Just outside historic Downtown Stillwater sits a stately Victorian mansion. Its light green cladding and umber trim give it a certain woodsy charm, and its turret aspires toward the sky like a great pine.
The mansion was originally built in 1879 for a wealthy lumberman named Edward L. Hersey, though he sold it to his business associate Jacob Bean the following year. Bean resided there with his wife Cynthia until he suffered a stroke in 1901. The couple took that as their cue to depart for the more hospitable climate of California, leaving their home to their daughter Ann Bean Lehmicke as a wedding present.
By the late 1950s the Ann Bean Mansion had been divided into an eight-unit apartment building. As time wore on the old Victorian regressed deeper and deeper into decrepitude, ultimately becoming little more than a ramshackle vestige of the Gilded Age.
Jeremy Drews was a remodeling contractor. He used to stop at the same coffee shop every morning before work – at first because he liked coffee, but in time because he grew to like Erin, the barista, even more. The two soon married.
As early as 2004 Jeremy experienced some the construction industry’s problems which ultimately ended with the crash of the housing market. He was also keenly aware that the pieces of his spine are irreplaceable, so he and Erin decided to take on a new adventure together. They agreed that a bed and breakfast would be just the thing. They found the Ann Bean Mansion waiting for them.
“The Ann Bean was one of the last big mansions built in Stillwater,” said Jeremy. “It was created to impress with strong, masculine lines befitting of a lumberman. Its original butternut millwork had largely been left in place. It would be impossible to find lengths of butternut long and clear enough to do anything close to it these days. Another key feature that attracted me to tackling this restoration was the mansion’s lack of additions over the decades, making it easier to recapture what E.L. Hersey must have envisioned some four generations ago.
“The Ann Bean has great bones in spite of its age, but it was still in very rough condition when we found it. All of its plumbing, roofing, siding and electrical had been poorly repaired for decades. We added the first proper insulation the home has ever enjoyed, and we now enjoy a utility bill that is one third of what it once was.
“Fixing everything in so neglected a Victorian took a lot of work. Or, that is to say, it is a lot of work. Because of COVID I recently installed 200 percent more ultraviolet lighting than is recommended for a house this size, which means our air is now cleaner than what you’d breathe in many emergency rooms.
“The Ann Bean is 7,000 square feet in all, with 11 foot ceilings on the main floor, 10 foot ceilings on the second, and 9 foot ceilings on the third. Every room has a king-sized bed, private ensuite bathroom, and gas fireplace. There’s lots of natural sunlight – and privacy with 18 inch walls.”
The Ann Bean Mansion B&B tends to the second B with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. The Drews’ own gardens provide fresh herbs and vegetables in season, the black currants
requisite for fresh scones, and crab apples and rhubarb for tart jams. Emerging from a palatial apartment to enjoy such fine morning fare is certain to make anyone feel like a fortunate lumber baron.
“Small business owners are getting burned out more than ever these days,” said Jeremy. “But as people began emerging from the pandemic in need of a place to escape to … well, that helped us appreciate what we really offer here: a place with a hard-earned reputation for cleanliness, where the food is tasty and you can escape from the craziness of the world. I used to think a stay at the Ann Bean was only a luxury, but now I believe it’s a necessity.”
To book a night in Ann & Albert’s Room, the E.L. Hersey Room, Cynthia’s Room, the Tower Room, or the Solarium Suite, please visit annbeanmansion.com.
By David Scheller