A Walk Through 100 Years of History at Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast
Recently, M. Shannon Hernandez, travel writer and author, wrote a feature article about the history of our inn. This year we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Steeles Tavern Manor Bed &Breakfast. This piece has been reposted with the writer’s permission.
There’s just something charming about visiting a historic building and being able to chat with the current owners who know the history of the place. On a recent trip to Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I thought of a thousand questions I wanted to ask the innkeepers as I meandered along the path, past the spring-fed pond and babbling creek.
We started first by chatting about the the initial owners of the home, Walter and Irene Searson. The Seasons built the Manor House in 1916. Walter and Irene originally opened their home to accommodate tourists with “good home cooking and modern facilities.” They welcomed guests at the Manor House until the 1940s, when ownership was then turned over to George and Pearl Butler.
The Butler family consisted of nine children–six girls and three boys. As I looked around the property, I imagined the fun these children must have had on the 100 acres of land. I envisioned children darting from behind trees during games of hide-and-seek, and endless summer nights filled with catching fireflies and stargazing. Once the boys left home for military service, the Butlers ran the home as a Tourist Home until the late 1950s.
When George and Pearl Butler passed away in the mid-80s, one of their sons, Frank, purchased the property in 1986. He resided there with his own family, until he sold the place in 1994 to Bill and Eileen Hoernlien. This is when the property was officially named Steeles Tavern Bed and Breakfast.
The name comes from David Steele, who originally settled in the area in 1718. The town he founded, Steeles Tavern, was actually named Midway in its infancy, because it was midway between Baltimore, Maryland and Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as midway between Staunton, Virginia and Lexington, Virginia. The town was an important stagecoach stop for those passing through the area.
The Hoernliens envisioned creating a romantic getaway for couples to enjoy, so they focused first and foremost on privacy. The rooms had ample space between them, and the walls were heavily insulated to help with soundproofing. Other features included private bathrooms within each room and two-person whirlpool tubs in some of the rooms.
Ray and Melissa Alexander are the fifth owners of the property. In December of 2011, the couple left their corporate banking jobs and purchased the property. The Bed & Breakfast, as well as the newest addition of the Alpine Hideaway Cottages, are situated in Virginia Wine Country at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ray and Melissa are fortunate that they get to share the elegance and hospitality which began in the original house nearly 100 years ago.
Upon arrival, guests can expect freshly baked chocolate chip cookies as a welcome gift in their rooms. Guests will also be adorned with the best quality robes, soaps, sheets, and towels, ensuring a luxurious and comfortable stay. Each evening the innkeepers host a Social Hour, complete with local wines, microbrews, and cheeses. This gives the guests an opportunity to meet one another, and Ray and Melissa take this time to make recommendations for local attractions and restaurants, based on individual preferences.
Guests who long for a romantic, secluded, getaway are in store for a real treat! Alpine Hideaway Cottages are tucked away on the property and provide a private paradise. Each cottage is adorned with a cathedral ceiling, pine walls, a full kitchen, a gas fireplace, a private deck and hot tub, and a king-sized bed. It’s quite possible that guests won’t see another person during their entire stay, as Ray and Melissa intentionally placed only three cottages on 50 acres. Instead, guests may be charmed by the sounds of cows mooing in the open pasture, deer jumping in the distance, and wild turkeys strutting through the fields.
When dawn breaks, guests can expect a delicious breakfast sourced from local ingredients. Farm-fresh eggs are from Redbud Farms and bacon and sausage is purchased from Buffalo Creek Farms. All flour products come from Wades Mill and baked goods, made with chestnut flour, arrive from Pettijohn’s Orchard. The meal that starts the day will be both memorable and tasty–and guests will be supporting local businesses with each and every bite.
Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast and Alpine Hideaway Cottages has received one of the highest levels of recognition in the Bed & Breakfast industry. For the past 3 years, this property has been awarded Diamond status through BedandBreakfast.com and is a member of Select Registry. To become a member of the prestigious Select Registry, the property passed an unannounced, rigorous, 200-point quality assurance inspection. Select Registry properties are known to provide travelers with not only exceptional quality and service, but also with an unforgettable experience.
Ray and Melissa Alexander have preserved the vision of the home and property as it was intended by the many owners who came before them. The couple continues to welcome travelers with comfortable accommodations, delicious morning meals, warm hospitality, and an experience to remember for a lifetime.