation small batch roasters, Ron says). “One day when Melanie called the house, Ron answered and said ‘Backhouse Café’” June recalls. The café’s logo is now based on that carriage house. The café has two parlors that can be rented by the hour. The large parlor can accommodate twenty-four, the smaller tearoom can accommodate up to twelve. The rooms have large wooden doors that can be shut for privacy. The entire café can also be rented and can accommodate forty individuals, but only on Sundays or outside

of the shop’s business hours, June says. The front room has a beautiful fireplace that could be a good backdrop for anyone looking for a diminutive, intimate wedding space. The staircase to the second floor adjoins the room. “I’ve always envisioned this would be a good space for a wedding—the parlor could be used for the reception,” June muses. “The bride could walk down the steps.” Brides can, of course, have the colors and table favors to their liking. June says one of the recent bridal parties had table favors made of birdseed tucked into each napkin. The soon-to-be-marrieds may also pick from several menu options, and the Wrights can also accommodate if there is a special food needed or requested—like the fruit kabobs one bride wanted. The café has a baker who can take cake or cupcake requests, and brides and grooms may also opt to use outside catering. The Backhouse Café Coffee & Tea is accepting reservations for spring events. Find them on Facebook or call (570) 5677567. Melissa Farenish has worked as a lifestyle correspondent at community newspapers, and writes for several regional magazines. She lives in Montoursville.

Horseheads Mill Street Market 117 East Mill Street, Horseheads NY 14845 607-739-2531

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House of Flowers


er love of flowers led Julie Shadeck in that direction, and in 2000 she was able to buy the House of Flowers at 44 East Market Street when her former boss there was ready to retire. “It’s a happy business,” she says, though one so busy it can be impossible for the people who arrange them to stop and smell the blooms. Take the holidays. Preparation for any holiday begins at least six months before, with ordering flowers, greenery, cinnamon sticks, ornaments, the creation of bows—all the things added to seasonal arrangements that make them special. Julie’s employees have dubbed her “the bow queen” because her flying fingers can turn ribbon into a fabric flower faster than most. “It’s just something I’ve mastered,” she says. Flowers also often mark milestones—births, graduations, promotions, engagements, weddings, and that final goodbye. “Personally, I like funeral work,” Julie says. “It’s larger work, usually a large standing spray or a casket spray—it’s beautiful and huge and makes you feel good. I try to do my best every time.” The blooms taking temporary residence at House of Flowers have often traveled some distance, arriving daily from places like Ecuador, Holland, Canada, California, and Florida. They’re carefully unpacked and hydrated. If they were picked as buds, they’ve got to be gently warmed, lighted, and watched until the buds begin to open. As they’re arranged, the florist either needs to follow a Teleflora “recipe” specifying the flowers and their design in a particular container, or a configuration designed to complement the vase chosen. “If it’s a country crock it might have a country look,” Julie notes. “If it’s an elegant vase, you might want to be more sophisticated and delicate.” And there’s a special extra for a Corning florist—she’s often asked to arrange flowers in an original glass vase. Among flowers, Julie’s personal favorites are the spring blooms— daffodils and tulips and hyacinths. “Carnations get a bum rap,” she says. “They’re an old flower and they smell wonderful, they’re long-lasting and very colorful. You could probably put them in beer and they would last.” She says customers request adding things to bouquets—jewelry, lacrosse sticks, a miniature fishing pole. “Candles!” someone calls from the back room. “Yes, lots of candles,” she adds. Or, a customer might come in requesting a bouquet of roses or a box of rose petals, confiding plans for a proposal. “I always wonder whether she said yes,” Julie muses. Get a blooming preview at or call (607) 962-1449. ~ Karey Solomon




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Doug Kerr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

Bridal oasis: Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park provides couples a unique Country Place Era feel for their nuptials.

All Manner of Manors

Inns, Estates, and Mansions Get Gussied Up for the Big Day By Karey Solomon


here are angels in the details. The long-ago craftsmanship woven into the building of nowhistoric mansions and their re-creations— once stately family homes, now inns and museums—carries through in the appreciation, renovation, and care of their current owners. Many of those folks now host weddings, sharing the ambiance of a past gilded age with young couples looking forward to their own golden future. John Joseph Inn in Groton was


originally the property of a Revolutionary War soldier who received a land grant in payment for his military service. After the once-grand building burned and was abandoned, the property was purchased by the Hamilton family, who came to the area in 2006 after opening restaurants in Napa and Sonoma. They rebuilt the Italianate mansion in period style to become an inn, complete with a commercial kitchen built to the specifications of chef, innkeeper, and wedding planner John Joseph Hamilton.

The property had been subdivided over the years, but the Hamiltons slowly bought the land around them as it became available, restoring the original farm’s orchards, barns, and gardens. The property is currently a working farm—with the help of the five Hamilton children. “We are as much a one-stop shop for weddings as you can get,” John says. “We do all our food and beverages in-house, from hors d’oeuvres to wedding cakes.” Much of See Newtown on page 26

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Tori Srnka Courtesy John Joseph Inn

Newtown continued from page 24

Courtesy Esperanza Mansion

Courtesy Idlwilde Inn

what they serve is either grown on the home farm or sourced locally, and he’ll happily customize the experience. He once did a twelve-course vegan tasting menu; he also recreated a groom’s grandmother’s Russian recipe requiring a week’s preparation of sixteen sheep. The Hamiltons can help a couple find musicians or DJs and the right florist and photographer for their Personal preference: the needs, but almost everything else Finger Lakes provides couples can be included in their wedding a plethora of matrimony package. palaces to suit any desire. “We’re not a wedding John Joseph Inn (top) offers factory,” John says. “We focus couples modern country on one client at a time for a elegance with a five-star high-end culinary experience in dining experience. Idlwilde a private setting. A lot of clients Inn (middle) promises intimate ceremonies, with four space will have us host a full wedding options, in the 19th century weekend—rehearsal dinner, bed and breakfast. Esperanza reception, and farewell Sunday Mansion (bottom) provides brunch. It can end up being a weekend of elegance and less stressful, easier, and more beauty for the couple and cost-effective for our clients.” guests at the Greek Revival He’ll typically host about twenty mansion. weddings annually. Around 200 guests can be accommodated in their luxurious, crystal-chandeliered wedding tent; during the winter months, the house will hold up to eighty. Many photographers have told him the Inn is their favorite venue, because its manicured setting allows them to take memorable photographs with a variety of vistas. Find out more at johnjosephinn. com or call (607) 533-0097. • arcus and Elin Dowd purchased the Queen Anne-style Idlwilde Inn overlooking Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake two years ago. Built as a summer home in 1892 by an early investor in the area’s salt mines, it was bought by the Clute family in the early twentieth century, and served for many years as their family home. The Dowd’s very first guests remarked, “This would be a great place to get married!” and became one of their first wedding clients a few months later. Marcus even got one of those online diplomas allowing him to legally officiate at ceremonies. Elin helps couples with wedding planning—or elopement planning. The inn currently specializes in small weddings with up to thirty attendees, the number that can be comfortably accommodated in the inn’s 26


2020 Dates Available! Book in Jan-Feb & receive a free 2020 ceremony


Karey Solomon is a freelance writer and admirer of waterfalls and the natural scenery of the Finger Lakes.

Diana Kapatos Photography


JMS Photography

fifteen guest rooms. “Everybody who’s gotten married here felt there would be no other way to do it,” Marcus says. “It’s not as expensive as a larger, grander wedding. This is a way to have some old-world charm.” Overlooking the village and Seneca Lake, Idlwilde offers four potential wedding spaces, including a gazebo. One recent wedding couple got engaged there and returned for their wedding. Indoors, there are stately spaces for an intimate reception, like the one held last winter when the bride made her grand entrance down the sweeping main staircase and the ceremony was performed in the round turret area of the parlor overlooking the lake. There’s more information at, or call (607) 535-3081. • et on a hill overlooking Keuka Lake, Esperanza, the Greek Revival mansion in Jerusalem, was built in 1838 by wealthy farmer John Rose. It’s changed hands multiple times; most recently, beginning in late 2018, two Rochester couples purchased and restored it. “All of us wanted to be part of a beautiful historical piece of property, to preserve it and bring it back to life. It’s important to the area,” says Mary Alexander, one of the owners. Offering eight suites and rooms in the mansion, and twenty-two more in the adjacent affiliated hotel, Esperanza can host the entire party for a small wedding, as they anticipate doing this coming Valentine’s weekend, or up to 200 in the mansion’s recently-constructed ballroom. Long known as a wedding venue, the new owners are continuing the tradition with a variety of wedding options. A typical wedding might begin with the ceremony on the patio or lawn—they’ve recently planted sixty rose bushes to honor the original owners—followed by cocktails and then a move indoors to the ballroom. With an on-site restaurant, they can offer a variety of meal options, from buffets to sit-down dinners, and even the newly popular after-party snack-fest. Mary says they can also help plan the ceremony, offering the prospective couple a roster of vendors for photography, videography, flowers, specialty bakery items, even officiants. “It’s elegant, beautiful, and unique,” she says. “I have to tell you, the people who reach out to us and have a passion and desire to have their wedding here is incredible.” More information is at, or at (315) 694-9017. • onnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua ( is another popular regional wedding venue hosting a ceremony for up to 250 people every weekend from May to October, and sometimes during the week as well. Wedding packages include indoor and outdoor options. The Peter Herdic Inn (, on Williamsport’s famed Millionaire’s Row, offers wedding-related space—bridal shower, ceremony, reception, bridal honeymoon, and bridal party/family lodging—in an elegant, Victorian setting. Beauty, like possibilities, lies all around, sometimes in unexpected places. Looking for a wedding venue? Ask around— the angels with the details might be closer than you thought.

To request more info: Hammondsport, NY | Keuka Lake


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Celebrate LOVE With Us! Wine Walk, (wine, brew, spirit, chocolate, maple and more!) Music, Renewing Marriage Vows, Horse & Wagon Rides, and Much More! 27

Courtesy Carriage House

Catering dreams: (from left) Chef Hosch, Ann House, and Chef Danie offer more than just a catering service. They provide a hidden gem full of charm and culinary goodness.

Carriage House Catering

Chef Hosch and Crew Come in Off the Road in Williamsport By Linda Roller


he building is a little hidden—a bit back from the street. And it’s just off Fourth Street in Williamsport, where so many Victorian mansions vie for attention. But once you see it, the only word is charming. The tidy, welcoming exterior beckons, and once inside, you are not disappointed. Somehow, the Carriage House seems larger than the outside would suggest, with open floors and lots of natural light. All in all, a perfect place for events of all sizes—showers, weddings, and receptions included. And it’s the headquarters of an unusual catering service, Chef Hosch and Ann Catering.


Chef Richard “Hosch” Hoschar and his wife, Ann House, have owned the building since 2017, but the desire to own it goes back a few years, when their catering service leased a space for a café at the Water Tower Square complex in the east end of Williamsport. The café was a favorite, and not only with people working in that part of town. Among the regulars were some of the women from the Williamsport Women’s Club, and one day at lunch they asked Chef Hosch if he would cater their meetings at their club—or even run the facility for them. Instead of giving them a direct answer, he replied that he would be

interested in buying the building. No one had anticipated that reply, but the seed of a new venture was planted. A couple of years later, the Women’s Club decided that they did not want to continue maintaining their building. So they contacted Ann to ask if her husband was still interested. As this had been a comment made in casual conversation, he had not mentioned it to her. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise for all. They did want the building and the purchase was completed in 2017. The Women’s Club also got what they said they wanted at that lunch conversation, as they meet at their former building on

Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a bookseller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania

(3) Courtesy Carriage House

Thursdays to play cards, where Chef Hosch and Danielle “Chef Danie” Hunter prepare the lunch for them. The building is ideally suited for events, as it had been built as a carriage house for one of the Fourth Street Victorian mansions in 1869. Chef Hosch, Ann, and Chef Danie have worked to make it their own. By removing the carpets and drapes, and exposing and refinishing the original hardwood floors, they transformed a nineteenth century diamond-in-the-rough into a twenty-first century showplace. Light colors and eclectic decorations make the rooms airy and elegant as well as comfortable and modern. It’s not the first time that Chef Hosch has taken a leap of faith. He originally came to the Williamsport area to oversee food service in the Williamsport Hospital, now part of UPMC Susquehanna. After ten years, it was time to move on, and he did, literally. With a mobile kitchen he could be in the catering business full-time; he ordered that kitchen within the next two weeks. He had catered on the side since 1971, but, with this purchase in 2010, he had his kitchen on wheels and could cater events all over northcentral Pennsylvania. The mobile kitchen looks like a food truck, but is much more. After all, with Chef Hosch, a certified executive chef Level 2 from the Culinary Institute of America, and with Chef Danie’s CIA certified specialty of baking and pastry, the truck produces fine dining in a catering format. But, the mobile kitchen is more suited to outdoor events, which means fewer bookings in the colder months. Enter The Carriage House, the perfect pairing with the kitchen on wheels for year-round culinary activity. Though they do all types of business, social, and sports events, and can cater to groups from five to 500, The Carriage House is an ideal place for weddings. There have been ten weddings in the space so far, with bookings Hidden charm: the for future weddings in 2020 and 2021. They have a Carriage House has list of popular menu items, but they do not have set been transformed menus. Both Chef Hosch and Chef Danie love ideas into an event and suggestions from clients for any event—they say showplace that they “want to have fun with people.” Both chefs like presents guests with an elegant, to work with folks who are positive and are okay with comfortable, and unconventional events. They like to do tastings with modern experience. clients, so that the menu selections meet expectations. The Carriage House floor plan makes for an event that moves smoothly and accommodates up to 175 people with ease. The chefs like to offer appetizers and cocktails on the lower floor, then have the guests move to the upstairs dining area for the main meal. That means the cleanup is not in the way of the guests, who then return downstairs for coffee, desserts, and other sweet treats. The entire lower floor can also be a dance floor, and so can certainly be the place to get a party started. The doors open to the patio, providing even more space when the weather is nice. They also have two private rooms, perfect for twenty-five to forty people for rehearsal dinners, showers, and parties of all types, all year long. Find out more at, on Facebook, or call (570) 850-9843.


Courtsey Chris Woodruff

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hile Chris Woodruff was growing up in Bradford County, he appreciated the Wyalusing Hotel both for its unique architectural style and its historical significance to the Endless Mountains region. Little did he know at the time, however, that he would become a very big part of that history. Chris, fifty-one, has owned the venerable hotel for twenty years now. “I always loved to go into the hotel and was always enamored with the place,” says Chris who, after a stint in the military, was in between jobs two decades ago when the opportunity to own the Wyalusing opened up. “I guess I didn’t have any long-term aspirations, but the previous owner was looking to get out, and I was looking to get in.” The rest, as they say, is history—which, by the way, fits in quite nicely with the narrative of the hotel that was built when Grover Cleveland was president in 1894. The original three-story hotel on Main Street, five minutes from the Susquehanna, has eleven rooms that are definitely not the cookie-cutter variety. All are different and some even have their original woodwork and stained glass. “It’s just a unique building,” Chris says. “I still see something new almost every week, something that I haven’t noticed or haven’t noticed in a long time.” Right across the street from the historic property is an annex, built in 2012 in part because of the booming gas business of the time, with twenty-four additional modern rooms. All the rooms have private baths, free WiFi, refrigerators, and cable TV. The hotel is also well known for its 100-seat restaurant, which specializes in traditional American cuisine—prime rib on weekends, lots of burgers and wings, and the recent addition of smoked meats such as ribs and pulled pork. A rustic, country-style bar completes the full-service facility. Chris says people come for myriad other reasons. “If you can think of a reason for someone to stay in our hotel, you would not be wrong, from people interested in history, to overflow from families coming to visit, to weddings, hunters, fishermen, outdoorsmen, motorcycles, a lot of business travelers. You name it.” Find the hotel at 54 Main Street, at, or call (570) 746-1204. ~ Mike Cutillo

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Check out our Facebook page for more pictureschairs are provided. There are two restrooms upstairs near the bar area. Also there are and information changing rooms bridalceremony party. Looking forforathe rustic or parking lot hashall, an entrance and exit reception or both? Facebook page for more picturesLarge and information! • Office: 570-537-3114 • Office 570-537-3114 215-528-7583 • Heather Cell: 570-250-3891

In His Swept ServiceAcres, Professional At Wind with aCatering wonderful specializes weddings, reunions, panoramic view from a timberprivate frameand ce parties, wells and rigs.orchard, porchoffi over lookinggas a pond, small Check outTh our Facebook is page for more pictures sunsets. e scenery breathtaking with and information everlasting memories. We can host large or small events, We have a variety of menu options. Seating for up to 180 guests inside the venue an another 42 guest when you include the porch. Tables and chairs are provided. There are two restrooms upstairs near the bar area. Also there are changing rooms for the bridal party.

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570-326-7393 33


Approachable Dawn By Marlo Carl


live in a place that offers natural beauty on a regular basis, but this morning was spectacularly stunning. Early January mornings typically greet me with bitter cold, colorless (other than browns and grays) landscapes. I was preparing for the morning commute when I noticed a funny hue within my house. I looked up and saw this welcoming, warm beginning to my day...and year. Happy New Year from Short Hill.


Envision your special event on the Clemens Center stage!

© Small Town 360

Weddings • Graduations • Private Parties • Business Meetings

No need for décor, we’ve done the decorating for you in the grand style of a 1920’s vaudeville theatre! Other amenities include: Plush seating for 1600 • Superior acoustics and sightlines Separate 2440 sq. ft. flat floor reception space • 2nd Floor VIP Lounge Broadway theatre-style dressing rooms • Professional production staff and technical capabilities • Plenty of adjacent garage parking Call today for pricing and availability at 607-733-5639 x224. Clemens Center – Downtown Elmira 207 Clemens Center Parkway, Elmira NY Box Office: 607-734-8191/800-724-0159 Visit for a complete listing of events

Let your new ankle move you.

Get back to doing what you love — free of joint pain. Richard Conley, DPM Foot and Ankle Surgeon

Being active is essential to a healthy lifestyle. So bicycle around the neighborhood. Go on a long walk with friends. Dance when the music moves you. When pain limits you from the life you love, we are here with comprehensive care and treatments to improve your mobility. Depend on our team of experts to get you back to living your active life.

Schedule an appointment today. Call 570-724-5297, or visit

Stephanie Florence, DPM Foot and Ankle Surgeon 36


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