Bed and History in Pacific Grove
Thursday, March 13, 2003
In 1884, California state Senator Benjamin Langford finished the construction of a grand Victorian home on Central Avenue in Pacific Grove. At the time, PG was a closed community, built as a Methodist retreat from the sins of American society. Card games, dancing, liquor and billiards were all banned; beachgoers were required to wear prudish swim attire, and a fence with a padlocked gate kept the town apart from flighty Monterey.
Langford soon tired of walking to the community office to get a key to open the gate, and one evening, perhaps slightly encumbered with food and drink, he chopped down the fence with an axe to allow his horse and carriage to pass. The gate was never rebuilt, and the rest of the fenced community was opened up.
Today, Langford''s home has been renamed appropriately as "The Gatehouse Inn," and is operated as a bed-and-breakfast by Susan Kulis and husband Lewis Shaefer. Previous owners of the inn added a large addition to the building that blends inconspicuously into the older structure, and creates almost 4,000 square feet of living space.
"We''ve been slowly remodeling it," says Kulis, as she walks through the formal parlor-complete with a beautifully tiled fireplace-into the guest kitchen. Tea and cookies are laid out in a room with a hammered-tin ceiling. Antiques-such as hutches that Kulis refurbished to provide kitchen cabinetry-are scattered throughout the home.
"I love antiques," Kulis says. "Many of these came from my family or my husband''s family."
Period-appropriate wallpaper, hand painted with designs like birds and dragonflies, fits perfectly into the rooms that have details like crown moldings and dentiles along the ceiling.
Kulis found clawfoot tubs and antique working wood stoves to heat the nine guest rooms and provide more character.
The rooms feature intricately carved wooden beds with tall headboards, close-up views of the Bay, and arched ceilings. Each room has a slightly different theme: the Sun Room reflects the fact that the room was formerly a sun porch and is decorated in lighter tones; the Steinbeck Room faces John Steinbeck''s grandmother''s home, located across the street on Central; the Turkish Room reflects the Victorian interest with things from the East; and the Cannery Row Room is decorated with an Art Deco flavor.
"I like things that are frilly but not cutesy," Kulis says, as she fluffs a pillow on a perfectly dressed bed. "The Victorians went through a lot of different periods-I like architecture a lot and I can''t help but get into all the different periods of design when I''m decorating."
Back downstairs, more cookies are being put into the oven in preparation for afternoon teatime-a well-received perk of a stay at the Gatehouse.
"They have the most incredible breakfasts-real breakfasts," says Realtor Diana Thorsen. "I always try to time my visits here when they''re setting out the food."
The food has become so popular that Kulis offers a cookbook of her recipes to her guests, with items like strawberry bread, green chili hash browns, and white chocolate almond bars.
As the mother of three teenage boys, Kulis needs more time to focus on family and her other popular bed-and-breakfast, the old St. Angela Inn just down the street.
"I''ve loved the bed-and-breakfast industry," Kulis says sincerely. "The people you meet are very interesting and the kind of clientele who comes here is looking for something they can appreciate. They don''t want a Motel 6 kind of experience. We have the most surprising following-we have people come back three or four times a year."
Price: $1,400,000; ($1,600,000 includes furnishings). 225 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. Contact Diana Thorsen of Thorsen Realty at 372-9061.