Good Life

Historic properties provide foundation for Bellefonte inns

Tricia Andriaccio serves Ed and Bea McFadden dessert during Victorian Tea on Feb. 4 at the Reynolds Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
Tricia Andriaccio serves Ed and Bea McFadden dessert during Victorian Tea on Feb. 4 at the Reynolds Mansion Bed and Breakfast.

Late night phone calls are sort of an occupational hazard for innkeepers. Mike Andriaccios knows the deal. A while back, he got a jingle from a couple traveling down Interstate 80 in the middle of a snow storm.

Their request was simple: Could he please spare a room at the Reynolds Mansion Bed and Breakfast and provide two strangers with shelter from the elements?

Andriaccios was happy to report that he did have exactly one bed available in the Nittany Room. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, imagine the inside of the Penn State bookstore only with a headboard and jacuzzi. The man on the other end of the line said that he and his party could not possibly stay there.

They were Ohio State fans.

It may take all kinds to make a world, but try finding replacement molding that blends with the decor of a 133-year-old Victorian mansion.

“It’s difficult because you can’t go to Home Depot,” Andriaccios said.

Some upkeep is inevitable. The mansion was constructed in Bellefonte circa 1885 by Major William Frederick Reynolds, a businessman, landowner and banker with nice taste in stained glass windows. Some of his family heirlooms are still on display in what was once the cigar room. Andriaccios and his wife, Tricia, enlisted the services of an Amish carpenter to add a display case to the top of a pre-existing bookshelf just for the occasion.

I feel like we’re, in a way, stewards of the place for a while. It’s a responsibility.

Mike Andriaccios

When the couple purchased the bed and breakfast from its previous owner seven years ago, they immediately had to find their preferred balance of history to creature comforts. They eased up off of some of the Victorian inspired lace and settled on a vibe best described as luxuriously homey.

Some come for the ambiance, others to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, fish local streams or attend concerts at the Bryce Jordan Center.

“We have people who come here because they have to renew their gun license,” Tricia Andriaccios said.

Bellefonte’s location makes it a convenient respite for people endeavoring long trips to New York City or Washington D.C. The Andriaccioses have hosted guests from as far away as Canada or France and as near as ... well, Bellefonte.

“We get people who come from up the block. They walk up with their little suitcase and say ‘Grandma’s got the kids,’ ” Mike Andriaccios said.

The common thread that unites these disparate peoples of the world is a singular reluctance to get back in the car. Tricia Andriaccios said that they usually encourage folks to take a short walk downtown to Blonde Bistro or The Governors’ Pub.

As for the two of them, they know that life as innkeepers is fleeting. Eventually Reynolds Mansion will pass into new hands.

“I feel like we’re, in a way, stewards of the place for a while. It’s a responsibility,” Mike Andriaccios said.

And sometimes that responsibility goes to the highest bidder.

I got the biggest antique.

Philip Diehl

When the previous owners of the Harmony Forge mansion decided to auction off the property back in 2012, Philip Diehl said that people came from far and wide to get a crack at some of the antiques up for grabs.

“I got the biggest antique,” Diehl said.

He and his partners walked away with the keys to the almost 200-year-old mansion constructed at the behest of Colonel Samuel Miles at some point between 1796 and 1820. The colonel and his sons, John and Joseph, would eventually lay the foundation for what is now known as Milesburg.

The bones of the original house are mostly intact, but Diehl and his partners redid the hardwood floors, modernized the kitchen and rechristened the property as the Harmony Forge Inn.

“It’s remote but it isn’t. It’s out of the way. There’s not a whole lot of distraction,” Diehl said.

Much of their business can be chalked up to Penn State football traffic and weddings. Diehl and company converted a rustic barn out back into an event space with tables and a bar.

Couples who met at University Park have traveled from as far away from Seattle to tie the knot right there in Bellefonte.

“They can design their wedding to be whatever they want,” Diehl said.

It falls to him or one of his partners to make referrals when guests inquire about other places to eat or stay nearby.

“We do refer people to bed and breakfasts in Bellefonte,” Diehl said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready