“My Dream Come True”
I will endeavor to give you a brief history of “Florentine Manor” as I see it.
It was built as a private “retirement” residence for the ship builder and land baron Gideon Vernon and his wife Mary in the early 1870's .They had no children and when they passed on in the 1890's the property was left to nieces and nephews who had the property sold at a public auction in 1900 .
The family that bought the property was Captain J. B.(James Brewster) Turner and his wife Minnie and their four children . J. B. died in 1904 and Minnie was left to bring up the children on her own .Minnie remained a widow until her death in 1948.
As a child growing up across the road I always had a special attraction for this house that stood so silently and where little activity was ever seen. I used to have grand ideas of buying this place and fixing it up so I could ask people to come visit. I used to tell the other children in elementary school how someday I was going to have a big house with “bay windows” and “fireplaces”.
After high school graduation I got married and got my “Mrs.” degree . Then there were three little “Tingley’s” and life certainly was busy .After living away from Harvey Corner for about six years I returned as the general merchant to keep store and help out with all the costs associated with raising a family . Cyril had a management position in the day and helped in the store in the evening . It was a very busy time and yet sometimes when I would look across the road and see the “big house” my childhood thoughts would wistfully return.
Over the years it had always been used as a summer home for Mrs. Turner’s daughter and her family . They would arrive the 24 th of May weekend , the lawn would be mowed and the garden would be planted, hoed, and harvested and by October everything would be closed up again before Hallowe’en .
Then in the summer of 1976 word had it that the son, Harold was coming home from Oak Park, Illinois and they were planning to sell the house. I still wanted that house so Cyril ventured over to visit Vern working in the garden to say we might be interested in purchasing the property. In early September we bought the house and that fall and winter we started on a very large project. We worked for the best part of three years getting it ready for the twentieth century . There wasn’t any water, bathrooms , central heating , or proper electrical wiring just to name a few items. It needed a new roof, lots of plaster, window panes, paper, paint and insulation too . On August 22, 1979 we had moving day . It wasn’t all finished but it was ready for the family of five .
I continued in the store until 1982 when I closed out because of the very high interest rate and inflation was running wild . Wow!! Was I lost after being there for fifteen years, seeing and interacting with people everyday and then to be just home. It was an extremely stressful year and then in the fall someone suggested maybe I should give the Bed and Breakfast a try. It was time to get busy on some of the rooms that hadn’t been worked on as yet .Bathrooms had to be planned and so we began anew with renewed enthusiasm .
The choice of a name for our B&B was easy as I had a name in the back of my mind for sometime . It would be in memory of a very special lady in my life, my great aunt, “Florence (Flora Beckwith) McMahon ”. She had known the Vernons when they lived here and she always talked about the wonderful memories she had of them . I remember as a child when Aunt Flora would come home to visit my mother we would always have at least one walk around the grounds here and she would relate to me the story of the Vernon family.
We opened our bed and breakfast in July 1983 with three rooms to start. In 1987 we had our first group of hikers from Vermont Hiking Holidays and we were truly underway.
We have had many wonderful guests over the years and it is a pleasure to share with others the peace and tranquillity that we are fortunate enough to enjoy all year. May your stay with us create special memories for you to take back home and may all your dreams come true .
Mary and Cyril
Last updated Feb 6, 2014